Joel Grishaver has been spending some time on the phone talking to educators who have adopted PrayerTech for their schools. His conversations centered on the ways they are teaching tefillah, and how PrayerTech fits into their model. He talked to William Hertzfeld, the Hebrew Help and Kesher Coordinator at Temple Shaarey Tefila in Bedford Corners, New York.
Our school centers on teaching Tefillah and we do it three ways. First we take all the prayers that are sung as songs (such as the V’Ahavta) and do them in an all-school service during the first fifteen minutes of school. Even kindergarten is involved and everyone learns them as songs long before reading them.
Second we have classes for chanted prayers, and they work the way any classroom does. We do these from printed sheets, we stay away from transliteration but we do translation to help students connect to frequently repeated words. These lead to word mastery.
Then we use PrayerTech as a non-school option. Students can choose between classes and coming into school, or they can use PrayerTech as an online choice as long as students check in with their educator and have a live ear-to-ear session once a week. We don’t rely on the e-mail component but prefer a real time connection with an educator once a week. We are finding that to be most successful. The only drawback is that we didn’t screen PrayerTech users and every now and then we have to counsel those who are not good independent learners back into class. And we find these to be somewhat successful.