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YU News

Back in the Classroom: University-School Partnership Programs Offer Continuing Education for Teachers

The Institute for University-School Partnership recently hosted an inaugural conference on high school gemara entitled “G21: Gemara for the 21st Century Classroom” in June at YU’s Wilf Campus. YU convened leading gemara educators from 15 schools from four states to develop new curricular models and technologies for their gemara courses in light of the “digital generation,” and to discuss how to make heavily conceptual text meaningful to youngsters belonging to this generation.

Rabbi Yehuda Chanales ’03YC, ’07AZ, ’09RE, who teaches at the Torah Academy of Bergen County, declared, “A lot of the goal in gemara learning is to connect students to tradition. For years, a lot of that tradition came with a particular sense of teaching and learning: the rebbe is the source of authority and conveyor of tradition, and the students soak up knowledge, learn from him and learn collaboratively in chavrusa to prepare for his shiur. We struggle with the tension of valuing that tradition and the authenticity that’s felt when you walk into a beit medrash, but also incorporating technology and project-based learning to help create the clear connections to our students’ lives, which has always been our goal in teaching Torah.”

The gemara teachers, and other Jewish educators, will continue to convene in the Institute’s HSChinuch Community of Practice, a site and online community designed to give middle and high school Judaic studies teachers a forum to share resources, raise questions and discuss ideas to enhance Torah-teaching strategies. Rabbi Chanales oversees this site, in addition to his teaching duties.

The G21 conference was actually inspired by recurring posts on HSChinuch calling for a clarification of goals and assessment tools in gemara classes, as well as advice and support in dealing with common problems such as lack of student motivation or connection to the material.

Meanwhile, registration for the Institute’s Online Certificate Programs is open through July. These popular courses offer advanced education for certified teachers in the following subjects:

  • Student Support: teaching techniques and strategies to support students in academic, behavioral, social/emotional and spiritual wellbeing and growth;
  • Differentiated Instruction: teaching new tools that can be immediately implemented in the classroom to meet the needs of more of the students more of the time;
  • Educational Technology Integration: teaching effective strategies and tools for maximizing technology-enhanced learning in the classroom in the context of a supportive environment; and
  • Online/Blended Instruction & Design: creating one fully online Judaic course to use, and learning the skills needed to flourish as a teacher and course designer in an online or blended learning environment.

Each program, which is taught entirely online, is made up of three courses lasting 10 weeks each, with a one week break in between each course, for approximately 10 months. The programs begin on September 10th and run through June. Participants are expected to complete weekly assignments, and instructors provide feedback to enhance the courses. Students hail from around the world, and online networking with peers in other cities and schools allows for mutual support and a sharing of ideas.

Space is limited, so interested alumni are encouraged to apply at their earliest convenience in July. The cost for the program is $2,500, and limited scholarships are available on a first come, first serve basis. Many schools have covered the cost of these programs for their teachers or chipped in with them, so we encourage you to ask your school administrator if that is a possibility for you.

Rabbi Menachem Linzer ’95YC, ’98AZ, ’98RE, Principal at Hillel Torah North Suburban Day School in Chicago, said, “I’m so glad YUSP is offering these programs - this is just the right thing for teachers to be able to continue to grow and move into leadership roles as they are teaching.”

Dr. Scott Goldberg, Director of the Institute, declared, “Many YU alumni, both undergrad and Azrieli, have benefited from the programs, enhancing their ability to meet the needs of more of their students more of the time. This unique and powerful experience has helped strengthen classroom teaching, and also supported teachers in becoming leaders in their schools and in the field.”

Upon completion of the program, each participant will receive 7 CEU’s for their work, an official transcript and a certificate of completion. For more information or to apply to the program, contact Eitan Novick, Project Coordinator, at enovick@yu.edu.

Finally, the Azrieli Graduate School proudly announces two new programs: a Master of Science and New York State Teacher Certification programs in adolescence education 7-12 and childhood education 1-6. Current YC and Stern students can start both programs in their senior year as BA/MS students, while current Azrieli students and alumni can pursue the 7-12 certification track through an abbreviated second MS degree. For more information, contact azrieli@yu.edu.