(Courtesy of JFNNJ) Last March, with the onset of the pandemic, schools sent their students home and went virtual, which meant that kids and teachers were suddenly attending Zoom school. Within a few months, just as everyone seemed to be adjusting to virtual learning, a new model emerged called concurrent teaching, which is a blend of in-person teaching and remote teaching. At any given time, in one class, several children may be learning from home while other students continue in person.
Teachers had little time to create and manage concurrent classroom environments. They were basically thrown into the situation and had nothing more than on-the-job training. Imagine what a little training could do to help the teachers enhance the learning experience.
Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey was able to bring Prizmah (with the Jewish Education Innovation Challenge and the Mayberg Foundation) and BetterLesson to our community to provide cutting-edge training in concurrent learning to teacher leaders in area schools. Workshops provided training in making instruction more inclusive and engaging and in increasing student motivation. According to Rabbi Zev Kahane from the Moriah School, “It was very reassuring logging on to the Zoom meeting and seeing firsthand that educators from all around—whether for elementary school, middle school, high school, general studies or Judaic studies—were going through the exact same things I was. We all realized that we were not alone.”
Teacher leaders from seven area schools participated and will receive individual coaching, empowering these teacher to train other teachers in their schools as a multiplier effect.
Where does Federation get the money for something like this? Years ago, Arthur and Joyce Joseph established a special designated endowment fund with Federation to support professional development of Jewish educators. While the Josephs could not have imagined a world where teachers and students would learn over Zoom, their forethought in establishing this endowment enabled Federation to offer all our schools the opportunity for key teachers to receive cutting-edge training in concurrent learning.