Educators from three Greater MetroWest day schools gathered for a Quest for Teaching Excellence conference on Nov. 6 at the Kushner campus in Livingston.
The program drew 280 participants from Golda Och Academy in West Orange, Gottesman RTW Academy in Randolph, and Joseph Kushner Jewish Academy/Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston.
Funding for the Quest program comes from the Paula and Jerry Gottesman Family Supporting Foundation and the Greater MetroWest Day School Community Fund, both of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ. The Gottesman foundation has committed $1 million per year for the next 10 years toward broadening middle-income affordability and promoting teacher professional development through the Quest program. The Day School Community Fund supplements that with about $150,000 a year in collaborative grants for all four Greater MetroWest day schools — including the Jewish Educational Center network in Elizabeth.
The conference theme, Learning Together, was presented as a model of collaboration for enhanced educational outcomes.
Keynote speaker John D’Auria, director of Teachers21 in Boston, focused on “growth mindset,” based upon research that shows that children who believe they can improve in school — or in any endeavor — actually do better. A growth mindset, he said, lies behind students’ ability to learn from challenges and mistakes and seek out better strategies when initial approaches are unsuccessful. D’Auria will be conducting follow-up with all the schools.
The participants, teachers and administrators, gathered in “affinity groups,” facilitated conversations organized by grade level and subject. Experts conducted 12 workshops on such subjects as Flipped Learning, a technology-rich approach to education; using Smartboards to enhance teaching of Jewish texts; interactive and communicative strategies for language learners; and time management for teachers.