HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal

Educational Innovation

Educational Innovation

The articles in this issue represent the balance between the old and the new, sacred and profane embodied in Jewish history. The issue tells the story of the drive for innovation in modern education that has gained strength in recent decades. It features efforts to learn from, adopt and adapt innovative programs and pedagogies from the larger educational universe, even as authors advise caution, patience and planning around such changes.

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From the Editor: Educational Innovation

by Elliott Rabin, Editor Nov 20, 2019 Prizmah

The old will be renewed, and the new will be sanctified. - Avraham Kook, Igrot HaRa’ayah 164

From the CEO: "What If?" The Jewish Tradition of Educational Innovation

by Paul Bernstein Nov 20, 2019 Prizmah

Havruta,“two scholars sharpening one another” (Babylonian Talmud, Ta’anit 7a), is arguably the richest way to study Jewish texts. Yet until recently, it was a minority pedagogical style; it took change within the yeshiva education system to become the norm. According to Israeli historian Shaul Stampfer, havruta-style learning (pairs of study partners learning text together), although practiced since ancient times, became the predominant form of Jewish study only after World War I, when yeshivot opened their doors more widely.

The Advice Booth: Faculty Meetings to Look Forward to

by Rachel Levitt Klein Dratch Nov 20, 2019 Prizmah

Dear Prizmah Coach,

I can deny it no longer: My staff hates faculty meetings.
What can I do?


Well-Meaning Principal

Dear Well-Meaning Principal,

I hear you. We have all inherited systems that no longer serve us, but they remain ingrained in the school schedule, so we use them because:

Commentary: Innovating in Depth

by Casey Suter, Bracha Rutner, Rabbi Jonathan Berger Nov 20, 2019

Something I have been focusing on quite a bit as of late is the idea of innovation in education being more focused on depth rather than being something new. For example, a lot of organizations (including education) are always touting being on the “cutting edge” as they are embracing the “latest and greatest” technologies or perhaps strategies. The problem with this focus is that if you are too focused on doing the “new” thing, you probably never had a chance to get good at the last item or initiative. It is a cycle that continues over and over again in too many spaces.

Research Corner: Assessing Our Workplaces

by Ilisa Cappell Nov 20, 2019 Prizmah

One of the most frequently asked questions we hear from heads of school is, How can I find and retain top talent in my school? In order to support our schools in ensuring they are great places to work and to create conditions to attract top talent to the field, Prizmah partnered with Leading Edge, the Alliance for Excellence in Jewish Leadership, to offer their Employee Experience Survey to day schools. This initiative was offered at no cost to schools through the support of generous federations and foundations.

On My Nightstand: Brief reviews of books that Prizmah staff are reading

by Ilisa Cappell, Odelia Epstein, Daniel Infeld, Sara Loffman Nov 20, 2019 Prizmah

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business

By Patrick Lencioni

If you could do one thing this year that would dramatically improve your school, what would it be? Lencioni asserts that focusing on organizational health is the key. Lencioni, well known for his clear and simple style of writing, untangles the complexities of leadership and offers concrete ideas and practical steps to shift the way we work as he tackles our fundamental assumptions about what matters most.

A Learning Ethos That Fosters Deep Thinking

by Jeremy Stowe-Lindner Nov 20, 2019 Bialik College, Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne, Australia, is a long way from anywhere. Our nearest Western neighbor, New Zealand aside, is a 14-hour flight away. Consequently, a determined internationalist outlook, an investment in development, and a focus on excellence through teaching and learning are musts in order to provide a gold standard of education that persuades our community to buy into the Jewish schooling model.

How a University and Jewish Day School Can Collaborate on Curricular Innovation

by Mitchel Malkus, Tiffany-Rose Sikorski Nov 20, 2019

Can a Jewish day school partner with a world-class research university to accelerate student learning and drive innovation? What does it look like when university faculty teach elementary school faculty on a day school campus? How might a Jewish day school develop a unique and cutting-edge approach to teaching Judaic studies?

Designing the Space to Cultivate Creative Capacity

by Michael Cohen, The Tech Rabbi Nov 20, 2019

Before surveying educators about whether or not they view themselves as creative, I challenge them to define the word “creativity.” Most define the term as meaning being artistic, musical or gifted in some other act of making something. While these are without question forms of creative expression, they do not define or even represent the essence of what creativity is and by extension could be. This narrow scope associated with creativity pushes many young people away from trying to figure out what creativity is for them and how they can impact the world around them.

Kvod Habriyot: How Multiculturalism can Transform Jewish Day Schools

by Roberta Louis Goodman, Ed Frim Nov 20, 2019

A quest for new models that address the evolving needs and priorities among Jews, especially millennials, is a challenge for established institutions like day schools. The Lippman School, a K-8 Jewish day school in Akron, Ohio, offers a compelling approach that addresses education and recruitment. Called Kvod Habriyot, respect for all people as God’s creation, the model has enabled the school to admit students from a variety of religious, ethnic, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.