For me, it’s a source of pride – I was in DeLeT Cohort 1! I was part of that brave group that signed on to a program that had a great idea, but nothing to show for it yet. I knew I was taking a risk by joining a group in its pilot year. Who knew if the innovative ideas of the program’s creators would make a difference? And how could they teach us everything we needed to know about teaching and transforming Jewish day schools all in one year?
Of course it was never the intention to teach us everything in one year. It’s not possible. Our mentor teachers and the DeLeT faculty did their best to teach us some of the skills and philosophies to start us on our way. But more importantly, we learned that a great teacher is always learning and improving. A great teacher is confident enough to collaborate with others, reflecting on his or her teaching and finding ways to improve the students’ experience. And from the beginning, the leaders of DeLeT have modeled that belief as they looked to us, the programs’ participants, for feedback that would help shape the program’s future.
One benefit of being part of the first cohort has been the privilege of engaging in that ever- evolving conversation for the last ten years. Whether it has been dealing with the struggles of first-year teaching or the search for new challenges as we gain more experience, DeLeT and the DeLeT Alumni Network (DAN) have provided resources for support and learning. The early cohorts will continue to blaze the trail of DeLeT alumni as we progress through different phases of our teaching careers. And as more people join our ranks of experienced teachers, we can take advantage of even more opportunities to share and learn from each other.
Looking back after ten years, I can say that for me, taking a chance on a new endeavor was well worth the risk. I learned an enormous amount about teaching and learning, and my experiences with DeLeT continue to inform my teaching. I’ve also been granted access to an amazing network of past, present and future teacher leaders. DeLeT has established itself as a force in the world of Jewish education, a source for innovative thinking and action in Jewish day schools. And there are lots of ways for each of us to contribute to this grand effort to shape and improve the world of Jewish education.
This year, as we celebrate DeLeT’s 10th Anniversary, the DAN has several such opportunities in store. Come reconnect with old friends, strengthen your professional network and take part in powerful professional development as DeLeT joins the North American Jewish Day School Conference, with a full day of programming specifically for DeLeT alumni. And read our series of alumni reflections, with a new article posted here on the website each month.
In addition to promoting the value of life-long learning, another strength of DeLeT’s is the diversity of our alumni. We’ve done so many different things in our classrooms and in our lives; we really have a lot to share and a lot to learn from each other. When we asked alumni to write something depicting an important and inspiring aspect of their journeys as Jewish educators, we didn’t know quite what to expect. What we got in return shows just how rich the teaching profession can be. Alumni made observations about the workings of their schools, shared successes, challenges and inspiring solutions from their classrooms, and offered opinions on how to make things better.
DeLeT teachers are passionate about Jewish education. We’re reflective and creative, and we like to discuss. The authors of the upcoming articles offer one experience and one point of view, but there is so much more to say! Read the articles, then post a response. Ask a question, offer a different perspective, share a story and keep the conversation going. We’ve come as far as we have over the last 10 years because you, our alumni, keep pushing us forward.
~ Sarah Burns