The impact of the senior educators’ program on the professional and personal lives of teachers

2017-02-16T23:45:25Z (GMT) by Kaufman, Michelle
The Senior Educators Program affords Jewish studies educators from Jewish day schools and communal organizations the rare opportunity to participate in a year-long professional development program in Israel. The program takes place at the Melton Centre for Jewish Education in the Diaspora at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The program is designed in such a way as as to allow participants to develop their own individualized program of study based on core and elective subjects taken from both within Hebrew University and outside institutions. This study followed a group of senior educators (n=14) during their year-long participation in the program. At three key junctures during the program each participant was interviewed with regard to their studies and overall experiences of the program. The interviews were open-ended and in-depth and afforded each participant the opportunity to explore and reflect on the various aspects of the program. Data analysis illustrated a range of teacher professional and personal development including that: the process of formulating one’s own individual learning program was empowering for each participant; learning Hebrew and succeeding in overcoming a language barrier yielded a tremendous sense of pride and achievement; living in Israel afforded each senior educator the opportunity to contemplate the existential questions facing Jewish people and consider the nature of Jewish education in their home communities; and, offering midcareer teachers an opportunity to break from the daily grind of work led to personal growth and professional renewal. The interviews revealed that one of the most beneficial aspects of the Senior Educators’ Program was that it afforded each participant the time and place to fully immerse themselves in reflective process from which they learnt more about themselves, their work and their approach to teaching and learning. Israel was the backdrop for a transformational process that each of the senior educators experienced in their own individual and profound way.