When entities merge and converge, as is the case with Prizmah, there is bound to be some confusion. Who’s who? What’s what? Building a new organization, not from scratch but from the pieces, programs and expertise of several legacy organizations, is a process. It takes time to clarify goals and direction, to get everyone rowing in the same direction. Prizmah’s mission is clear: to provide day schools with tools to foster the educational excellence, financial vitality and community support that will make a day school education the first choice for Jewish families.

Where does edJEWcon fit?

edJEWcon is a Prizmah program that provides support in the form of coaching, resources and thought-leadership, to Jewish day schools as they navigate the transformational impact of technological change on teaching and learning. edJEWcon employs a blogging platform to teach modern skills and literacies, document process and growth (including “failure” FAIL= First Attempt In Learning), and establish reflective culture and practice.

edJEWcon’s core values are: transparency, risk-taking, reflection, sharing, innovation and collaboration.

edJEWcon’s Core Values

It is our belief that schools that embrace these values as part of the culture of teaching and learning can not help but to be and become places of educational excellence. What we must understand is that the very definition of and benchmarks for educational excellence have changed. We no longer live in a knowledge economy where knowledge itself is a prized commodity. We now exist in an information society where it’s not what you know, but what you can do with what you know, that matters.

Schools have been generally slower to respond to societal change than other sectors. Because of  the very nature of what we do, nurturing and educating  young people, preparing them for a future that we can not foresee, there has been reluctance to let go of the past. What if we get it wrong?

The Comfort Zone
We’re all familiar with the importance of adopting a growth mindset, but where are we still clinging to old school ideas?

From my work in schools, I’ve run across many of the same “comfort zones” again and again:

  • Grades as indicators of feedback and student success
  • Fear of allowing students (and teachers) to share work openly because they might (will!) make mistakes (which will make us -school, teachers, etc- “look bad”)
  • Only sharing our successes
  • Teachers who don’t see themselves as learners, lack of expectations for teacher growth and practice of skills
  • Grouping students by age

What’s different about edJEWcon is that we don’t claim to have the answers to how things should be done.  There is a world of possibilities, and every school is unique. Our interest lies in supporting the process of growth through reflection, documentation and connecting educators and schools.

Educational excellence depends, in large part, on our ability to embrace an uncertain future. In order to truly prepare our students for their futures, we adults must face our own fears. We must take risks, and we must leave our comfort zones. And we must do it all openly and transparently, learning how to accept feedback and even failure. In other words, we must be learners.

What are some of the “comfort zones” you’ve observed in your own school and others?
How can being transparent and connected move all schools forward on a path of risk-taking and growth so that we can be places of educational excellence for 21st century learners?