About the Teacher
Jocelyn Segal is a graduate of Brandeis University’s Day School Leadership through Teaching (DeLeT)/MAT program. While in the program, Jocelyn participated in a beit midrash for teachers that inspired her to think about incorporating some of the same beit midrash structures and havruta practices into her own classroom. Jocelyn primarily teaches general studies, but sees herself as a Jewish educator, incorporating Jewish history, values, and texts into her teaching. Jocelyn has also been a mentor teacher in the MAT/DeLeT program.
Jocelyn created a Jewish values curriculum for her third-grade classroom because she saw a need for a curriculum that connected general studies classroom values — such as working together, respecting class members, and celebrating the uniqueness of each student — to Jewish tradition. In this vein, Jocelyn chose generative Jewish value texts to explore with her students, through a wide variety of activities (including music, storytelling and yoga), structures (such as havruta) and whole class discussions.
Jocelyn's Teaching Philosophy
The classroom should be a space where children feel respected and needed. Students need to be taught how to work together. The values of the classroom need to be seen explicitly on the classroom walls, modeled and reinforced by the teacher, practiced by the students and reflected upon by the class. The community of students should be one where the class can work through difficult situations together and celebrate each small and giant accomplishment of its members.
In the day school context of a dual language curriculum and limited time to teach, at least partial integration of subjects is extremely important, and Jocelyn has worked extensively to develop methods to integrate Jewish and general studies. Additionally, Jocelyn is committed to the idea that children should be truly challenged in order to grow and learn; therefore, teachers must provide opportunities for students to grapple with difficult questions — including those at the intersection of Jewish studies and general studies — instead of just looking for the "right answer." Students should be taught how to listen to the ideas of others, feel empowered to disagree with their peers’ ideas, and learn how to articulate and support their own ideas.
Jocelyn's Ideal Jewish Day School Classroom: Some Thoughts
On the Teacher’s Role
The teacher is a master facilitator as opposed to the holder of all knowledge. She creates tasks that support student learning and enables them to spend time learning independently in small groups. The teacher also creates bulletin boards full of students’ work and of representations of ideas that assist in their discussions and learning processes. As students work in small groups, the teacher is constantly moving from group to group, scaffolding their learning and challenging each group to move from its starting point, questioning students’ thinking and challenging them in order to expand the how and why of their ideas. When the teacher works with students as a full group, she teaches specific ideas and skills and connects her teaching to their classroom environment and small group work. The teacher also uses full class time to teach and assist students in the use of appropriate discussion language and kind words.
On Students: Actions and Attitudes
Students work together around the classroom. Their bodies are oriented towards each other as they take turns talking and listening. Students seek connections with each other in learning as opposed to sitting alone at a desk and relying on the teacher to give them ideas, learning from one another even as they socialize and form personal relationships. Students are able to independently access materials to support their own learning and are given the responsibility to care for their classroom resources and its members. During whole class time and small group learning, students actively engage in important discussions and actively share, challenging and supporting each other's ideas. Students recognize that Jewish texts have meaning in their lives, and that the values they uncover in these texts can inform not only how they behave in the classroom but how they function on the playground and in the world. This recognition is manifest in the classroom as a place in which students care deeply about one another and actively show compassion for one another.