We all know what doesn’t work anymore in Jewish education.created at: 2012-08-23

The unlinked classroom is a thing of the past. The learn-and-leave Hebrew school is becoming a dinosaur. Teachers teaching and students listening is a no-go.

It’s no longer possible to put off answering the most important question that’s out there: What is the supplementary Jewish school of the future supposed to look like?

Everyone on the front lines of Jewish education has been trying to answer that question. Here at Prozdor, we are proud to be ahead of curve in the redesign and experimentation of cutting-edge Jewish education in the 21st century. As we make our final preparations for the coming year, here are the six hallmarks of what we see as the critical pieces of that answer.

Collaborative practice

Teachers swooping in for teaching hours and heading home right afterwards don’t build commitment or community. This year we will hold five professional development workshops for our Prozdor faculty, in addition to rolling out a new model for our Makor (grade 6 and 7) faculty that pays them for an additional hour per week of collaborative curriculum planning and peer reflection.

Jewish travel

This year we are traveling on four continents, with trips to the Ukraine, Argentina, Israel, New York City, and Washington, DC. There is nothing more powerful than peer travel experiences for Jewish teens, and we continue to expand our slate of travel offerings.

Excellence in Hebrew language instruction

We are entering the second year of our new Hebrew curriculum, developed in partnership with Hebrew at the Center. This year we will feature nine full levels of curriculum, from novice to advanced, in addition to a program of Hebrew faculty development that will give our Hebrew teachers twenty-five additional hours of training and support.

Students as key actors

Our most committed students are the ones who come to Prozdor and do something, produce something, and share something with the world. Whether they are our Klezmer musicians, our Nilhav dancers, our Hebrew students, our A Capella singers, or our Israel advocates, if our students leave Prozdor each day having done something amazing, we’ve got them. At the end of the day, we care just as much about what our students are doing and creating each week as we do about our curricular goals.

Real leadership

Prozdor develops leaders not by giving them lectures, readings, or isolated tools about leadership. We give teens agency by allowing them to identify what the needs of the community are, and then train them to address those needs by challenging them to own the process. We don’t give them fish, we don’t teach them to fish, but rather we ask them what they want to eat and then help make the meal themselves.

Reciprocal relationship with Israel

Over the past three years we have overhauled our entire high school core curriculum to focus on the connection and relationship between America and Israel. This year we are proud to introduce the final piece of our Pirke Dorot partnership with the Reali School in Haifa, a new 11th grade curriculum focused on how Jews around the world deal with real-life issues of social justice. Pirke Dorot, with its three-year curriculum focus, world travel component, and virtual sharing of content and learning, is leading the way in redefining Israel-Diaspora education.

It’s an exciting time to be at Prozdor and Makor. We look forward to continuing to set a course for excellence and innovation as we enter the school year, and anticipate sharing with you our experience as we forge forward into new territory.

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