PoP Update: Summer 2021

We share this PoP Update with you to celebrate the amazing work of our educators through the last year and to kick off a new season of learning in partnership. We were thrilled to welcome over 41 new educators and school leaders to the 2021 PoP Introductory Institute in June to work on developing a rich toolkit of skills to bring back to their classrooms and programs. We welcomed an additional 30 educators for the new PoP Advanced Track, which includes an Advanced Summer Institute and advanced webinars and coaching during the year.

We are energized by the deep learning and care that is taking place in PoP classrooms and by the knowledge that the world needs people who know how to learn Jewishly, in partnership.

Wishing you a year of health, meaningful connection, and growth.

Shana tova u’metukah, Orit and Allison


Letter to Students for the Start of the Year

PoP teacher Lianne Gross shares with us a letter she wrote to her students to help them picture the joys of learning Torah in havruta and to launch their learning for the year. We hope you find inspiration in Lianne’s letter and think about how you will answer your own students’ question: Why study in partnership?

Dear Grade 8 Students,

I am so excited to go on a wonderful learning journey with you this year. We are going to argue, grapple, laugh, and immerse ourselves in rich texts that hold thousands of years of history. This year, you are particularly lucky because we are going to do this through deep and serious havruta learning. Rabbah bar Bar Chana said: “Why are the words of Torah likened to fire? Just as fire does not burn on its own, so too are the words of Torah not to be retained by those who study alone.” You are not an island of Torah study.

This year, you will learn how to question your havruta partner and the text. You will reflect on the process and the skills. You will be the teacher and the student. You will speak up and you will attentively listen. You will gain your voice and discover the joys and wonder that silence brings.

You may have thought being a havruta means it is you and your partner, but there is another partner to whom I have alluded thus far: the text. It lives and breathes with your interpretation, ideas, revisits, struggles, and reimagination. It will fuel you and you will give it another life. Together, you, your partner, and the text, will find purpose and meaning in age old texts.

My blessing to you is that you find your inner spark, grasp onto it, and let it ignite your minds and hearts as we learn together this year.

With much excitement,
Morah Lianne


Mazal Tov, Teachers!

In June 2021 we celebrated the work of PoP teachers and school leaders at fifteen schools across the country. These schools serve nearly 4,000 students, from early childhood through high school. The gathering celebrated the educators and their amazing efforts to create environments that put relationships and collaboration at the center by teaching their students to learn Jewishly. Through their work, we saw PoP learners in action, engaged in deep, content-area learning while also developing empathy and being affected by others and Torah - or math, literature, social studies, and more. We saw rich evidence of high-quality interactions, of PoP learners developing their communication skills and building strong connections among peers. In a year filled with many challenges, teachers commented how PoP practices enabled them to keep students building relationships and learning meaningfully.


Welcome to New Staff and Coaches

As we bring new teachers and new schools into the expanding PoP network, we have new staff to support our work! Lauren Luger is PoP’s new Operations and Communications Manager. You will hear from her, and should reach out to her, with all kinds of PoP operational matters. We also welcome two new PoP coaches: Alix Greenberger and Shira Horowitz. For this PoP Update, we chatted with Alix to learn a bit about what she loves:

My favorite book to read out loud to my students, and now to my son, is Love by Matt de la Peña. If you haven’t read it, definitely do so and make sure you have a box of tissues nearby! It’s so beautiful and so poetic, and accessible to any age.

I loved using PoP as a teacher in the classroom because it provided an easy to follow progression for introducing my students to partnership work. I saw my students grow in their havruta, collaboration, and textual skills almost immediately! I taught multiple subject areas and loved the integration of PoP across those domains, noticing just how much it benefited students to have a shared language and common havruta routine in both General and Judaic Studies.

I’m excited for my journey as a coach and the chance to share how I integrated PoP into my literacy and Jewish studies instruction, and how purposeful partnership work really elevates the students’ literary conversations, understandings, and writing. Having worked with younger students, I’m also looking forward to providing that perspective and illuminating how PoP can be used in younger settings.


Establishing Trust: Setting the Stage for A Successful School Year

Josh Mocle, Middle School Social Studies faculty at Jewish Community Day School of Greater Boston

As 21st century educators, we are often encouraged to be the "guide on the side" as opposed to the "sage on the stage." And yet, there are countless educator training programs that remain "sage-centric." In part, I suspect, this is because of the assumption that the success of student-centered pedagogy and partnership learning can vary widely depending on the students in a particular class. The PoP Introductory Institute helped me begin to subvert this assumption by introducing me and my fellow educators to frameworks which create and apply classroom activities that are student/partnership-centered and still involve the teacher as a skilled guide, coach, designer and facilitator. This creates an atmosphere of support and encouragement which students experience even without the direct involvement of their teacher in their learning conversations, and that environment begins to build trust.

At the PoP Institute, we studied a Jewish text with a study partner, which helped us explore this issue of trust. While the text can have a multitude of interpretations and applications, the primary message my partner and I took from it is that our students are always listening, always watching, and asking questions because they trust us as their teachers to provide guidance and answers. It is incumbent upon us as educators to nurture the trust our students put in us, and to trust them back by assuming best intentions and trusting their questions and ideas, even (especially) from the students who challenge us.

As I head into my third school year impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, I will strive to keep the lessons of this story in mind, as students are bound to bring countless questions, concerns, and anxieties with them into the classroom and it is my job to remember that despite all of these distractions, they still want to learn. Honoring that desire means appreciating where my students are academically AND psychologically, building rapport with them, and crafting both classroom activities AND a learning environment that meets them where they are without judgement and in a way that acknowledges our shared humanity. This goal is a tall one - especially when we may also hold many of the same questions, concerns, and anxieties as our students about the pandemic-ravaged world around us - but there is no goal more important.


August Webinar Reminder

Calling all new (or new-ish!) PoP teachers to our first webinar: August 30, 2021 at 8:30 PM Eastern. We will focus on the opening of your school year with PoP. This webinar is geared towards educators who have completed the PoP Introductory Summer Institute. RSVP today.


High Holiday Resources

Hard though it is to believe, the High Holidays are right around the corner! We are delighted to share with you this family text study and activity designed by PoP for the Hadar's 5782 High Holiday reader. We hope they will offer connection and meaning to you and your loved ones through this High Holiday season.

This section was pulled from the Hadar High Holiday Reader, which can be downloaded here.


PoP Materials for All Educators

While PoP educators can find all our materials through our password-protected network site, we invite all educators to access classroom-ready materials through the PoP section of the Hadar website. These materials can help deepen a text study, build community, engage students in reflection, and much more. Whether you use them in a day school classroom, a supplementary school, in adult learning, or anywhere else, we would love to hear about your experience!


PoP Beyond the Classroom: Devash Magazine

Devash, a new weekly parashah magazine for children ages 7-11, was developed with the expertise of Pedagogy of Partnership to read independently or together with families and teachers. Devash will cover a range of topics on the parashah, including Torah commentary, cantillation, Hebrew language, midrash, halakhah, and Jewish history.

Together, we invite you to check out a sample and subscribe!

Subscribe to Devash now to receive a year of magazines with a suggested donation of $18-180. Magazines will ship monthly (4-5 issues per shipment).