Inspiring Our Teachers to Inspire Our Children
Inbal Cohen is a natural teacher. When she was growing up in Israel, she used to play teacher with her aunts and uncles. So after she moved to the United States and her husband encouraged her to follow her dreams, she became a preschool teacher.
Inbal is shaping the next generation and the future of the Jewish community at Gan Shalom Preschool in Berkeley. But — as any parent can attest — working with young children is no easy task.
To help give her innovative tools to better reach her students, Inbal attends professional development conferences, including Federation’s annual Early Childhood Education Conference. During this year’s conference, which focused on the arts as teaching tools, she participated in a shadow puppetry workshop run by Daniel Barash, a nationally recognized teaching artist.
“You could feel all the hard work and thought that was put into the conference,” she said. “It was teachable, hands-on, educational, very much enjoyable — and all embedded with Jewish values and ideas.”
Feeling inspired by her newfound knowledge, she got to work creating a new unit for her students. The following week, she enacted a Purim spiel and the “Sammy the Spider” Purim story using shadow puppets.
“Puppets are something familiar to them, but we tweaked the concept and opened up their imaginations,” Inbal says. “The kids were really able to stay present through the whole story, really be in the moment, and be engaged. It was magical.”
More than just being a creative outlet, arts offer real practical value to both teachers and students. It can reach kids with different learning styles, teach them how to work in groups, and come up with innovative solutions.
“I feel very blessed that we got this opportunity to learn new things and really be hands-on,” Inbal concludes. “It really was a great learning day that will ultimately benefit our kids.”
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