By Joseph Tappenden
(AJNews) – Every year at the CJA, we aim to create meaningful learning experiences for our students while focusing on fostering a sense of community and strengthening our Jewish identity in a nurturing and supportive environment. We do not simply do this with our words but by ensuring that we take action, providing great experiences for our young people. This year, we have turned our focus to Midot, which we have adopted within our teaching practices.
What do we mean by Midot?
We choose to focus on Midot at the CJA as it is a Hebrew word that translates loosely as character development. As educators, we aim to not only teach knowledge but develop our young people into well-rounded individuals, and the concept of Midot can help with this. Midot allow us to foster a number of different traits in our students, allowing them to become the best version of themselves.
Which Midot are we deciding to focus on?
While there are many character traits to focus on, this year, we are working towards the following:
Courage – What it takes to stand up for what you believe in.
Gratitude – Showing thanks for everything we have.
Justice – Standing up for what is right.
Identity – Understanding who you are as a person.
Respect – Treating others the way you want to be treated.
Acts of Loving Kindness – Going above and beyond and being charitable.
Community – Encompassing all our Midot to grow and nurture our community.
How are we implementing Midot in our practice?
Within the school, every month, we choose a specific Midah to focus on, each tied to a different Jewish holiday celebrated throughout the school year. Every classroom is equipped with a visual reference, listing all the Midot, with a focus implementing each Midah into our lessons, teachings and conversations. This not only raises awareness of the specific focus but is a great example of how these skills can be discussed across a variety of subjects through interdisciplinary learning.
For example, last year when our grade 3 students had been focusing on the Midah of gratitude, they used their visual journals to briefly identify what they are grateful for. From there, in Language Arts class, students took their writing skills a bit further, translating their thoughts into finessed written pieces where they structured their work into formal paragraphs. To understand what they have to be thankful for, in Social Studies, students learned about developing countries and compared this to their own lives in Canada, giving them a wider view of the world and an deeper appreciation of what they have. These types of experiences help transform our students into global citizens with a deep commitment to community and social action.
Join us in focusing on Midot
Our school community is made up of more than just our students, with families and our faith also a central component. So why not join us in focusing on your own Midah.
For information about Calgary Jewish Academy visit cja.ca.
Joseph Tappenden is Director of Marketing / Advancement at Calgary Jewish Academy.