Nearly 200 synagogue-based school educators from 26 congregations came together Sunday, Aug. 25, to "KickStart" the school year.
The conference, KickStart School 5774: Igniting Jewish Teaching and Learning, was organized by the Board of Jewish Education of Metropolitan Chicago in collaboration with the Community Foundation for Jewish Education, and was made possible through a generous grant from the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.
Dr. Zachary Lasker, Director of Education Projects for the Melton Research Center and the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of the Jewish Theological Seminary, opened the day with an interactive presentation titled Embracing the Learner: Inspiring Students to Find Their Jewish Core.
Educators then participated in one of 11 breakout sessions. Collaborating with other Jewish educators was an integral part of these sessions, as teachers learned about communication skills, building classroom community, meeting students' diverse academic needs, and increasing awareness of interfaith, gender identity, and bullying issues. Other sessions explored connecting with students and parents through social media and ways to motivate students in the classroom through sports psychology strategies.
The morning concluded with action planning sessions for each school. This critical time allowed teachers and school leadership to translate new techniques and approaches into practice as they return to their classrooms this fall. Each participating school used an interactive centerpiece at the conference and brought them back to showcase and use in their schools.