Learning about Learning

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

Tag: Induction (page 2 of 3)

What? Another day off?

This guest post is by Bil Zarch, head of school at Lander-Grinspoon Academy in Northampton, Massachusetts. LGA is a partner school in phase two of the Mandel Center’s Induction Partnership.

LGA visions of good teachingSome parents may have grumbled when our students had another day off recently, but it was probably the most important day off that students have taken in a long time. While they were resting and relaxing, our faculty was deeply immersed in the work of creating a document for a “Vision of Good Teaching” at LGA.

This isn’t just a one-day, months-long, or even year-long project. It is a multifaceted, ongoing collaboration that is taking our school on a journey to even higher places, as we focus on the question, “How do we make schools a place for teacher learning?” Continue reading

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

You never know where an idea can go

Ever wonder where an idea goes? It might just travel half way around the world!

Last week we had the pleasure of hosting a small delegation from the Israeli Ministry of Education. Gila Nagar, Deputy Director General responsible for teacher education and professional development, and Shlomit Amichai, director of Teach for Israel and former Director General at the Ministry, joined us at the Mandel Center for a morning of lively conversation about their work and ours.

Sharon Feiman-Nemser, Sarah Birkeland, Shlomit Amichai and Gila Nagar

Sharon Feiman-Nemser, Sarah Birkeland, Shlomit Amichai, Gila Nagar

They came to discuss recent reforms to teacher preparation, induction and professional development in Israel, including much tighter integration among these three previously separate processes. New teachers now receive three years of mentoring and professional development targeted toward their specific needs. Experienced teachers pursue individual growth plans within a shared overall framework of effective instruction. The changes they described were far reaching and impressive.

Where did the impetus to rethink Israel’s approach to teacher development come from?

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.”

What is the Head of School’s responsibility for teacher development?

Guest post by Rabbi Marc Baker, Head of School at Gann Academy in Waltham, MA.

At the recent North American Jewish Day School Conference, I had the privilege of co-presenting one of the sessions with Sharon Feiman-Nemser and Vivian Troen, two colleagues from the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University. Our session addressed new teacher induction, or the various ways that a school supports and develops its new teachers. Gann has invested significant resources over the past several years in this induction process, and one of the things I have learned is that, when done well, induction does much more than support new teachers; it actually can transform teaching and learning in the entire school. Continue reading

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