Alternative Breaks (ABs) continue to be popular on college campuses and Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life works with campuses across North America to support ABs that incorporate Jewish service-learning. A key component of Hillel’s support is the trainings it provides to Hillel professionals leading Alternative Breaks.
Alternative Break training takes place online in real time, utilizing Webex, Hillel’s choice for webinar hosting, and leverages all of Webex’s interactive tools. There are four sessions in total, each provided at a “101” and “201” experience level. Hillel professionals are asked to commit to the same day/time each week to help create a comfortable group dynamic for learning.
Hillel Professionals’ roles on Alternative Break
Hillel professionals have four main roles on Alternative Break:
- Building relationships with students that help lead to a student’s increased Jewish journey and growth.
- Facilitating discussions with students, informally and/or formally, that lead to a deeper understanding of societal issues, and explore the intersection of Jewish tradition and social justice, constantly striving to make it relevant to students.
- Build the foundation for follow-through to help students move towards becoming more active citizens in the world inspired by their Judaism.
- Lead, facilitate and manage group dynamics to ensure a positive environment that leads to increased learning and positive experience by the entire group
Alternative Break Training Guiding Philosophy
Tzedek Hillel developed its training based on the following premises:
- Outcome based planning – Providing multiple opportunities for Hillel professionals to define their outcomes and think critically what they need to do to reach their outcomes
- Personal connection to Tzedek – Engaging in discussion with their peers about Tzedek, social justice issues, and how to have similar conversations with students.
- Basic skills – Providing basic level skills for the four major Hillel professional roles, and sharing best practices (top down and organically in the group).
- Ensuring ample opportunity for small group discussion.
- Paring down the content and focusing on understanding and engaging with the subject matter to make it tangible and relevant to one’s own experience.
Alternative Break Training outcomes
The following overview reflects the specific outcomes Tzedek Hillel set for Alternative Break Training series for Hillel professionals leading all Alternative Breaks. For more experienced professionals, the outcomes are conceptually the same with some slight variations, but the approach to the training is different, reflecting their deeper understanding of staffing an Alternative Break experience.
These outcomes are created on two levels – the outcome for the Hillel professional, and the directly related outcome for the student. This outcome model ensures Hillel professionals think about the training and skills development from the student outcome perspective.
Session #1 – Alternative Break – Goals, Hillel, Me
- Personal connection to Tzedek.
- Student Outcome: Student has a role model to guide them in a Tzedek journey.
- Alternative Break as a primary engagement tool.
- Student Outcome: Diverse group of participants.
- Understanding of Hillel’s educational methodology and how it connects to Alternative Break.
- Student Outcome: Students will have quality experiences on AB in all four “bubbles” (positive Jewish memory, Jewish self-confidence, Jewish knowledge, peoplehood and community).
Session #2 – Tzedek (click here for the full training module for this session)
- Understanding that Jewish service is about others and exploring inequalities, not just personal satisfaction.
- Student Outcome: Alternative Break experience leads to learning about the other, not just personal satisfaction.
- Learning how to have difficult conversations that lead to productive discomfort.
- Student Outcome: Begin to explore concept of systemic structures that lead to social injustice.
Session #3 – Follow-Through
- Creating specific outcomes for Alternative Break and understanding these outcomes also apply to follow-through. Clearly articulate outcomes help lead to successful and focused follow-through with students.
- Student Outcome: Students feel inspired and connected to an overall idea that is relevant to them.
- Alternative Break is an ongoing experience and a foundational piece of relationship building for an individual’s Jewish journey.
- Student Outcome: Build connection to a peer engager or Hillel professional and see that person as a resource for continued Jewish connections and exploration.
- Concrete ideas of how to implement follow-through (steps to take before, during and after).
- Student Outcome: Students feel like staff are helpful in their journey.
Session #4 – Developing a group (click here for the full training module for this session)
- Staff plays an integral role in facilitating positive group dynamics.
- Student Outcome: The group itself adds to the student experience because they can learn from each other.
- Skills to deal with different group dynamics/students/situations.
- Student Outcome: Group has minimal adverse affects on experience.
- Staff have knowledge of basic skills of group leading.
- Student Outcome: Feel supported and confident of the group itself.