The Jewish Chronicle - - EDUCATION -

MIRI Ick­ow­icz, 26, grad­u­ated this sum­mer from the Lon­don School of Jewish Stud­ies’ Schools Di­rect scheme, which en­abled her to qual­ify on the job as a Jewish stud­ies teacher at JFS.

“I love peo­ple and in­ter­act­ing with peo­ple,” she said. But she did not en­ter the pro­fes­sion straight away. Af­ter a de­gree in health and so­cial care from the Open Uni­ver­sity, she went on to a two-year course of­fered by the As­so­ci­a­tion of Ac­count­ing Tech­ni­cians.

“I thought to have a prac­ti­cal job, where I could work from home be­cause I had a lit­tle one. I love maths so I thought I’d train to be a book­keeper or ac­coun­tant.”

But alone with the ledgers did not prove ful­fill­ing. “I did it for a bit but it did my head in, be­cause I had no in­ter­ac­tion with hu­man be­ings.”

Her ex­pe­ri­ence of tak­ing cheder classes at South Hamp­stead Sy­n­a­gogue con­vinced her that teach­ing was her forte. She found a Jewish-stud­ies job in a Jewish pri­mary for a year and then, af­ter ma­ter­nity leave for her sec­ond child, she saw an ad­vert for JFS — “I thought: ‘that’s so me.’”

Al­though she comes from a more Ortho­dox back­ground as a prod­uct of Meno­rah High School, she wanted to teach a broader mix of stu­dents. Join­ing in Fe­bru­ary 2016, she

“loved it straight away.

It was a chal­lenge and cer­tain year groups were more chal­leng­ing, mainly year nine — they were at that awk­ward age, they are not GCSE but they are not ex-pri­mary school kids, ei­ther.” When she joined the LSJS train­ing course last au­tumn, she in­creased her days from three to four.

“It is al­ways bet­ter to be qual­i­fied at some­thing if you are do­ing it,” she said. “I thought I had room to grow.”

The part-time course in­cluded talks from ex­perts on var­i­ous top­ics from be­hav­iour man­age­ment to adapt­ing to chil­dren’s strengths, vis­its to other schools and ex­er­cises within school, such as “fol­low­ing a stu­dent around one day to see what their day would be like”.

Qual­i­fy­ing has given her “more con­fi­dence”, she said. “Last year, be­fore I was qual­i­fied, I had those days when I was not sure. Now I know I am do­ing it right. There is still more to learn but I do know I am on the right track.”

It has helped her to push pupils more and get them to think more deeply. The sixth-for­m­ers she teach­ers are “amaz­ing”, she said, and par­ents are gen­er­ally “sup­port­ive”. Some­times, she will invite pupils home for a Shab­bat meal. “There is so much po­ten­tial, es­pe­cially once they reach year 10 and 11.

“Peo­ple said to me that, now I was qual­i­fied, I could teach English or his­tory and asked if I would be in­ter­ested. I said it’s not just about the teach­ing, it’s about the fact that I love what I teach. I am pas­sion­ate about Ju­daism.”

As­pir­ing to rise higher in the pro­fes­sion, she cer­tainly doesn’t re­gret her change of ca­reer. “I en­joy it, I am ex­cited. You don’t get the same sat­is­fac­tion with num­bers, do you?”

I love what I teach, I am pas­sion­ate about Ju­daism’

Miri Ick­ow­icz

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