By COLlive reporter
On the 19th of Shvat (January 20, 2014) over 100 teachers and educators from all over the NYC area (Connecticut, Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey) joined together to learn and network at a joint Inservice Day, organized by Mrs. Devora Krasnianski of the Chabad Early Childhood Education (CECE) Network, a project of The Shluchim Office.
The CECE Network’s joint Inservice Days bring high-quality workshops and presenters to the many small and large Chabad preschools in the area. At these events, educators have the opportunity to network with and learn from teachers in other schools.
There are so many wonderful things happening in the different schools, and opportunities such as these provide the framework for educators to share and gain inspiration from each other’s experiences and work.
Rivkah Schack, Educational Director of Lamplighters Yeshivah (Crown Heights), began her seminar entitled, “Learning Middos on the Job: An Introduction to Practical Life in the Jewish Montessori Classroom,” with an overview of how positive behavior is shaped in human beings in general–through the lens of Torah/Chassidus and through scientific pedagogy.
By using the “why” and “what” of education as a starting point, Jewish educators from any model can speak a common language in crafting learning activities that achieve the goal of reinforcing positive behaviors like order, independence, coordination and concentration in the preschool classroom. She included a “mini course” on practical life–the content area of a Jewish Montessori classroom that includes care of self, care of the environment and motor control exercises.
Chanie Wilschanski, an Early Childhood Consultant and teacher in Beth Rivkah Seminary, shared the importance of observation and documentation in the early childhood classroom. She covered why we observe, what we hope to learn and practical ways to document amidst the busy day.
In addition, Chanie shared many practical ideas of observing and documenting in her own classroom and how she used it to involve the parents and evolve new curriculum goals. At the end of the workshop she opened the floor for questions and enlightened the teachers with many different ways they can observe and document within the schedule and routines they already have in place.
Later in the morning, Mrs. Schack introduced a short course on crafting a comprehensive language arts program in the preschool classroom, taking into account what is known about how children acquire language and the words of the Rebbeim on the alef-beis. Educators walked away with a “roadmap” chart of key experiences as they matched them up to hands-on examples of some of the activities designed and/or utilized at Lamplighters Yeshivah.
In a separate workshop facilitated by Mrs. Devora Krasnianski, teachers shared practical ideas that work well in their classrooms – bulletin boards, kid’s favorite activities, Shabbat parties and more. This created an atmosphere of sharing and learning from each other, as well as networking between the various schools. Mrs. Krasnianski also shared several ideas that have been collected on the CECE Network’s Pinterest boards (pinterest.com/cecenetwork).
In the final session, Krasnianski shared some new practices and educational ideas that schools around the world are implementing and how they might be of use in Chabad preschools. She introduced the ideas of tinkering – providing the materials and environment for the children to create their own inventions and creations.
She also described the elements of the Project Approach – allowing the children to work on a large scale project over an extended period of time, and all the learning and life skill development that can happen. And on a final note, detailed how some schools are integrating technology into their programs.
Throughout the day, teachers from various schools had opportunities to network and share ideas, challenges and solutions. These relationships will hopefully continue throughout the year, so that all schools in the region can learn and gain from each other’s experiences.
Through the years, the CECE Network has arranged many exciting workshops, learning and networking opportunities, thus raising the level of education and professionalism for the many schools that participate in the events and receive the CECE Network materials.
The CECE (Chabad Early Childhood Education) Network was established seven years ago by The Shluchim Office to serve as a central support and resource network for those who run or direct a Chabad preschool. Its goal is to help directors make their local Chabad preschool the preeminent choice within their community. Dr. & Mrs. Joseph Walder of Skokie, IL are the dedicated visionaries who support this critical institution.
The CECE Network provides for its members a framework for deeper thinking about how an excellent preschool can create long-lasting connections with Judaism. Among its many services, the CECE Network provides an online forum, annual and regional conferences, a peer review system, online workshops, conference calls, seminars, articles, and guided online discussion groups.
For more info, visit http://www.shluchim.org/CECEabout