Rachel is Prizmah's Director of Educational Innovation

Peer-to-Peer Learning: Models that Work

There are so many innovative ideas being explored in Jewish day schools and yeshivas. At Prizmah, we see it daily as we walk the halls and sit with school leaders across North America. How can more school leaders and teaching teams benefit from the expertise that’s all around the field? 
One of the goals of our educational innovation team at Prizmah is to create the space for promising ideas that can enhance student learning to shine. This summer, we launched a new initiative, Prizmah Learning Hubs, to grow and support you and your teaching teams by highlighting the expertise and practice of some of our great Prizmah Network school leaders. This past Sunday, school culture was explored by leaders from ten Jewish day schools. Like Yitro who could reflect on the Jewish people's journeys from the outside, we courageously examined what our daily habits have built and what our school cultures say about who we are and what we value. 
Debbie Finkelstein, Dean of Instruction at Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School, led a workshop that taught how to set values and culture as an administrator, and how to lead by accepting responsibility. One participant reflected on her empowering message of “the nitty gritty of changing a culture one conversation at a time, even if you don't have a title." Another teacher shared that she appreciated learning more about creating and maintaining "a staff of invested teachers who teach from the heart and are inspired."
Jenny Horowitz, Director of Physical Education Department at SAR, led an interactive workshop on practical tips for implementing positive school culture in classrooms and beyond. One educator noted how "physical education can be so applicable to other classroom teachers-- the level of discomfort students have with physical education can be similar to what they have with Hebrew/Tanakh."
Raizi Chechik, Head of School at Manhattan Day School, facilitated a round table discussion on the role and culture of the head of school. Educators were inspired by the nuances and suggestions, and reflected on the power of speaking from the heart with authenticity. One example of how participants learned to frame their work is this paradigm shift noted by a participant: "The ask (for fundraising) is about soliciting partners in an incredible adventure." Participants learned how to use data in communication with stake holders and reflected on ways of maintaining balance and self-care as professionals.
Prizmah's associate director of educational innovation, Rachel Dratch, led an interactive workshop on how to run amazing faculty meetings--where school culture is made. One educator reflected, "I experienced and felt what our students and teachers would be experiencing--thank you! It was relevant, organized and engaging!"
This dynamic and inspiring group of school leaders plans to stay in touch as they form a Prizmah Collaborative and support each other, engaging in deeper thought, research, and the development and implementation of programs to enhance the culture in their schools. Stay tuned to hear more from this amazing group!