About the Prize Winners: Mindy Hirsch

Meet Mindy Hirsch

Mindy Hirsch won The Kohelet Prize for Real-World Learning, as part of a team of six from the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital. Check out their winning entry, Election Project 2016: Kids’ Voices Count, here:

In your experience, what is the greatest challenge facing students/teachers today?

I think the biggest challenge facing students and teachers today is mindset.  Armed with a growth mindset both students and teachers can accomplish more then they think they are even capable of.  “I can’t do this” becomes “I can’t do this yet!”  Imagine the possibilities of achievement if we believed we could never fail.

In implementing your winning project in the classroom, was there a moment when you knew that you had hit upon something really powerful?  If so, describe that moment.

As part of our project a parent expert came in to talk to the third grade about public land usage. Students had strong opinions before the speaker but after they were able to argue both sides and see the issue from many angles. Opening students’ minds to differing opinions allowed them a new perspective.

What advice would you give teachers who want to attempt something new and different in their own classrooms?

Go for it! Planning is important but flexibility is more important. Take bumps in the road with a grain of salt. Push yourself and your students.  Most of all have fun.

What’s your favorite part of your teaching day and why?

My favorite part of the day is the morning.  I love waiting for students to arrive and greeting them each with a smile.  It is a great way to assess student moods and set each child up for a successful day.

How do you ensure that you’re always growing professionally?

I ensure my professional growth I make sure that I am always asking questions.  I inquire about topics of interest and end up on research journeys that have me articles deep into my area of study.  There are so many people I can learn from both inside and outside of my school.  I try to keep an open mind and stay present so that I can absorb as much information as possible.

If you had one piece of advice to share with a new teacher walking into his/her classroom for the first time…

It can get overwhelming.  Ask for help when you need it.  Talk to your co-workers and get a mentor.  It will be hard.  It is ok.  Each day holds new challenges, so take a deep breath, buckle up and hold on for a wild ride.

When I’m not in the classroom, I love to:

To travel and go camping.  This allows me to explore other areas of the country/world and learn different cultures and perspectives.  My teaching is so much richer when I speak from personal experience and knowledge.  I am able to raise students interest and excitement for a topic.