I've been involved in Jewish education for 25 years -- first as a parent and then as a Jewish educator. I've also been involved with secular education for that same period of time.
When my kids entered religious school in 1986, it seemed strange to me that the learning materials and strategies of teaching seemed "stuck" in the 1950's and 1960's: text books appeared dated; graphics were similar to those used in earlier eras; frontal teaching was the primary method of conveying knowledge. "How strange," I remember thinking. "No wonder kids seem bored." But even more critical was the lack of connection between what they were learning and their daily lives.
In 1991, when I began to teach, I got a bird's eye view of exactly how difficult it is to teach in a supplemental school. Fortunately, PrintShop and Davka allowed me to make learning materials -- posters, games, worksheets -- that more closely resembled what my students were using in their secular classes. After the learning materials I created met with such positive reactions from my students, I began to modify teaching strategies to more closely mimic some of the successful strategies I observed in secular settings. The students responded eagerly!
And so, a new interest was born -- how to integrate the best of what the secular world has to offer in "how to teach" with the limitations (space, time, money and other resources) of a supplemental school program.
What didn't exist, I would create. Once created, I'd test it on my students -- they were both my most exacting critics and my co-conspirators in finding a way to answer the question: "But what relevance does this have to me?"
It’s been great fun and I’ve learned a lot.I hope you’ll join me on the learning journey -- together we can "reach and teach."