While the students at Yeshivat Noam recently enjoyed a day off from school on Election Day, the teachers were fully engaged in a day-long professional development program intended to further enhance their educational skills and enable them to explore cutting-edge teaching methodologies.
The Yeshivat Noam faculty from the Early Childhood division, Elementary School, and Middle School participated in a number of scintillating workshops throughout the day, including programs focusing on the John Collins Writing Program, literacy, bullying, curriculum development, and working with the “out-of-the-box child.”
As part of the professional development, the 4th and 5th grade teachers spent time learning more about a new online reading program, Achieve 3000, which is used inside the classroom as well as at home to build individualized reading skills in the area of non-fiction reading comprehension.
“The professional development program allowed for teachers to gain a better understanding and broaden their knowledge of the Achieve 3000 program in order to help make it most effective,” said Mrs. Jen Dolny, a 4th grade teacher. “Teachers were given the opportunity to speak with an expert from the program itself, in order to learn how to utilize the program most productively in the classroom. After this training, I feel confident that Achieve 3000 will benefit every child in my classroom.”
Mrs. Arwen Kuttner, a support teacher in the Elementary School, attended the session on how best to work with the “out-of-the-box” child with behaviorist Michelle Goodman. “It was a treat to get an overview of tips that can be useful for a variety of these ‘out-of-the-box’ children,” she said. “Knowing how to frame your directions or how to offer appropriate reinforcement for a child who does not independently do so can make it so much easier to teach content to the whole class, including that child.”
Dr. Stephen Glicksman, a noted developmental psychologist whose children attended Yeshivat Noam, presented a workshop to the entire faculty about preventing bullying.
“One of the most important points Dr. Glicksman emphasized was that bullying can usually be stopped very quickly if bystanders intervene and if a school does not have any room for a bullying culture,” Mrs. Kuttner said. “We learned about the important components of creating a caring culture, which include setting very clear expectations of rights, responsibilities and rules, and teaching children that they should speak up if they see something inappropriate.”
Rabbi Elie Kurtz, a Judaic Studies teacher in the Middle School, participated in a focused roundtable discussion led by Rabbi Yitzchok Motechin, Assistant Principal for Judaic Studies in the Middle School, where the faculty concentrated on enhancing certain important educational skills and discussed several crucial strategies on how to best incorporate the presence of God in their respective subjects. In addition, the faculty focused on Tefillah and discussed additional strategies for making the davening in school as meaningful as possible for the students.
“In Yeshivat Noam, there is a clear emphasis on the parent/school partnership,” said Rabbi Kurtz. “With that in mind, we discussed both informal, as well as formal ways of sharing our values with the parent body. Our goal, with the integral assistance of parents and family, is to create and foster the most consistent and enduring Jewish and Torah observance possible for our children.”
“It is always advantageous to be able to take time out and reflect on our practices,” added Rabbi Kurtz. “Professional development is most effective when we can focus on improving and working to ensure that our students gain from our enhanced development.”
By N. Aaron Troodler