Training teachers in new methods of education


World ORT has taken another step on the road of helping to restore Israel’s education system to its former glory.

Its operational arm in the Jewish State, Kadima Mada, has joined forces with specialists at the NCJW Research Institute for Innovation in Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to design and deliver an on-line course to train English teachers how to adjust their pedagogical techniques in order to make full use of the Interactive Whiteboards (IWB) and associated equipment being installed in their schools.
“Without training, teachers will use the new equipment like glorified blackboards,”? said Hebrew University’s Professor Elite Olshtain. “The interactive perspective is complex, it’s not easy. Much more is required of a teacher to use an IWB effectively. She needs to plan her class much more effectively and integrate everything into an interesting and successful lesson. But it’s much more rewarding; done properly, it can really change things”ᆭ It will take a few years to reverse the decline in the education system but I think we’re on the right road.”?
Professor Olshtain headed the university’s team that collaborated with Kadima Mada staff members on developing the course, which is funded by the Clore Israel Foundation. The Foundation had previously worked with Professor Olshtain on a project equipping English language labs and training teachers in their use, in schools throughout the Western Galilee.
Called English on Board, the course is part of Kadima Mada’s pedagogic involvement in the mass introduction of “smart classes”? to Israel’s relatively under-resourced peripheral communities which the organisation is spearheading through the $25 million Schulich Canada Smart Classroom Initiative.
The Ministry of Education is due to provide training in the use of the IWBs but it will go school by school. The Kadima Mada course, by contrast, is designed to cut across schools and train teachers by subject “モ in the first instance English as a Foreign Language.
More than 50 English teachers are due to attend the opening, face-to-face session at three schools in Tirat HaCarmel and Sha’ar HaNegev, which have already taken place, and in Nahariya next week. But the rest of the 120-hour course, except the final session, will be conducted on-line with mentors providing theoretical and practical material and supervising the teachers’ discussions.
“The teachers are learning how to collaborate with pupils in class using the new technology,”? said one of the mentors, Lily Baram Kazado. “They take material we give them and adapt it to their classes. This way the teachers can share their classroom experiences and accumulate material they can use in the future.”?
Being on-line maximises participation as the participants do not have to take time out of their busy schedules to travel to sessions, it adds value to the provision of smart classes and demonstrates that Kadima Mada is more than just a provider of high-tech educational tools, said Kadima Mada Pedagogical Manager Dr Osnat Dagan, who was part of the teacher training development team.
“We want to add our experience to this pedagogical aspect of the implementation process,”? Dr Dagan said.
The course has been designed for English teachers in grades 7,8 and 9 but it can be easily adapted for teachers in primary school, too. And Kadima Mada is already working on similar courses for teachers of other subjects.
The Israeli education system has suffered a steep decline since its heyday in the 1960s when students came top of international rankings in maths and science. Low pay and poor working conditions “モ particularly a lack of resources and class sizes of 35-plus “モ have deterred many young graduates from seeking a teaching career. The average age of Israeli teachers is, therefore, relatively high, which can present obstacles to incorporating new technology into the classroom.
“The world has changed but classrooms look the same as when I was a child,”? Professor Olshtain said. “The smart classes require a different kind of teaching: if you use the technology correctly then you should have the whole world in the classroom and you can manage learning rather than just teach.”?