What it's like to be a distance learning teacher: Talmud Torah

Author credit: Minneapolis Jewish Life - see original article here


Here’s to the educators—on a moment’s notice, they completely transformed how they do their jobs to make sure our kids’ Jewish education didn’t miss a beat. We wanted to know: How are they handling this? What are they learning? How can we help them? For the next several weeks, we’ll be sharing interviews with teachers at our seven partner schools.


Kara Rosenwald, a middle-school teacher at Talmud Torah, quickly found a way to pivot her class to online learning.  


How did you feel about the transition to distance learning? That was easy for me—I was used to using Zoom for other things. To prep for distance learning, we were able to use some of the [morale grant] money Federation gave initially to open some more Zoom accounts, so we had enough accounts to support all the different classes. 

How did your lessons change? This spring we're covering Israel, and to go along with the unit we do some cooking. Other years I’ve brought my food processor in and we’ve made hummus together in class. This year, I sent the ingredients for hummus and told them to meet me on Zoom to make hummus together. I got such an amazing reaction from both kids and parents. 

And how did it go? The kids were so tuned in, so engaged. At the end they said, ‘This is really fun. Can we cook something else?’  

I hadn’t planned to, but they liked it—so, sure! We made shakshuka and I offered an optional challah baking class. They asked if we could have cooking classes during Pesach break. As I said to Hazzan Lipton, why wouldn’t I do it? If the kids are asking for it, and want to engage with me, I’m going to do it. So during Passover we made matzah nachos, matza tortilla chips, and then I ended up offering that class at Adath. 

So overall, your kids have adapted well to distance learning? Yes, my class adapted well to distance learning. We have used technology to connect all year, our Israel curriculum is all online already—so this pushed us to take it up a level to have our classes meeting online in Zoom. 



When you return to school, do you think you’ll continue with the cooking classes since they were so successful?

I think I will! I also might offer more time outside of the classroom.

 

Do you have any advice for parents during this time?

It’s okay to step away from whatever assignment you’ve been assigned if it’s not meaningful, and change it to make it meaningful for the people in your house. If you can figure out something to learn to together, grow together, and share time together, that’s what we’ll all remember from this.  


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