The curriculum for the MAEd falls into three main categories:
- courses on pedagogy
- courses on teaching Judaic studies and
- courses and mentoring specifically designed to support student fieldwork.
The Educator’s Toolkit I: Skills for Success (EDU 530) 3 credits
The first in a sequence of courses on the fundamentals of teaching and learning, this class introduces the essential skills and conceptual thinking used by educators today. Students will emerge with a toolbox of skills which they can flexibly adapt to a variety of educational contexts, as well as a solid foundation of concepts which will inform the rest of their coursework and their practice as educators. Topics explored include lesson planning, classroom community and behavior management, differentiated instruction, and assessment.
The Educator’s Toolkit II: Teaching for All Learners (EDU 532) 3 credits
In this course we explore specific strategies for teaching and consider the impact of teacher and student beliefs and knowledge on teaching and learning. Students are introduced to and experiment with a variety of classical and contemporary teaching models.
The Educator’s Toolkit III: Curriculum Design (EDU 534) 3 credits
What should we teach and why? This course provides a variety of frameworks for making some of the most important educational decisions. Bridging theory and practice, the course builds expertise in Understanding by Design, models of curriculum integration, project-based learning, the role of curriculum in experiential education, and curriculum applications to a variety of educational settings. Taken in conjunction with Teaching and Learning II, the course gives students an opportunity to design a curriculum unit in an area of their interest and for a setting of their choosing.
Reflective Practice I (EDU 546) 1 credit
The first in a series of classes that engage students in reflecting on their developing practice as educators, this course gives an introduction to individual and collaborative reflective practices. Students will learn to get the most out of mentoring relationships, practice techniques for observing teaching and learning and develop shared language for discussing those experiences.
Reflective Practice II (EDU 547) 1 credit
MAEd only. Students form a professional learning community and engage in structured, professional conversations about their teaching practice. We participate in a variety of “protocols” designed to spur reflection on teaching through careful focus on student work, enduring dilemmas, and samples of teacher-generated materials. Students continue to articulate their ongoing goals for development as an educator.
Reflective Practice III/IV (EDU 548/549) 1 credit each
MAEd only. Building on the reflective tools of Reflective Practice I and II, in the second year of the program MAEd students learn and utilize the skills of practitioner inquiry to study and learn from their own professional practice. Students also develop their own pedagogic creed and create a teaching portfolio to demonstrate their own best practices in education.
Philosophy of Education (EDU 520) 3 credits
How can Jewish education lead to a thriving Jewish life? In this course, students encounter a variety of visions of the possible in Jewish and general education, through text, multimedia and a site visit to a renowned vision-driven school. Utilizing the philosophical rationales for divergent approaches to teaching and learning as well as the broader purposes of Jewish education, students learn the language and tools to develop and advocate for their own vision for Jewish education.
Sociology of Education (EDU 510) 3 credits
“Community” is the theme of our study together. We will begin by experiencing educational strategies designed to create a sense of community in the classroom - the smallest, and one of the most important, communities that make up the broader phenomenon of “community.” We will look at the development of the American Jewish community in the twentieth century and how the institutions of Jewish education we know today evolved. We will learn about successful afternoon religious schools, day schools and family education and explore the growing field of experiential education, focusing on summer camps and Israel trips.
Educational Psychology (EDU 515) 3 credits
This course is an introduction to the field of Human Development focusing on major issues, theories and developmental benchmarks that impact learners from birth through adolescence and adulthood. Attention will be directed to the physical, cognitive, social/emotional and moral/spiritual development of students. There will be opportunities to examine how to incorporate insights and knowledge of human development when planning and working with individual learners and groups of Jewish learners including those at different ages and developmental stages. In addition students will be asked to reflect about their own experiences and how those experiences may impact their interactions and values as Jewish educators.
Educational Administration (EDU 554, EDU 564) Either/Or Educational Leadership (EDU 550, EDU 551) 3 credits
EDU 554: This course, first in a year-long sequence in the MAEd program, explores key leadership and organizational theories as they relate to Jewish educational institutions. Students consider practical applications vis-à-vis topics including faculty management and evaluation, lay-professional relations, vision and mission statements, budgeting and other important topics for leaders of Jewish institutions. This course trains students in the tools to implement the visions they develop in Philosophy of Education.
EDU 564: The second semester of the administration sequence covers job-search related issues, student management, parent relationships, marketing, fundraising, special programming and other important topics for leaders of Jewish institutions. Students continue to apply and learn from Bolman and Deal’s four “frameworks” and delve even more deeply into the remaining “key constituencies” of an educational administrator.
