Repair the World has released a new report, Teaching to the Moment: A Study of Immersive Jewish Service-learning Educators. This study, conducted by Dr. Shelley Billig, Vice President of RMC Research Corporation, provides a comprehensive look at the qualities of effective immersive Jewish service-learning (IJSL) educators and the training they need to continue providing deep and engaging IJSL experiences.
Though this study focuses on the IJSL field, given that IJSL is a subset of Jewish experiential education, its findings also have relevance to the broader field of Jewish experiential education. Many of the skills, capacities and knowledge areas that IJSL educators need to be effective are shared with other Jewish experiential educators. The framework that this study offers for testing these competencies serves as a model that can be used in other areas of education.
Key findings include:
- Effective IJSL educators have a personal commitment to service. Their work is more than just a profession: they are committed to and inspired by the work of their organizations.
- Effective IJSL leaders and facilitators need a wide range of talents and skills connected to Jewish values and tradition, group dynamics, service and service-learning, effective leadership and commitment.
- IJSL programs are only effective when IJSL educators demand a kind of learning from participants that they themselves are prepared to undergo.
- Effective IJSL educators are personally concerned with creating a deep connection between Judaism and service work and to fostering community around Jewish values, religious practices and social justice issues.
- IJSL programs need to be designed and planned with intentionality. They succeed only when they are managed by talented, trained educators who manage and shape the experience.
- IJSL educators need to build a strong group of participants, one in which members trust each other and learn from each other, in formal reflection time as well as during informal moments. The group provides a critical part of the experience for participants and a lens through which they participate in the program.