One goal at BIMA and Genesis is for all members of the community (participants and staff) to feel invested, engaged, and actively involved. We invest a lot of time into supporting the educators during the summer as well as giving them an opportunity to learn and grow as educators. This reflects a belief that everyone at BIMA and Genesis is a learner, and that engaging in active learning and being reflective about one’s craft as an educator makes one a better educator now and positively impacts one’s work.
As a group, the community educators (CEs) and interns engaged in deep learning about pluralism, using personal stories to build community, and creating a culture of appreciation. As individuals, each staff member engaged in an “investigation” – an opportunity to explore an element of their work as an educator with the guidance of a mentor. We see this as a gift of time to devote to their personal professional growth.
Community educators were instructed to choose an area of educational practice “which is connected to what you are doing here; which you like and are interested in; in which there is room for growth; and which is important to you.” We provided a structure, a mentor, opportunities for guidance, and precious time in the schedule for them to work on their investigations and share their learning with each other.
Interns developed and crafted research organized around a “central Jewish informal educational question.” Each intern created and chose a question with the intention of using the educational context of BIMA or Genesis as a laboratory for pedagogical inquiry. Through the use of observation, survey, and interviews, each intern collected data and then analyzed their findings for presentation at the conclusion of the summer.
We hope to give you a sense of the learning that happened this summer. Over the next few weeks, we will post pieces of the “products” of their learning on this blog. We hope that by sharing some of our learning in a public way, others will think about related educational issues in their settings and we can continue the conversations we started during the summer at BIMA and Genesis.