For more than a century, Jewish LearningWorks has invested deeply and consistently in Bay Area Jewish educators. Enabling educators to thrive as adult learners and as teachers is at the core of our mission.
Throughout our 2017 strategic planning process, we heard repeatedly from stakeholders that we continue to play an essential role in ensuring that professional development is available, accessible and valued in the Bay Area Jewish community. Last fall, we conducted our first annual Teacher/Educator survey, facilitated by our partners at Rosov Consulting. To enhance our impact, we sought to better understand what teachers and senior educators in the Bay Area are seeking from professional development, and what prevents them from getting it.
We are grateful to the 178 individuals who responded to the survey! This included a diverse group of educators serving in congregations, JCCs, day schools and other youth serving organizations of all sizes in five geographic regions.
Here we share our top ten findings, which have implications for all of our organizations:
1. Our community is home to many long-time teachers.
Just over 30% of respondents have more than twenty years of teaching experience. An additional 30% have between 11-20 years’ experience. Almost 60% of respondents are employed full-time.
2. Lack of time is the primary impediment to participation in professional development.
A majority of respondents identified time when asked what would deter participation in professional development. A separate question exploring the biggest challenge faced by respondents also produced many responses referencing lack of time, or of paid time.
3. Yet, educators do make time to participate in professional development opportunities.
Nearly 86% of respondents had indeed participated in professional development within the past year.
4. Jewish Learning Works was the most frequently cited source of professional development support, followed by the Jewish Federation and the Contemporary Jewish Museum.
5. We still have work to do.
In spite of being satisfied with the number (70%) and quality (87%) of training opportunities available to them, only 60% of our teachers describe themselves as “well prepared” to do their job.
6. The top three areas of interest for future training included teaching Jewish values, curriculum/program design and project based learning.
We are currently developing professional learning opportunities in response to this request - watch for updates this winter and spring!
7. While networking is important, the opportunity to study with content experts is more highly valued. While 80% of respondents identified expert teachers as a reason for participation, only 20% cited networking.
8. Teachers feel best prepared to build rapport with children, address emotional issues and plan engaging lessons. They feel least prepared to address the needs of atypical learners effectively and use technology.
9. Senior educational leaders have a strong sense of where teachers need support.
Those who supervise teachers identified the same strengths and challenges among their teaching staff as the staff themselves.
10. Leveraging educational technology is the next frontier.
In addition to teachers reporting lower levels of skill in using technology with students, only half of our respondents (47%) described themselves as likely or very likely to participate in virtual professional development opportunities. A significant number of respondents (58%) identified in-person workshops as their preferred mode of learning.
Our professional learning team is mining the findings of the survey, as well as the feedback we have received in our conversations with many of you before, during and after our strategic plan. We are experimenting this year with offering the topics most important to you in the modalities you have requested.
As we approach the 10th birthday of the INCLUDE special needs initiative we remain committed to helping educators effectively address the needs of all types of learners. We are proud to offer individualized support and consultation year-round, and are thrilled to host the Matan Institute staff from New York to enrich our teachers at this year’s INCLUDE Day of Learning on March 11.
Please watch your inbox over the next month for additional new opportunities available for teen educators through the Bay Area teen initiative, as well as a new series that will provide an introduction to project based learning and its benefits.
We welcome your feedback on the survey results, or your areas of interest and invite you to be in touch this winter.