On the Journey—the first strand of a multi-year, comprehensive study of North American Jewish educators—explores the roles Jewish educators play across multiple settings, what motivates people to commit to this work, how they grow professionally, and in what ways their lived experiences shape their professional journeys and choices. Other briefs in our series delve deeply into key workplace conditions that impact Jewish educators across sectors: salary and benefits; professional development opportunities; and supports such as autonomy, collaboration, supervision, and mentoring. This first brief is a holistic exploration of Jewish educators’ professional lives, characterized by three “journeys” that many educators traverse during their careers: (1) Journeys Through Time—entering the field, becoming established, and advancing to higher roles; (2) Journeys In and Out—the “on-ramps” that bring people to the field from other professions and “off-ramps” that drive some to leave; and (3) The Inner Journey—how professional meaning and motivation develops and evolves.
In addition, this brief presents portraits of five individual educators, bringing to life how the personal and professional are woven together in their journeys. These are not meant to be “representative” portraits, as no five individuals could adequately represent the universe of Jewish educators. Rather, these portraits serve to highlight and contextualize many of the key themes explored in the On the Journey series.