Learning about Learning

Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education, Brandeis University

Category: Projects (page 4 of 6)

Making Schools Places where Teachers can Learn

Sharon Feiman-NemserThe best way to improve student learning is to invest in teacher development, but few schools are set up for it, according to Mandel Center Director Sharon Feiman-Nemser.

Over 60 Jewish day school heads, teachers, board members and other educational leaders gathered at Brandeis recently to learn how to make schools places that support career-long learning for teachers. The gathering, convened by the Mandel Center, presented the Center’s latest research about what keeps teachers—from novices to the most experienced—learning, growing and improving.

Participants also learned about what drives teachers from the profession. Continue reading

Meaningful Adjacency in the Classroom

By Allison Cook, Research Associate in the Beit Midrash Research Project

Just a few weeks ago our nation commemorated the ten year anniversary of the events of September 11th, 2001. For many of us it was a heart-wrenching return to images and feelings that we keep at bay most days. For many of us it was also the first glimpse of a new image, the World Trade Center Memorial with its inverted tower-shaped waterfalls framed by the River of Names, an accounting of the people who died in the attacks. Many months ago, I heard the principal designer of the Ground Zero Memorial, Michael Arad, speak on NPR about the process and the outcome of many years of thought and struggle to rebuild Ground Zero as a place of life-giving memory.

An important feature of the memorial is the particular placement of the engraved names. After much thought the design team decided to pursue a complicated but significant design principle which he called “meaningful adjacency.” Continue reading

How is the recession hitting Jewish day school classrooms?

What do we know about how the financial crisis, now almost three years old, has affected Jewish day schools? According to Mandel Center Senior Research Associate Eran Tamir, coverage by the mainstream and Jewish media has focused on the views of federation professionals, philanthropists, school leaders and administrators. Their views, which don’t always reflect the experiences of teachers and the impact on classrooms, have nevertheless framed the public discussion.

In his latest paper [PDF], part of the DeLeT Longitudinal Survey project, Tamir investigates how the recession is directly affecting teachers and their teaching at the classroom level, in their work with children. Continue reading

The Case for Combining Mentoring and Assessment for New Teachers

In this video from the Teachers College Record series “The Voice,” Mandel Center director Sharon Feiman-Nemser makes the case against the widely accepted view that the person who mentors and supports a new teacher should not be the person who evaluates him or her.

Click the image to be taken to the video.

Sharon Feiman-Nemser

“Not only is it possible,” she argues, “for mentors to combine the functions of assistance and assessment in their work with new teachers, but it’s impossible to separate these functions and take new teachers seriously as learners.” Drawing on her paper with Brian Yusko, “Embracing Contraries: Combining Assistance and Assessment in New Teacher Induction” [PDF], Professor Feiman-Nemser observes that “the person who works closely with the new teacher… is in a much better position to make a determination about that person’s potential for future success and growth.”

How DeLeT uses standards in teacher preparation

Standards are a key component of any teacher development program, but here at DeLeT, where we prepare teachers for Jewish day schools, they are far more than just a set of benchmarks: They provide us with a road map to assess each developing teacher’s progress along a number of continua. Standards are useful at any stage in a teacher’s career development, but here I demonstrate with a real-world example how we use them in practice with teachers at the pre-service level: DeLeT graduate students who are earning the MAT degree to prepare for careers in Jewish day schools. Continue reading

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