PoP Educator Update
Welcome to our summer update! We are thrilled to welcome a new school partnership manager, Deena Messinger, who you can learn more about in a fun-filled interview below. Listen to our new PoP Havruta Playlist, designed to help set the tone for meaningful partnership learning experiences. Make sure to explore PoP through the eyes of Leah, PoP's summer high school fellow, as she reflects on her experiences participating in the PoP Introductory Institute, and take a peek into a middle school classroom. Finally, we invite you to check out the High Holiday resources and PoP calendar for the year.
As we look towards the new year together, we are reminded of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook's words: "In everything you do, you encounter sparks full of life and light, aspiring to rise toward the heights. You help them, and they help you".
We wish you all a year filled with deep learning and meaningful connection.
Shana tova u’metukah,
PoP's network of educators and school leaders continues to grow! As we move into this exciting growth phase for PoP, we are thrilled to welcome Deena Messinger, PoP's new School Partnership Manager, to our team. In this role, she will steward relationships with PoP schools, facilitate new programs, and support PoP's continued growth. Deena will also be joining the PoP coaching team this year!
For this update, we ask Deena a few questions to learn more about her:
What are you most excited about in your new role?
I am excited to interact with educators and school leaders at different schools and to feel like I am having an impact in multiple, diverse places. I am looking forward to working with teachers, which is really dear to my heart.
How long have you been a teacher?
In June, I finished 25 years in the classroom of Jewish day schools.
What do you find the most compelling about PoP?
Most of all, I appreciate the thoughtfulness of PoP's method. Everything is grounded in research and reflection about what's actually happening among learners in any given learning environment. I love PoP's rootedness in Jewish tradition and practice, bringing those ideas and values to any subject area or context. PoP's learning and teaching method helps form kids' lives as learners and as Jews. It helps them see these as integrated identities.
What would your occupation be if you had not gone into a career in Jewish education?
I'd be a nurse! I have such respect for their knowledge and responsibilities. I've been lucky to have many wonderful nurses in moments when my family needed them. The nurses who have impacted us the most have been a calm and wonderful presence in challenging moments, providing support every step of the way.
What are your favorite hobbies?
I am an avid reader and a big crossword puzzle person. I like any kind of word puzzle or game!
What is a go-to phrase or idiom that you use?
I often say to my children and students, "It's ok to have more than one feeling about something." Being able to hold multiple emotions equally is a really important skill.
Music has the power to inspire us, to express emotions difficult to describe, or set the tone for excitement, joy, and deep thinking. With this idea in mind, we created this PoP Havruta Playlist to help infuse this energy into learning. You can play songs from this musical selection while students are gathering their materials and preparing for their havrutot. These songs can help set the tone for an exciting and meaningful period of partnership learning.
PoP High School Fellow, Leah Koritz, shares her reflections on the PoP Introductory Institute. In her reflection, Leah explores the value of learning in partnership with others, regardless of age, skill, and knowledge.
I spent the end of June learning with over 60 Jewish educators from across the country at the PoP Introductory Institute. There, I studied frameworks that promote an engaged classroom and havruta experience. I am not a Jewish educator (yet!), but rather, a PoP High School Fellow. Still, I left each session feeling inspired by the PoP approach to learning and by this new community.
At the Institute, I participated in a havruta about the story of a teacher, Rav Papa, and a student, Rav Shimi. In the story, Rav Shimi embarasses and angers his teacher by asking him too many questions. At first, I was exasperated. Questions are at the heart of Judaism; why is this text condemning curiosity? My havruta, however, viewed this story in a different way. He suggested that Rav Papa was angry not because his student was asking too many questions, but because he didn’t teach the material as well as he had hoped as a result of his student asking so many questions. Rav Papa was angry at himself, not at his student.
The conversation I had with my havruta was enthralling, with the text at the center of our discussion. My havruta and I created a perfect partnership learning triangle (two partners and the text). We listened and spoke equally, always involving the text as another equal voice in the discussion by paying close attention to its details and following the questions and possibilities it helped raise. This havruta experience showcased that my voice matters, regardless of my age. This experience also taught me that my understanding was limited without the help of my human and text partners. Bringing multiple voices into the conversation, I was able to deepen my understanding.
This one havruta experience is a microcosm of what PoP’s method is capable of. For those 20 minutes, I felt as if I was a Talmudic rabbi, fervently discussing opinions about a living, breathing document. During my gap year next year in Israel, and then in college, I am going to keep PoP’s methodology in the front of my mind and the incredible experiences from the Institute right alongside it.
Rebecca Ben-Gideon, Middle School Teacher and PoP School Leader at B'nai Shalom Day School
At B'nai Shalom Day School, students know their ideas and questions are valued. Rebecca Ben-Gideon, middle school teacher and PoP School Leader, encourages her students to use the classroom walls to explore their ideas and wonderings, creating a visual representation of their PoP learning throughout the year.
PoP created a Berakhah-Teller to help you to connect with one another in new ways, reflect on the holiday, and provide words of blessing as you enter the new year. Share this with students or as a way to greet family and friends at a Rosh Hashanah gathering!
Download the 2022-2023 PoP Foundational Webinar Calendar
Foundational webinars are geared towards educators in their first year of PoP training or any PoP teacher looking to refresh their PoP toolkit.
Download the 2022-2023 Experienced PoP Educator Program Offerings
Experienced PoP Educator Programs are geared towards educators who have been using PoP for a year or more.
Be in touch if you want to share a glimpse of PoP in action in your classroom or school in future updates!
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