By Tzvi Pittinsky
I first attended the International Society for Technology in Education Conference (better known as ISTE) in Philadelphia in 2011 as a part of a cohort from the Avi Chai Foundation. The conference with over 15,000 educators all dedicated to meaningful integration of technology into their classrooms was overwhelming – but in a good way.
One of my highlights was my ability to interact, reflect, and network with a smaller group of Jewish educators at what was then known as the Jewish Educators Birds of a Feather, a meetup at the conference. Sharing with like-minded educators in Jewish day schools and supplementary schools allowed for the important process of translating and transforming the various tools, teaching strategies, and technology innovations from the conference to the unique environment in our Jewish schools.
As the years went on, I became more involved in this Birds of a Feather group, helping them form a wiki together with Caren Levine in 2012. Later when ISTE retired their “Birds of a Feather” format, I reached out to them to continue this important gathering at the conference. I left like the farmer who responded to Honi in the famous story about the carob tree, “Just as my ancestors planted for me, I too am planting for my descendants.” This group had such a formative effect on my growth in the world of Jewish EdTech and I wanted to ensure that this continued for others into the future. You can read my summary of last year’s Jewish Educators Network meetup here.