EDU 550 and 551: This sequence examines leadership and organizational theories as they apply to the leadership roles that teachers typically assume. Students study topics in philosophy of education to explore the importance of vision in educational institutions as well as the practical realm of implementation.
Practicum in Experiential Education elective (EDU 565) 3 credits
Among the many ways to learn, “experience” is by far the most powerful. “Jewish experiential education” can be the framework for the transformation of Jewish education in North America, particularly in the supplemental schools and so-called “informal” settings of summer camp, youth group and trips to Israel. We will ask “What is an experience?” “What are the principle components of an ‘effective,’ ‘memorable’ experience?” “What is the cognitive and affective ‘content’ of an experience?” What can educators learn about “experiential learning” from the analysis of “experiences” we have in our everyday lives, such as shopping, synagogue or church attendance, even a Dodgers game? How are these “experiences” organized, presented, marketed and analyzed for effectiveness? How do we talk about our personal experiences through the medium of storytelling?
The Art of Teaching elective (EDU 590) 3 credits
In this "Pedagogy Test Kitchen," guest teaching artists experiment with groundbreaking approaches to teaching through the arts. Students experience a variety of Judaic content through storytelling, movement, visual arts, creative writing, animation and more to explore what kinds of teaching and learning opportunities are possible when one utilizes the arts as pedagogical tools.
Teaching Jewish Holidays and Life Cycle (EDJ 570) 3 credits
Holidays and life cycle are perhaps the most-repeated content in Jewish education. This course provides a forum for educators to explore and develop new ways of teaching the holidays through artistic and creative interpretation and expression. Each week, classical and contemporary sources provide the raw material for a creative process guided by award-winning playwright and Jewish educator, Aaron Henne that models best practices in teaching through experience and creativity.
Approaching God and Prayer (EDJ 572) 3 credits
Who is God, where is God, how do Jews talk to God, and what if there is no God? This course prepares educators to think about leading conversations and responding to typical questions about the Divine in the lives of contemporary Jews of all kinds; provides an overview and deep dive into the meaning of prayer; and explores how to communicate and connect to ideas about God when learners are wondering, doubting or skeptical.
Teaching Jewish History and Israel (EDJ 574) 3 credits
The first module of the course prepares educators to teach about Jewish historical consciousness by delving into the key themes, patterns and events that have shaped the Jewish experience historically, focusing on the modern period. Students will examine what it means for Jews to “think historically,” integrating the study of Jewish history with exploring how to use historical texts and content in teaching.
The second module of the course is a journey through assumptions and ideologies about Israel. Informed by the latest research on Israel education (including that being conducted at AJU), the course is sensitive to and enriched by the pluralism of AJU’s student community. Through readings and carefully facilitated discussion, this course helps educators identify “the elephant in the room” and gain a vocabulary for engendering a nuanced understanding of Israel through multiple voices, multiple disciplines and multiple lenses.
Teaching the Bible: Chumash (EDJ 576) 3 credits
Students are introduced to a range of orientations to teaching the Bible. Most of the course is devoted to in-depth immersion in Biblical texts and commentaries, with an eye toward how to unlock the meanings and various interpretations of the text.
Teaching with Rabbinic Texts (EDJ 578) 3 credits
Rabbinic texts are the source material for many of the lessons and values Jewish educators aim to share. This course explores key Talmudic texts and midrashim which Jewish educators can use to unpack and explain Jewish values and their unique Jewish sources, such as resolving conflict, giving Tzedakah, and moral dilemmas. The course also explores key modes of interpretation through Midrash.
MAEd students produce a capstone project which demonstrates their deepening expertise in a particular area of education and makes an original contribution to theory and practice in Jewish education. The project may take numerous forms, including but not limited to a new program idea, a curriculum, a manual for professional practice, an academic thesis, or an original analysis or evaluation of existing educational practices. Many capstone projects become the basis for a publishable, usable tool in the field.
Students take two years of Hebrew language coursework or complete the most advanced level of Hebrew offered at AJU, whichever comes first.
Full-time students complete two years of teaching fieldwork and one year of administrative fieldwork. Fieldwork serves a laboratory for students to experiment with and practice the skills and models encountered in their coursework. Actual number of hours will vary for working professionals pursuing the degree. Students may choose from a wide array of fieldwork opportunities, in consultation with the fieldwork coordinator. (Specific guidelines for fieldwork requirements are published in the academic catalog.)