Kadima Mada has brought cutting edge educational technology to dozens of schools in Israel as well as training and material support for teachers and students.
But a little mentioned benefit of World ORT’s programmatic arm in Israel are the bonds being forged between participating schools as they adopt new pedagogic techniques.
Nowhere is this more evident than at the Moshinsky Seminar, an intensive two-day gathering for Innovation Leaders held recently in Tel Aviv. Innovation Leaders are the staff members at each school participating in Kadima Mada whose task it is to lead the implementation of new science and technology initiatives.
“It’s amazing what’s happened since last year’s Moshinsky Seminar,”? said Kadima Mada Pedagogical Manager Dr Osnat Dagan. “They are now a real working group.”? Looking over the themes of the past three Seminars one can see how needs and circumstances have evolved. Last year, the Seminar provided an intense introduction into the use of Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs), the central component of the “ﾘsmart classrooms’ whose use in Israel Kadima Mada is massively increasing in partnership with local municipalities, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Development of the Galilee and the Negev. The year before, the Seminar took a broader look at the technological innovations introduced by Kadima Mada in cooperation with Davidson institute in Weitzman Institute. This year, with the implementation of Kadima Mada well established, the Moshinsky Seminar looked at creative evaluation and leadership skills.
This year, Dr Dagan noticed that there was a “greater sense of cohesion between Innovation Leaders and also a stronger sense of alliance between Innovation Leaders and Kadima Mada”?. But in attaining the “e pluribus unum”? she describes significant challenges that have had to be overcome.
Few, if any, of the schools benefiting from Kadima Mada enjoyed significant collaboration before World ORT started to support them four years ago. Not only were they in different towns, governed by different municipalities, but they also served a wide range of populations “ﾓ Jewish, Christian and Muslim Arabs, Druze, religious and secular. The Innovation Leaders not only share this diversity but add to it their professional specialisations “ﾓ some dealing with younger children at junior high schools, others at senior high schools; some focusing on the sciences, others on the humanities and yet others teaching Jewish Studies.
But the shared experience of undergoing what has been described as a revolutionary transformation from under-resourced institutions to ones which boast some facilities which are better than those found in schools in the wealthier central region of Israel has brought them together.
“All of them work with us very closely and when one school needs help with something we can call on people at other schools to step in,”? Dr Dagan said. “For example, to help Shikma High School prepare for all the new technology they will be using from September, Sha’ar HaNegev High School sent its Innovation Leader, who is already well experienced in using it, to work with its teachers.”?
This chain reaction of one school, which has already built up experience using the new technology which World ORT provided, helping another to adapt to it as it is introduced promises an explosion of educational achievement.
World ORT Director General and CEO Robert Singer said Kadima Mada’s contribution to social harmony in Israel was no less welcome for it not being the primary objective of the programme.
“Earlier this year we also saw mayors and Government ministers with a range of political views united in support of the multi-million-dollar project, spearheaded by Kadima Mada, to bring “ﾘsmart classrooms’ to Israeli schools. Everyone benefits from a good education so our programmes provide something around which all Israelis can rally and build together a vision of the future. We don’t yet have the wolf lying down with the lamb but there can be no more satisfying spin-off than this,”? Mr Singer said.
All 32 Innovation Leaders attended this year’s Moshinsky Seminar, which makes up 22 of the 33 hours each year that they spend together discussing the Kadima Mada programme and learning new skills to help them in their implementation of the scheme.
One day featured lectures by Hebrew University’s Dr Rita Sever on creative methods of evaluation the outcomes of projects. Teachers are already aware of the importance of evaluation as well as standard evaluation techniques. Dr Sever, however, introduced them to ways of measuring the success or otherwise of projects of which they were not already aware.
“I showed them how you can introduce creativity in the proves of evaluation, in the construction of tools, the analysing of data and in the presentation of results,”? Dr Sever said. “This can make evaluation fun and engaging for all involved.”?
And the other day focused on leadership skills “ﾓ vitally important if they are to inspire their colleagues, some of whom may be intimidated by the new technology and resistant to the need to adapt to it.
“When you are in a leadership role you can feel isolated,”? Dr Dagan said. “So having good relationships between Innovation Leaders creates a support group. The Seminar provides a closed forum where they can talk freely with each other and raise any problems they may have.”?
Kadima Mada Executive Director Rony Kalinsky attended part of the Seminar.
“We appreciate the commitment shown by the Innovation Leaders who gave up two days of their summer vacation to be with us at the Seminar,”? Mr Kalinsky said. “This was the first Moshinsky Seminar which Kadima Mada organised completely on its own. Previous Seminars were organised by the Davidson Institute [of Science Education at the Weizmann Institute of Science] but we feel we know our group well enough now to be in a better position to choose the topics to be addressed and the lecturers to deliver them. It was an efficient and professional seminar and, from the feedback we’ve received, this was recognised by the participants.”?
Indeed, Hana Laytman, from the Western Valley High School in the Jezre’el Valley, said: “I like to aim high and with the tools I received here I can now deal with the difficulties that may arise.”?
And Anwar Seikh from Shibli said that the Seminar had given him greater understanding in the need to be a leader rather than to be led by others.