A mix of old andnewatLSJS conference
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