Annual Teachers Educational Conference goes virtual and exceeds expectations

Once again ATT adjusted its mirror, pivoted and surpassed the many challenges to hold its usual annual Teachers Conference Day (TCD) for 600+ teachers.

With Rabbi Avrohom Moller and Mrs. Chani Friedman at the helm and a dedicated committee of school representatives, this year’s virtual professional development exceeded everyone’s expectations. 

With 49 sessions and 41 noted international, national and local presenters, there was something for every interest and grade level, pre-nursery – high school, focusing on the current topics of today’s educational environment.

Chaya Shapiro’s presentation

The virtual conference removed several challenges, in-person social distancing and masking, the weather and parking. It proved to be the perfect vehicle for presenter-participant engagement and small group and large group discussion. Gauging from the feedback that ATT received (see testimonials below), the conference was a smashing success.

Participants were thrilled to stay home on what proved to be a Chicago winter storm, and gifts of hot cocoa bombs from the ATT were a welcome bonus.

Because the event was virtual, the ATT was able to draw from renowned leaders in general and Jewish education around the world.

Mrs. Suzy Koontz

ATT’s Teachers Conference Day is an opportunity for teachers to get a glimpse of new ideas and methodologies in teaching, both in Jewish and general studies. Teachers are also able to collaborate with colleagues from throughout the ATT system in the workshops and small teacher-facilitated discussions. While this program is just one of many professional development opportunities for educators that the ATT offers throughout the year, the sheer number of attendees and speakers makes it the most exciting. Chicago is the only city in North America with a system-wide umbrella organization like the ATT for all the local Jewish day schools, which makes this PD day an exciting program that is unique to our city.

Courses were on topics as diverse as the speakers and teachers themselves, including topics like:

Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, MEd
  • Emotional regulation and challenging behaviors
  • Central auditory processing disorders
  • Student engagement and motivation
  • Content specific skills and critical thinking
  • Technology tips and tools
  • Strategies for dealing with the effects of the pandemic
  • Kinesthetic strategies for literacy and math
  • Nurturing resilience in students
A session from Danielle Bloom, EdD

Speakers and partners had this to say:

Thank you so much for the opportunity to present to your teachers this morning. I have received so many lovely emails of thanks and appreciation from your teachers.
^ Suzy Koontz, Math and Movement, Movement and Literacy, New York

Many thanks for having me in your line up for speakers at this very professionally run teacher training course. I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly it all went, thank you.
^ Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, New York

Thank you very greatly for the honor of being part of this valuable and exemplary program.
^ Rabbi Dr. Dovid Fox, Los Angeles

I really enjoyed being a presenter and had a wonderful audience who was engaged, respectful and asked great questions. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of such a wonderful day.
^ Stephanie Dickstein, LCSW, Elizabeth Mayer School, School District 73.5

I want to thank you for the opportunity to teach this morning and to congratulate you on a very well-organized event. I hope you get great feedback on the entire day.
^ Nina J. Henry, LCPC, CADC, JCFS Chicago

Thank you for inviting me to speak at the educational conference today.  I enjoyed speaking to my group of teachers, and it was an honor to share and learn with them.  I hope the rest of the day was a success.
^ Melissa Fisanich | English Teacher
Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School – Annette M. & Theodore N. Lerner Family Upper School Campus

Thanks again for the opportunity, and for putting everything together for another successful ATT conference. Even the pandemic didn’t stop you guys!
^ Daniel Alkhovsky, Co-Director Walder Science

Thank you so much for the opportunity to present yesterday. Both my own session and the joint session I did with my brother were learning experiences for us.
^ Danielle Bloom, New Jersey

Rona Novick, PhD

Participants had this to say:

כל הכבוד  ! Wow- as someone who signed up and participated- the process was seamless. And the sessions were good and thought provoking. And imagine if we were not virtual and we would have had to go out in this weather ? HKBH takes care
^Arona Lichtman, Arie Crown Hebrew Day School

R’ Rietti was excellent! By far the best one I’ve been a part of in a while! (His sessions were) all very good. Thank you.
^ CR Feldman, Cheder Lubavitch Hebrew Day School

Every year I learn.  Every year I grow.  Every year I’m inspired. Every year I am very thankful.  This year was truly outstanding.  Every word and every moment was filled with knowledge, guidance, practical tools and inspiration! 
Surely every benefit to every student, every teacher and every school that will come from these classes is a zechus for all of you who made this learning possible.
^ Ronya Friedman, JDBY

Thank you for planning today!! It was really fun and useful. I liked all my presenters!
^ Marsha Arons, ICJA

Rabbi Zvi Grumet

The teachers here were Mrs. Levin, Mrs. Chaya Eichenstein, Mrs Faith Neuman, Mrs Devorah Goldstein, Mrs PIller and Mrs Mannes and myself.  We all watched the same sessions together– Mrs Hebel, Rabbi Raizman and Rabbi Rietti. We had positive feedback even from some of our most critical teachers!  Thank you very much for a robust, well run program.
^ Sara Neuman, BYHS

