Eileen Levinson, Founder & Creative Director
Wendy Jackler, Program Manager
So many times we hear: "Our students are learning but their hearts are not into it." Teachers, Rabbis, and Campus Professionals learn how to master and convey information, but their training does not give them the skills to bring this content into the hearts, souls, and lives of their constituencies. Ayeka's Soulful Education system gives Jewish professionals the educational philosophy and classroom pedagogy to accomplish these goals. To bring Soulful Education to more schools and organizations, Ayeka needs to identify and train super-star educators in its educational approach, who will then be partnered with institutions to train their staffs.
Ayeka's training material uses primary sources (often in translation) from the Tanach, Talmud, and Jewish Thought.
Ayeka's 6-step educational approach is appropriate for all Jewish subjects. Ayeka teaches Judaic Studies teachers and Rabbis how to bring the subject they are teaching - whether from the Tanach, Talmud, Tefila, or Jewish Thought - into the hearts, souls, and lives of their students. Teachers often use the language: "We are Ayeka-cizing our Judaic studies classes."
Ayeka has developed a replicable 6-step educational approach. First of all, Ayeka teaches educators how to instill a learning atmosphere of safe space. Then our soulful pedagogy includes the following steps:
1. Transitioning to the subject - How to enable participants to become fully present in the learning.
2. Framing the learning - How to personally introduce the subject by talking openly and vulnerably about why this subject is important to the teacher, why s/he needs to study this subject, and how s/he hopes that through their learning together s/he will personally and spiritually grow. The teacher models how Jewish learning can affect and enhance our lives.
3. Learning the texts with our minds & hearts - Looking for what the texts can say to us personally, right now, to help us become our better selves.
4. Processing the texts - through reflective writing exercises with 4 questions and shared chevruta. The template of the 4 questions: A. Where are you vis-a-vis this subject? B. How can you imagine/envision the learning of this subject impacting your life? C. What do you think are the challenges in bringing this subject into your life? D. What piece of advice would you give to yourself to help you take small steps to enabling this subject to enter and enhance your life?
After the reflective time of writing, the students share in chevruta whatever the writing exercise brought up for them. This is a crucial step - the learning does not become impactful until the students talk about how it intersects with their lives.
5. Personal Summary - Participants summarize to themselves the impact of the subject.
6. Transitioning out of class - Participants check-in with other until the next session regarding how they are faring with the piece of advice they wanted to give to themselves. Teaching a good class is NOT the goal - the goal is what happens after the class is over. The class becomes the springboard for after life after the class.
Ayeka has been extensively evaluated by 2 external agencies - the Rosov Consulting Agency and the Avi Chai Foundation - to measure the effects of our training on teachers, rabbis, and Hillel professionals. Over 90% of the educators wrote that they became better listeners, their educational approach was enhanced, and that they themselves found more personal meaning in their teaching. Veteran educators have witnessed the phenomenon of good teachers burning-out after several years. The Ayeka professional training revitalizes the motivation of teachers. Their learning how to bring Jewish wisdom into the hearts of their students energizes them and gives them hope that they can have a greater impact in their calling.
The mind learns differently than the heart. The mind can assimilate information very quickly. The heart learns slowly. In order to connect the learning with their own stories and paths, the participants need time to be alone and personally reflect on the texts. Rav Kook writes that the key to bringing Jewish Wisdom into our lives is imagination. People need to imagine becoming a self that has become better through the learning. We need to give our students, of any age, the time to be alone with the sources, to reflect and personalize the material, to imagine how it could affect them, to write and to talk about this. Otherwise it will remain disconnected content that has not entered their lives.
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