More than 500 professional educators and lay leaders from across North America attended iJed 2014, a conference focusing on innovation in Jewish education co-hosted by Yeshiva University’s Institute for University-School Partnership at the Long Island Marriott in Uniondale, NY, March 2-4.
The conference—which was structured to create a more interactive learning experience—kicked off with Teacher Day, a full day designed to address the unique needs and challenges teachers face. Another highlight was the Cardboard Challenge, an interactive project that encouraged participants to work together in playful and creative ways to get them thinking about how to inspire creativity in students. “Flipped learning,” a cutting-edge educational technique in which students review lectures and materials at home and use class time for peer discussion and problem-solving with teachers, was also modeled. There were intensive sessions called “Learning Labs,” which addressed a wide range of issues facing Jewish day schools across the board; impromptu forums at the iPlayground, a feature that debuted at this year’s conference; and the iJED Café, which provided a relaxed setting to network with colleagues and learn more about online and blended learning in Jewish education
“When I first entered the hotel and looked around at the hundreds of faces, all educators like myself, it was both humbling and overwhelming,” said Jaclyn Sova ’08S, ’10AZ, a YU Teach fellow and a teacher at the Stella K Abraham High School for Girls in Hewlett, NY. “I attended sessions that engaged my mind and excited my heart, and it was at thrill to have the passion of education reignited after a long year of teaching. I am grateful for this amazing event and I’m eager to bring new ideas that I learned from iJed back to my school.”
iJED2014 is a direct result of the work that the YU School Partnership does on a daily basis with the schools in their network to foster connectivity and collaboration between schools, school leaders and teachers. The YU School Partnership remains committed to organizing programs on a small and large scale throughout the year as part of its strategic support and development of Jewish day schools and their leaders.
Conference participants had the opportunity to hear from leaders in both the education and Jewish communal worlds, such as Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought at YU, and Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, a world-renowned author and lecturer and an expert on positive psychology.
The conference’s unique structure embodied its goal: to bring Jewish day schools of all backgrounds together to model and engage in an ongoing dialogue about best practices in 21st century teaching and learning. “Often people come to conferences and sit in sessions with facilitators, and then the session ends and they’re left wanting more information or answers to questions they only think of once they’ve had a chance to digest what they learned,” said Jane Taubenfeld Cohen, director of capacity building at the YU School Partnership. “iJED 2014 was designed to encourage deep learning by offering participants the chance to meet and connect with session facilitators before, during and after the conference through the iJED online communities. Participants had a chance to process what they learned and constantly build on that knowledge throughout the event.”
“Teachers and school leaders are able to inspire themselves around the best practices and cutting edge ideas in education today,” said Rabbi Adam Englander ’99YC, ’02RE, ’03AZ, upper school principal at Hillel Day School of Boca Raton. “It is so exciting to gather with the best minds and hearts in the field of Jewish education.”
iJED2014 was made possible through the generous support of the Avi Chai, Kohelet and Covenant Foundations, The Jewish Education Innovation Challenge, Ira and Sheri Balsam and other sponsors.