The session with Rabbi Rietti was absolutely amazing! Thank you. 
^ Sara Atlas, JDBY

Thank you so much! Everything was so organized. BH there was a lot to learn. All my presenters were excellent!!
The best part was the Bracha of not having to leave our houses today. Chasdei Hashem!!!
^ Sarah Leah Grinblatt, Arie Crown

I stayed by R Jonathon Rietti for all three sessions because I was so enamored with his discussions.
^ Rivkie Levitin, JDBY

I’m not a “tech” person – at all. You couldn’t have made the registration process more clear & more easy to follow. Also, I could have listened to Rabbi Rietti all day long! Not only was his content so educational & well-organized, but R. Rietti’s whole demeanor made his presentation most enjoyable.
^ Ahuvah Klein, Arie Crown

I really enjoyed the sessions that I attended today. Although hopefully next year we will be back to normal, I hope that we can still consider presentations on Zoom. For next year perhaps we can find someone who can discuss teaching Hebrew.
^ Shelley Stopek, ICJA

Thank you for all your hard work!  All three sessions were excellent and practical! 
^ Rusie Cziment, Arie Crown

Thank YOU! I just wanted to thank you for an amazing ATT teachers day. I enjoyed all the sessions and gained a lot both practically and spiritually.
^ Susie Rosen, Arie Crown

This was a great format for me personally.  I really enjoyed all the sessions!  The hot cocoa bomb was an added plus!! This took a lot of work to make it happen!
^ Yosepha Krohn, JDBY, BYHS

Mr. Alkhovsky’s math session was great!  I gave him Excellent in all categories and then wrote this.  “He shared research and then let us experience it for ourselves.  The games were great as is, but also have the ability to adapt to our students needs.  LOVED IT!”
^ Stephanie Pederson, ICJA

Rabbi Binyomin Segal

I have not heard systematic feedback from faculty yet, but the 2 sessions I went to (Danielle Bloom and Shani Taragin) were outstanding. Shani generously stayed around and answered questions through most of session 3. Both sessions pertained to ongoing work and discussions our Tanach department is having.
^ Dr. Jeremy Kahan, ICJA

I don’t know about anyone else but I enjoyed my presenters this morning.
^ Hedy Wechsler, JDBY

Today was an amazing ATT Teacher Conference Day. More than 600 day school teachers were in attendance! Of course, unlike other years, these presentations took place over zoom, but the content and the breadth of topics were fantastic.
^ Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Dean, ICJA

First of all, thank you for all your work to make today’s classes as successful as possible. I very much enjoyed both classes. I am hearing from other Rebbeim that Rabbi Rietti’s class was amazing.
^ Rabbi Avrohom Landsman, Yeshivas Tiferes Tzvi

I really enjoyed all the sessions I was in. 
^ Meira Schur, Arie Crown

I cannot adequately express my gratitude for YOUR incredible labor of love in doing EVERYTHING to make yesterday the successful conference day that it was! It was an honor to be on the committee and to moderate. The classes that I attended were well presented and meaningful. I am sure that the entire menu of classes that you put together were all equally so.
^ Chaya Minkus, Arie Crown

I wanted to share with you how much we appreciated the ATT in-service day, especially Rabbi J. Rietti’s speeches.  I attended his first session, along with a number of moros/teachers who were attending the classes in the JDBY building.  His presentation was so engaging and his content was extremely relevant.  The feedback from the teachers post-session was incredibly positive and many of the teachers who had signed up for other classes for sessions two and three, decided to attend Rabbi Rietti’s sessions instead.  Throughout his presentation there was silence in the room, with all teachers riveted to his every word.  At the end of each session, there was overwhelming positive feedback! I noticed that he gave many teaching strategies, but also put a big focus on how we, as adults, can be resilient and not get lost in anxiety during these trying times.  This is EXACTLY what our teachers needed to hear!  We are finding that many teachers are currently dealing with so much in their personal lives, that it can be hard for them to be emotionally present with their students.  I speak on behalf of many of the moros and teachers here in JDBY, telling you how phenomenal Rabbi Rietti’s speeches were, and how much they were appreciated.
^ Mrs. Breitman, JDBY

Thank you for a wonderful program and such a variety of workshops and lectures. Teachers felt they gained and learned. Also thanks for the attendance report.
^Tamar Friedman

Thank you for an outstanding conference day.  The variety of topics were excellent, touching upon such relevant and important topics with experienced and outstanding speakers.  It was difficult to choose just 3.  I look forward to the recordings to be able to access some more great classes.
Thank you as well for the attendance sheet.  All of my Limudei Kodesh teachers participated for all three courses and were actually looking forward to the classes they chose.  Many voiced difficulty in deciding which interesting course to take.  The attendance sheet will help me follow up on the classes they took. Thank you again.
^Leah Rivka

Thank you! I wanted to let you know, every teacher really enjoyed their sessions. The entire day was well organized and the speakers were fantastic!
^Shoshana Safirstein, Director of Early Childhood, ACHDS