Makom Community: A Lab School

Makom Community: A Lab School

Welcome to 5784/2023-2024 Jewish Enrichment year at Makom Community! We are so excited to welcome your whole family back to our Sansom Street Lab School and to our community! For those of you who read our writing with a fine tooth comb, you may have noticed we have been referring to our Jewish Enrichment program as a Lab School. For those of you who are more skimmers (I am one of those), I wanted to take the time before we officially jump into another year of learning and community together to share about what Makom Community being a Lab School means.

As a parent, Makom gives my children the gift of being builders of community, even at 8 and 5 years old. Makom provides my family with a joyful, radically inclusive community where I am thrilled my children have many safe and loving adults who are there for them! Being intentional learners, builders of community, and collaborative problem solvers means that kiddos are part of large and small experiments every day. They are experimenting on how to apply their learning to relationships, to ask for help, and to assess what is working or not. This is also how we help kids to see themselves as interpreters of Torah, linking us to the past and building the future we want to see. Each of us is a part of the progress of Jewish tradition and wisdom. 

Growing up in our Lab School focuses this gift on intentional experiments.

This year, we have added an Educator & Researcher role to our team, Olivia Hacker-Keating. (Olivia is entering her third year as an educator at Makom Community and we are so thrilled she is in this position!) With the addition of this role, we are engaging in serious, regular, action research. A significant piece of what drew us to action research is coming to understand ourselves as practitioner-researchers. In many spaces of research there is one group that does research and another group that implements the findings. At our Lab School, Olivia will work closely with Gaby Marantz (Assistant Director of Teacher Education), Amanda Hollander (Director of Teaching and Learning), and me (Executive Director and Founder) to look closely at what makes Jewish Placemaking, our unique pedagogy, such a force for creating meaningful and durable experiences of Jewish Education. 

Your learners also get to play a significant role in how we develop these strategies. Ultimately, you can expect that this attention to reflection will become part of their classroom practice, too. Learners might give feedback by filling out (in written or drawn form) an end of day reflection that tells us about how a particular experience or strategy worked for them. Or they might deposit a marble into a jar that matches how they felt about the learning that day. I don’t expect that this will feel significantly different to our learners from previous years at Makom since they have always engaged in regular feedback and reflection processes with our educators. 

The action research process will follow this cycle:

Stage 1

  • Develop tools and interventions that will first be tested in our Shorashim (1st-2nd grade) classroom
  • Collect data on how they worked
  • Adjust the intervention based on feedback from that first round of implementation 

Stage 2 

  • Olivia and Gaby to teach that tool to the educators leading our other three classrooms 
  • The whole Lab School will implement that tool or intervention and collect data on how it worked
  • Adjust the intervention again as well as share what would have been helpful for them in learning to use that resource for Jewish Placemaking

Stage 3

  • Adjust both the intervention itself AND how we taught it
  • Offer it to our Makom Making partners, our branch of Makom Community where we enhance the field of Jewish Education across the country.

Our Makom Making partners are passionate Jewish educators who work at camps, congregations, and Jewish Day Schools who are exploring how to create a Jewish parenting community where learners are looking to deepen their educational community.  These educators bring best practices strategies of Makom Community into their spaces of learning to support their own unique visions for Jewish Education. 

If you have any initial advice, comments, concerns, or questions, please do not hesitate to reach out! I look forward to sharing with you mid-year how our research is going and what we have learned so far! Here’s to continuing to learn the Torah of our ancestors and the Torah of our children for years to come! Wishing you and your families a sweet and self-reflective new year. 



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