A mix of old and­newatLSJS con­fer­ence

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY CHAR­LOTTE OLIVER

TECH­NOL­OGY HAS a vi­tal role to play in the class­room; that was the les­son learned last Tues­day at the Lon­don School of Jewish Stud­ies’ fifth an­nual Na­tional Jewish Education Con­fer­ence for Pri­mary School Teach­ers.

More than 170 ed­u­ca­tors from across the UK, and a few from Gi­bral­tar, met in Hen­don to share their ideas on how to keep Kodesh stud­ies ex­cit­ing. The one­day event was held in part­ner­ship with the In­sti­tute of Pro­fes­sional De­vel­op­ment for Jewish Schools.

Un­der the theme “Work­ing Mir­a­cles”, par­tic­i­pants heard from lead­ing names on sub­jects in­clud­ing “Chu­mash in pri­mary school” and “get­ting the most from Tefillah time”.

LSJS dean Rabbi Raphael Zarum chose the day to launch “But why?”, a new on­line re­source de­signed to aid teach­ers in an­swer­ing 33 of the most chal­leng­ing religious ques­tions posed by pupils. Th­ese range from “What is God?” to “Why am I here?”

“You are on your own in the class­room,” Rabbi Zarum ex­plained. “But you can re­ally make a dif­fer­ence. Re­sources like this will help to kick­start deeper con­ver­sa­tion.”

An­other pro­po­nent of us­ing tech­nol­ogy as a teach­ing aid was Sammy Morhaim, head of Kodesh stud­ies at King David Pri­mary in Manch­ester.

In his ses­sion, Mr Morhaim demon­strated how, by film­ing him­self recit­ing He­brew pas­sages and then play­ing the video on his iPad via a pro­jec­tor to his pupils, he could be in two places at once — and could also send the video to pupils’ homes to aid their home­work.

“We’re show­ing teach­ers what they can do in the dig­i­tal age,” said Es­ther Col­man, Jewish stud­ies co-or­di­na­tor of LSJS’ teacher train­ing pro­gramme SCITT. “We have a fan­tas­tic bal­ance here to­day of old and new, and how that can be used to en­sure ex­cel­lent teach­ing. We have cho­sen pre­sen­ters who are do­ing ex­cel­lent work to come in and share their tips with oth­ers.”

Other pre­sen­ters in­cluded Jef­frey Leader, di­rec­tor of Pikuach, the Jewish schools’ in­spec­tion ser­vice, who spoke about ways to be­come an in­spec­tion­ready ed­u­ca­tor, and LSJS chief ex­ec­u­tive Ja­son Marantz, who spoke about “defin­ing your own per­sonal vi­sion for Jewish education”.

Pro­ceed­ings were kicked off by key­note speaker Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, who thanked con­fer­ence-go­ers for their ef­forts. “I re­ceive so much from you right around the year — the deep im­pact you are mak­ing on fu­ture adults of Klal Is­rael,” he said. “It is within our power to work mir­a­cles if we work hard, if we make plans, if we de­vise strat­egy.

“Never feel that what you are do­ing is a waste of time. You are sow­ing seeds and the har­vest will def­i­nitely come.”

Mr Marantz said he hoped the con­fer­ence would help teach­ers who of­ten work in iso­la­tion.

“This is a chal­leng­ing time for edu- cation,” he said. “Re­cruit­ment and fi­nance are low. We’ve got to dig deeper, pro­vide and em­power. If some­one walks away from this with three ideas and four or five email ad­dresses, then that is a pretty good day.”

At­tendee Es­ther Co­hen, from King David Pri­mary School in Birm­ing­ham, said the con­fer­ence was “very im­por­tant for peo­ple like my­self who come from the provinces.

“You tend to feel iso­lated; but you go back at the end of the day feel­ing re­newed. I al­ways pick up new ideas.”

Con­fer­ence at­ten­dees mid-ses­sion

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