I’M Debby Jacoby Ruben, a midwest to west coast transplant. I look for opportunities every day to learn something new. Recently, I’ve developed a deep passion for online connectedness and the potential of Educational Technology to advance and deepen learning. I began dipping my toe a couple years ago through a course at Yeshiva University’s Institute for University School Partnership on educational technology integration, moved to Twitter, where EdTech conversations are fast and furious, and recently connected with the Powerful Learning Practice network.
I love to question everything. For me, being Jewish is about asking questions and seeking answers. My early education years were formal and rigid – everything came from Sinai.
I ask questions, look for answers, and am comfortable standing in the sometimes uncomfortable space in-between. I step out of my comfort zone and look to connect with anyone who has something to teach me or wants something to learn from me. I believe that connectedness and unity have something powerful to contribute to learning and living a joyful, meaningful Jewish existence.
Along the path of life I’ve met many guides who have expanded my knowledge, introduced me to new ideas, encouraged my questions and challenged my perspectives. Being a connected learner I routinely move among these paths and bump into guides of all sorts on a daily basis. To all of them I am most grateful. My hope is that by facilitating and extending conversations, I am encouraging meaningful learning experiences for others, and growing the momentum, and potential, of connected energy and joyful living.
I’ve spent the past year coaching a day school in New Jersey through an Action Research plan, as part of a larger initiative. Using technology tools to engage in collaborative dialogue, community-building and peer sharing, the process focused on identifying common teacher concerns and a collective wondering that yielded a focus on how teachers could achieve greater student proficiency in their independent work. The majority of this work took place online and in asynchronous time, supported by monthly in-person (peer-led) meetings.
Previously, I spent four plus years working very closely with 5 synagogues in the Bay Area on a strategic change process. The focus was the youth education program – the synagogue school – and a systemic review of all of the components that support and contribute to its success. This process involved multiple stakeholders, consultants, strategic planning, assessment, project managing, curriculum mapping and developing, professional development and leadership training – and was primarily facilitated through frequent and regularly scheduled in-person meetings supported by technology tools in between meeting time.
There’s a lot of learning that needs to still happen – but as we get more comfortable learning, listening and sharing together, connecting with all the resources that 21st century technology affords, the results are bound to be fruitful and satisfying in ways that we haven’t experienced before.
So let’s learn – together – how to do that in the best possible way.
Debby Jacoby Ruben, M.A.J.E., RJE
Learning From Nature: Three Stories
THE FIRST STORY IS ABOUT PLANTING A BAMBOO TREE. When bamboo is planted, watered and nurtured for an entire growing season nothing grows above the ground—not even an inch. In the second growing season a farmer must continue
to water, fertilize and care for the bamboo—and still nothing happens above ground. Four years pass. Seasons go in and out and a farmer continues nurturing, nourishing, and caring for the bamboo, with not much to show for it. But in the fifth year the bamboo shoots up to more than eighty feet, in just one growing season.What farmers know, but can’t see, is underground the bamboo was taking root and expanding its capacity, building the support system it needed to sustain its future. For four slow years, beneath the earth’s surface and hidden from view, an enormous network of roots was developing to support the bamboo’s sudden growth.
THE SECOND STORY IS ABOUT PLANTING A CAROB TREE. Seventy years, the Talmud teaches (TA’ANIT 23A), is the time it takes for a carob tree to bear fruit. Why would anyone plant a tree that doesn’t fruit for so many years? “Just as my parents and
grandparents planted trees for me, so will I plant trees for my children and grandchildren so they will be able to eat of the fruit.” The Talmud is teaching the communal obligation to support future generations. Someone who plants a carob tree knows, but can’t see, that generations yet to come will reap the harvest and enjoy the fruit.
THE THIRD STORY IS ABOUT NESS.
Click here to download the NESS Annual Report 2011