This post continues the conversation about lessons learned from HaReshet, the recently concluded pilot program to train selected grantees in network-weaving. This post is by one participant, Lisa Micley of TaL AM Hebrew and Heritage Curriculum, coached during the program by chevruta partner Lisa Colton. She shares here her perspective and experiences through her network-weaving work.
By: Lisa Micley
As a classroom teacher, I always subscribed to the principle: “one Jewish child at a time,” and worked to create opportunities for each of my students to grow to their fullest potential. I have tried to transfer that principle to my work as a North American School Liaison for the TaL AM Hebrew and Heritage Curriculum. My preference is always to develop a relationship with a teacher and work directly with him or her. However, I have learned that oftentimes I am reviewing the same information with a number of teachers with limited time. In order to be in contact with more teachers, it is sometimes preferable to work with a group through a webinar or conference call or something else.
For TaL AM, the newest something else has turned out to be our Facebook group, LeV TaL AM (L’mida B’chevruta- learning with partners). Currently, we have 284 educators in our group and we are able to reach them all with one post. The most frequent posters in the group are TaL AM teachers around the world sharing their work with each other. The sharing is now happening directly from one teacher to her colleagues through our Facebook group which speeds up the process and gets many more people involved. There is networking, sharing and discussion on the TaL AM Facebook group.
The recent TaL AM Institutes in New Jersey and Jerusalem became posts on our Facebook group as teachers uploaded pictures of their sessions, workshop leaders and of materials they learned about at the Institutes. We were excited to see that a connection was being made between the live experience and the online experience. Our goal is for these posts to be the beginning of conversations which will continue the learning throughout the school year. We hope the Facebook group will be a place TaL AM teachers will turn for suggestions, answers to questions or to discuss a specific success or challenge with their colleagues.
So far, we have learned that Facebook is a tool which is often underestimated. We are delighted with how much has happened in the group and are looking for ways to archive what has been recorded there. TaL AM educators are expressing their appreciation for the value of what is recorded on the Facebook group by asking us for these archives. Our advice to others would be to set some goals first and then jump in and try something new if you are looking to reach a broader audience and include more voices in the conversation. Network weaving is more efficient than working with individuals but it requires time and patience and perseverance just like any other serious activity. The best part is the feeling of community and collaboration which comes with the many voices which chime in. The hardest part is keeping the energy going in the group and encouraging participation.
We are looking forward to beginning the coming school year with LeV TaL AM as a part of the way we work with teachers around the world and hope it will continue to enrich and enhance our work.
Lisa Micley is North American School Liaison for the TaL AM Hebrew and Heritage Curriculum.