By Abbie Dinowitz
As a Delet intern at JCDS this year, I learned to teach – by teaching. My Brandeis courses were certainly an integral piece of my education, but the reason I know what teaching looks like, and how to actually do it, is that I spent the year in a classroom at JCDS. Not only was I present, but I had plentiful opportunities to teach under the guidance of my superb mentors, Samara Hendin and Andrea Silton.
The progress I’ve made during my year at JCDS is incredible. It was not so long ago that I sat preparing for the first day of school, during which I would spend about fifteen minutes reading a story to my new fifth grade students. I was so unsure about where to stop and what questions to ask, that I ran every single possibility by Samara.
Fast forward about nine months, and I smoothly transitioned to two weeks of lead teaching, no problem. Over the course of the year, I planned and taught Math lessons and Tanakh lessons, Humanities lessons, and eventually, my very own Literature unit on the novel, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. I bonded with students and learned how to manage a classroom consistently. I learned how to define my learning objectives clearly, monitor engagement, and assess students’ understanding. I reflected on my practice and used those reflections to propel change and growth. Above all, I’ve gained confidence in my ability to educate.
JCDS teachers work hard to use the learning process to empower their students, and while I may not fit the technical definition of a JCDS student, I have absolutely felt empowered by JCDS teachers. One aspect of the year that was continually surprising and validating for me was that nobody was afraid to let me dive in. Despite my limited classroom experience, I was treated and respected as a teacher, with skills and talents, from the start. I am so grateful to JCDS for providing such a safe, encouraging environment as I learned to teach through practical experience. As I think about my own future classrooms, I hope to provide a similarly safe, encouraging environment for my students. JCDS had inspired me to find ways for my students to learn by doing, with support, just as I did.
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