Become a Teva Educator

We are now accepting applications for the Fall 2016 Teva Season.

Apply to Teva

 

As a Teva educator, you will have the opportunity to…

Explore the deep connections between ecology and Judaism.

Learn what Jewish tradition can teach us about how we relate to the Earth, and also how the natural world can enhance our connection to Jewish practice. Together we will discover the ecological wisdom inherent in Judaism through teaching, learning, and daily experience.

Learn—really learn—how to teach.

Our program supports the growth of our educators into confident teachers. You will be guided by a structured curriculum, weekly feedback and reflection, and training workshops in experiential education. At the same time, you will enjoy the flexibility to be creative and discover your strengths as you develop your unique teaching style. Alumni have said that they learned as much about teaching from their Teva experience than in their Masters programs in education.

Jumpstart a career in education.

For those interested, Teva provides an excellent springboard to a teaching career. Jewish day schools tell us that they love to hire Teva educators as teachers because they know they will be creative, dynamic, and engaging in the classroom. Several Teva alumni currently work in day school classrooms; others are doing innovative work in informal education as camp directors, religious school teachers, non-profit leaders, and rabbis.

Have fun.

We believe joy and fun are prerequisites for a sustainable world, and we strive to embody that on a daily basis. We make up songs, wear costumes, jump in lakes, and generally celebrate being alive. With our students and among ourselves, we are serious about having fun.

Live in a vibrant, pluralistic Jewish community.

Communal celebrations of Shabbat, holidays, and day-to-day life include uplifting singing, stimulating learning, and a diversity of Jewish practice at our home at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. Learn more about Isabella Freedman and its other programs

Form lasting relationships.

There’s no other way to describe it—the network of Teva staff from our 22-year history is one big family, which is part of the even bigger families of Isabella Freedman, Hazon, and the Jewish environmental movement. As our community has grown and spread across the world, it has kept its sense of shared values, celebration, and love. Oh, and more than a few marriages can trace their stories back to Teva as well…

Each fall, a team of 10-14 educators teaches in Teva’s flagship Shomrei Adamah program. Shomrei Adamah (Keepers of the Earth) is an immersive four-day experience for 5th and 6th grade students in Jewish day schools throughout the Northeast. The following sections detail what it means to work as a fall Teva educator.

 

Program

Limudei Chutz

Limudei chutz (outdoor learning) is the heart of the program. Over 14 hours each week are spent within these small learning groups of 10 – 13 students and 1 or 2 educators. Unlike many outdoor schools that consist of short, distinct lessons in specified topics, Teva’s schedule is built around long blocks (up to five hours) of open-ended outdoor exploration time. It is up to the educator to decide how to structure this time based on material they want to cover, the interests and mood of the kvutzah (group), the weather, and the countless surprises that pop up along the way.

Educators are responsible for all aspects of planning and running limudei chutz, and planning with a co-educator when applicable.  Extensive curriculum for limudei chutz is taught during the initial weeks of training, along with guidelines to help structure the time.  As the season progresses and educators get comfortable with the concepts and activities, they have the opportunity to get creative with their teaching themes and methodologies.

 

Chuggim

Educators are responsible for planning and running two chuggim (electives) each week. These program periods are less academic and display more hands-on activities that are skills- and craft-based.  Educators may draw from our large set of existing activities or develop their own. Examples include: fire building, paper making, eco-drama, recycled art, cheese making, astronomy, yoga.

One of the two chuggim is also a Beit Midrash (Jewish text study), where the activity is paired with relevant learning from Jewish tradition.

 

All-group programming

All-group times during the week include skits and theatrical presentations, large-scale games, and rocking song sessions. Educators have various roles in facilitating these programs; some will be leading from the front of the room (often in costume), while others are helping out in the crowd.

 

Meals

Educators must be at meals and will be asked to sit with students at some meals. One or two educators act as dining hall “MC”s by giving instructions, helping with blessings before and after the meal, and facilitating learning about food waste.

 

Shacharit

Educators participate in shacharit (morning prayer) services and add creative and educational elements to the service.

 

Download the Curricular Manual for an in-depth look at the Shomrei Adamah curriculum

 

Sound like a lot? Don’t worry, we extensively train and prepare our educators before they start teaching.

Training

The season begins with an intensive three-week training period where educators learn all of the curriculum and activities for the program. Training also includes: basics of group and behavior management, environmental education pedagogy, background in Jewish environmental thought, teaching practice, and much more. Like the program, training is largely experiential – we learn by doing. The initial training period also includes a staff camping trip for further learning and staff community building.

