After coming down from the spiritual high of Shabbat, a part of me was set up to be disappointed with the programming planned for today. My thinking couldn’t have been any more wrong! Jeff Lasday spent an hour with us discussing the benefits of being Jewish educators (among them the high regard held by students and parents, the feeling of being able to assist in changing the world – one student at a time, and ultimately, knowing that students are the future of our world and we are able to do our part in being able to help shape that future) – and I had a precious moment to reflect on some of my favorite (and not so favorite) teachers and educators that I’ve had over my years as a student.
We followed through on that notion this afternoon when we had the opportunity to do our first real bit of professional networking. A group of veteran educators met us in our lounge and we spent some time discussing our own areas of interest and how mentorship could further our professional goals.
As a young Jewish educator, mentorship is a new and exciting concept. I have not had the opportunity to network with many seasoned professionals working in an area similar to that which I am working in (informal education and congregational program planning). Being able to sit down and discuss strategies, best practises and tools of the trade with a educational veteran was a privilege. The more I think about my own experiences in the Jewish day school system, the more I realise that part of my success came from my connection with my teachers – educators who were stakeholders in their students’ successes (and failures). Similarly, understanding the needs of learners in an informal education environment means that an educator is better able to connect with the learner while establishing rapport and ultimately, better understanding the true needs of that particular cohort of students.
In other news… We have now been at Wash U for 3 1/2 days – it seems like much longer, though! I only wish that there was more time to continue building lasting relationships with other SCP participants (current peers) and other Jewish professionals (future colleagues). Tomorrow we move into the “real deal” – CAJE proper begins, and the fun starts with sessions, EXPO and learning of all kinds. In the meantime though, we SCP’ers are enjoying each other’s company, our yellow shirts, and all of the excitement that comes with being on a college campus with 1300 equally interested and excited Jewish Educators…