Dec 21, 2020
Sandra Chiritescu, our newest pedagogy editor, introduces herself and describes her priorities for the section.
I began my role as the new pedagogy editor at In geveb this fall, and in advance of our winter publishing break I am using the opportunity to introduce myself and also to share with readers some areas I plan to focus on in the coming months. As pedagogy editor I plan to publish material that will strengthen, diversify, and challenge your classroom practices. I come to this role as someone with experience teaching Yiddish language and literature in a college setting who has benefited both from general pedagogical training and the relatively recent (renewed) sprouting of Yiddish teachers’ seminars. I hope to facilitate the rethinking, adapting, and broadening of pedagogy for those who teach any and all facets of Yiddish language and culture.
Like many teachers and college instructors, I set out this September for a semester of Yiddish language instruction on Zoom instead of on campus. In addition to changing my usual mode of instruction, I also updated my teaching material and started using the Yiddish Book Center’s new textbook In Eynem. While the flurry of changes this year have presented countless challenges - pedagogical and otherwise - to teachers and students alike, they have also given us the chance to foster new virtual communities to support each other. One example of this is a Slack group where teachers using In Eynem can share resources, ask questions, and brainstorm pedagogical ideas together. I hope that In geveb’s Pedagogy section can, similarly, serve as a space where teachers, educators, and students can pose, ponder, and tentatively answer questions in a supportive environment.
Over the last years, our pedagogy section at In geveb has branched out beyond the teaching of Yiddish language to cover the pedagogy of literature and history courses using Yiddish sources. We have also strived to serve and include teachers outside of traditional college classrooms — for example, those working in K-12 environments, in informal environments, and with adult learners.
I will continue this direction in addition to tackling a few new projects. In order for the pedagogy section to thrive, I rely on your contributions. I’d be particularly happy to see submissions on the following themes:
- New Uses for Older Resources: Send in your submissions that introduce and contextualize historical pedagogical materials with an eye towards their use in the contemporary language/culture class room, either as a personal reflective essay, lesson plan, worksheet, or teaching guide. I would also be excited to hear about historical resources that could help teachers refine their own language skills.
- Teaching Guides to Digital Collections and Projects: If you teach using digital collections and projects, consider writing up your work and sending it in to share with other instructors. I will be compiling teaching guides, lesson plans, and worksheets for digital collections and projects such as the Blavatnik Online Archive, the YIVO Online Museum, the International Workers Order (IWO) and Jewish People’s Fraternal Order (JPFO) Digital Collection at Cornell and more. While these resources are particularly useful for teaching during a pandemic, they will absolutely continue to serve teachers in the future as well.
- Critical Theory and Yiddish: I am interested in hearing from educators teaching at the intersection of contemporary theory frameworks and Yiddish. I welcome materials that show how we can engage with Yiddish literature and culture through crip theory, trans and queer theory, critical race theory, animal studies, sound studies and more.
- Pedagogy Polls: I will continue our Loyt di Lerers and Loyt di Studentn series, and I would love to hear what questions you have been pondering. Some questions I have are: How are Yiddish students using social media for language study and community building? When and how does Hasidic culture (contemporary and historical) figure in Yiddish classes? What non-fiction Yiddish texts are taught in what courses/disciplines, and how do instructors introduce and contextualize these works? How are Yiddish teachers maintaining/improving their own Yiddish fluency? I invite you to share your thoughts about further questions we should ask, who we should pose them to, and what kinds of responses would be useful to you. If you are interested in conducting a poll for us, send me your pitches.
I hope to foster a network of exchange between educators, to make the teaching of Yiddish language and culture at all levels accessible to all, including those who may not know where to start. I’m also excited to make visible the pedagogical work that so often remains undervalued and is performed disproportionately by graduate students, contingent faculty, and other precarious laborers. I want to know more about who you are, why you are reading In geveb and what you hope to gain from it, what resources you feel you need more of in order to do your best and most innovative teaching, what you are proud of and want to share. Feel free to browse the section, send me pitches, half-baked ideas, worksheets, questions, memes, and other thoughts. Write to me at [email protected].