Online Learning Post-COVID

by Sam Spinrad, Education Director

Looking ahead to 2021, like most people I anticipate the reopening of schools, businesses, and life as we knew it. As the education director at Congregation Bet Ha’am, reopening the religious school will be a major milestone that I’ve been looking forward to for nine months. Much has changed during the time that we’ve been stuck on Zoom. Which of these changes will we carry into religious school, post COVID-19?

Our in-person meetings are the base of our community relationships: praying together at children’s services, eating dinner together in the evening school, spending the night together at Shabbaton, and traveling together on multi-day trips to far-off Jewish communities, to name a few examples. These will resume, but with more than just an appreciation for togetherness.

Our teachers are now more capable of holding virtual sessions with guest speakers, peers, and tour guides. We can virtually meet presenters to preview the appropriateness of their content. The youth group can continue its evenings of online gaming and can now communicate with other youth groups online. Tour guides have developed new programs to make far-off Jewish sites more accessible to us worldwide. We can hold virtual class reunions any time during the year.

Certain virtual programs work well for families’ convenience. While academic programs like B’ Mitzvah tutoring make sense to do in-person, we have more resources for quick check-ins, assessments, and remedial programs. I’m happy that families who travel so far through snow and ice will have better access to live sessions and recordings, as needed.

In our widespread community, I’m excited to develop programming that will put us in demand for Jewish families nation-wide. It was exciting to have families join us from three states in a recent Zoom session. With teachers instructing from out-of-state homes and on long-distance trips, our ability to reach people has expanded immensely. It will be exciting to continue touching lives outside of the Portland area.

Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

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