Training continues weekly on Sundays throughout the season. Often through a guest presenter, we dive deeper into topics of education, Jewish thought, and ecology. We are proud of this aspect of our program, since this enrichment gives our staff a variety of opportunities to improve their teaching and themselves.

Community and Living

Community

The complete staff team consists of the educators, director, program manager, and medic. As a staff we strive to practice what we preach; just as the ability to communicate and work as a team is an important pillar of our student curriculum, so too we emphasize communication, teamwork, and community among the staff.

Communal living is an enriching experience, and it is also demanding. Staff members attend weekly community meetings to discuss any issues that may arise and ensure open communication. We also gather for our own shacharit, where one staff member leads the community in sanctifying space and time together. The connections that are forged and renewed in these times are essential to the teamwork required to be successful in the work week.

 

Housing

The Teva staff lives communally in a winterized house on campus. There will typically be two staff per room. The house has a kosher kitchen, several bathrooms, a washing machine and dryer, and a beautiful view of the lake.

 

Food

During program times, all meals are eaten in the dining hall with students. On weekends, staple ingredients are provided to cook meals in the Teva staff house. All food is kosher and vegetarian, with vegan and gluten free offerings available. During some Shabbat and holiday events, Teva staff may also eat in the main dining hall with the retreat guests (and meat lovers have the chance to indulge).

To read more about the values and practices of our dining hall, see Adamah Foods

 

Shabbat and Holidays

Shabbat and holidays are generally days off, and these are wonderful times to be at Teva. We create home cooked meals, enjoy spiritual davening, and spend time relaxing. Some staff members use this time to leave the retreat center, while others take advantage of retreat center programming.

 

Pluralism

Teva welcomes staff with a wide range of Jewish observance and knowledge. Regardless of background, we believe that everyone has something to teach and something to learn. Each year’s staff deals with the delights and difficulties of creating a pluralistic Jewish environment. Like all aspects of community living, this process is both challenging and beautiful.

Weekly Schedule

Sundays

In general, a Teva work week begins on Sunday at 9:00AM. Half of the day is devoted to professional development (see “Training” above). The other half is preparing for the coming week through staff meeting, program prep, setup of the site, and personal lesson planning. After dinner, staff gather for the weekly community meeting.

 

Mondays–Thursdays

Monday mornings start with shacharit and any last-minute prep for the week. Students typically arrive around 10:30AM, and depart on Thursday by 2:00PM (see a sample program schedule). After students depart staff clean up the site, followed by a staff meeting to review and reflect on the week. Many staff also make time to jump in the lake after students leave. Work on Thursdays is done by 9:00PM, and the weekend begins.

 

Fridays and Saturdays

These are days off – we enjoy and get some rest!

 

Note: Due to holidays and other special events, there will be weeks that diverge from this routine. Upon hiring you will be given all of the exact dates and details.

 

 

All Teva educators must have prior experience and skill working with children. Strong background in either natural science or Judaism is preferred. Beyond this, we seek to create a diverse and well-balanced team with a wide range of skills and interests, including music, art, drama, wilderness skills, cooking, storytelling, fire eating…you name it.

It takes a certain kind of person to do well at Teva. We expect a lot from you. The program expects a lot from you. You expect a lot from you. The following are important qualities for a potential Teva educator:

  • You have a positive attitude, sense of humor, and willingness to go with the flow. This is essential! We need flexible people who can adapt in real time to changing circumstances. Frustrating situations will inevitably arise—a school’s request causes an unexpected change in your schedule, a co-worker didn’t set up the props they were supposed to, etc. You need to be able to deal with the issue, laugh it off, and move on. Those who tend to dwell on problems and feelings of resentment will have a hard time here.
  • You have a strong work ethic. We need people who can be both independent and team players. In some situations, you will have to recognize what needs to be done, step up, and do it. Other times, you will be asked to do things and expected to carry them out. Either way, your co-workers will be relying on you to do your part because if you don’t, they will have to do it for you.
  • You are ready to work really long days. The longest days may be 7:00AM to 10:00PM; even a shorter day is 8:30AM to 9:00PM. While every day there are slots of free time—chunks of 60-90 minutes—by the time you finish your cup of tea and do the preparations necessary for your next teaching slot, it may sometimes feel like there was no free time at all. On work days, the job is your life—so make sure it’s a life that you want!
  • You are looking for an immersive experience. Teva is not “just a job”—this is no 9-to-5. For five days a week (and more if you choose), you will eat, sleep, and breathe Teva.
  • You are excited to spend up to 14 hours per day with children.
  • You are willing to be playful, wacky, and uninhibited…at least a little bit.
  • You are interested in living and working in a communal Jewish environment.

 

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