New Working Paper Provides Fresh Data About Experiences of Educators in Jewish Settings

A new Working Paper released today by George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development (GSEHD) and CASJE (Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education) is the first report of a multi-year, comprehensive research project addressing the recruitment, retention, and development of educators working in Jewish settings in North America. “On the Journey” shares preliminary insights on individuals who work as Jewish educators today and by comparison with educators who either transitioned to administrative roles or left the field. Stakeholders focused on quality and impact of Jewish education across the country believe that attracting and nurturing talent is one of the greatest challenges today.

The multi-year research project, being conducted by Rosov Consulting, is funded with generous grants from the William Davidson Foundation and Jim Joseph Foundation. The concepts reviewed in the “On the Journey” report lay the foundations for additional analysis of relevant data on experiences of working educators, and for other parts of the study, which will continue over the next 18 months. GSEHD, CASJE, and the researchers welcome comments on the working paper, which can be submitted to Joshua Fleck,

“This research lays the groundwork for a project that will provide useful evidence for policy makers, practitioners, funders, and other stakeholders, and inform decisions about how the field can attract and retain greater numbers of qualified educators,” said Bob Sherman, a leading educator and member of the CASJE leadership group. “This is pioneering research in Jewish education, critical for understanding the types of training and support systems needed to sustain and retain personnel.”

In this first phase of inquiry, researchers relied on intensive interviews, literature reviews, and other data to explore what motivates people to commit to working as Jewish educators, how they grow professionally, and in what ways their workplace conditions, lived experiences, and professional journeys shape their professional choices. Ultimately the project will provide new understanding of the working conditions and professional development interventions that make a difference to job satisfaction, self-efficacy, and career commitment. These outcomes are typically associated with educator retention and growth, and in turn learner participation, motivation, and educational outcomes.

The study benefits from independent advice of a group of technical advisers with expertise in Jewish education, statistical methods, and teacher labor markets.

Key insights from this Working Paper include:

  • The need to adopt broadly inclusive definitions of who is a “Jewish educator;”
  • The importance of measuring educator characteristics such as tenure, satisfaction, sense of self-efficacy, and commitment in conjunction with program qualities and workplace;
  • Implications of differences in the effects of workplace culture as reported in case studies of Jewish educators and in the general literature of school professional culture; and
  • The importance of examining whether and how prior experience in youth movements and summer camp prepare people for professional work in both formal and experiential educational settings.

“On the Journey” is available for download here.