Leah Ticker (Cohort 3)

Leah Ticker, a cohort 3 alumna of DeLeT HUC, teaches first grade, general and Judaic studies, at the Brawerman Day School in Los Angeles. Brawerman is a Reform day school whose mission is to help students acquire competence and confidence as communicators, problem solvers and “mentshes” through an integrated secular and Judaic curriculum.

How did you develop the unit that you are sharing with us?
The mini-unit that I’m sharing is an integrated three-lesson unit I created during my summer at the Day School Novice Teachers’ Curriculum Workshop at Pardes. It was created for primary students – in my case, first graders, to integrate physical science standards and Parashat Beresheet. We launched the unit on Earth Day, and it tied into first grade’s theme of Teva. While I thoroughly enjoyed teaching this unit, I enjoyed just as much the process of creating it. It was an unbelievable learning experience! It was a totally collaborative effort. In Jerusalem, I worked in collaboration with my assistant principal, Hannah Bennett, and stateside, I worked with my mother, Denny, a middle school science teacher. I also made use of technology that was somewhat unfamilar to me. The lessons were created using SmartBoard’s Notebook software, and I used videos and resources available from Discovery Education’s streaming service.

Upon reflection, how has going through the DeLeT program shaped the way you function in your school and view your role in your school?
The biggest way that DeLeT has influenced me is in my quest to see the “big picture” and outcomes of my teaching and to think about the best ways in which I can develop my practice and myself as I teach. Looking outside of my classroom I’ve learned to see the “big picture”. I see what happens in my classroom affects the home and the family. I find that what I provide in my classroom, the Jewish experiences, values and ideas, become a kind of “template” for what can happen at home. Because of my experiences in working collaboratively with mentors and clinical educators (field supervisors) within the DeLeT program I am used to working collaboratively and deeply appreciate its value. At my school I naturally look for opportunities to collaborate, to work across grade levels and teams. The classroom can be isolating without that. It enriches me and contributes to my school!

Can you discuss your vision of JDS in the future- what do you think are the most critical factors in advancing JDS ed in the future?
I envision seeing more family involvement through education and supportive services. I would love to see the development of family education centers and resources that are accessible through schools. I think that we must be sure that day school education is affordable or the “average” Jewish family.

How does integration factor into your teaching?
The most time consuming of my tasks is to try to integrate my teaching across the disciplines, general and Judaic. It’s probably the most challenging thing that I do! It is interesting to see that young children are so naturally “integrated”. They don’t differentiate between content areas. They are drawn by interests and experiences. So, it’s the most challenging for a teacher, in thinking it through and in its preparation, but the most natural way for the children to learn. Seeing the connections comes naturally to them!