First Steps toward the establishment of a binational Jewish Arab Teacher Training Program:

In-service training for first and second grade Jewish and Arab teachers from Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, Misgav and Jerusalem

By Ety Edlund  (September 1999)

In early summer, 1999, The Association for Bilingual Education in Israel proposed that the NSWAS Primary School would help organize and participate in a joint in-service training for teachers of three schools that currently offer binational education. These were teachers of the first and second grades from "The Galilee School" in Western Galilee (whose binational framework began with the establishment of a first-grade class in the 1998-99 school year); kindergarten and first grade level teachers of the Experimental School, Jerusalem (whose binational kindergarten framework will extend to first grade level in the 1999-2000 school year); and teachers of first and second grades in the Experimental School of Neve Shalom/ Wahat al-Salam (established in 1984). The in-service training took place in Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam over two full days on August 23-24 1999.

Description of the Training

During the first session, entitled "being a teacher in a bilingual school," each of the groups worked separately in accordance with the special needs of each school. This was followed by a session that permitted teachers of the three schools to compare their experiences, and share their dilemmas, doubts, hopes and expectations. The session was facilitated by Elias Zaidani, an organizational and educational consultant.

The final session of the day (facilitated by Ety Edlund of the NSWAS School) was a workshop on two subjects: approaches to the presentation of national symbols of the two peoples, and learning from success and failure in the everyday work of the school.

The second day opened with a presentation by a teacher of the Galilee School of the language-learning model in use there.

The second session dealt with the teaching of "The family and me" which has been adopted in Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam as a central topic in the first grade syllabus. The workshop was facilitated by Ety Edlund, while Yasmine Al-Kalaq, who taught the subject during the 1998-99 school year, shared from her experiences.

Next came a visit to the Language Center of the NSWAS School. The methods and various activities used there for teaching Hebrew and Arabic were demonstrated by Ety Edlund and Safia Sbeda.

The final workshop demonstrated how cultural similarities can help establish a common ground between the children despite their many cultural differences. Such similarities can be found in the two languages, as well as between family events, seasonal festivals, stories and foods. The workshop was facilitated by Ety Edlund.

The second day closed with a summary session facilitated by NS/WAS School directors Boaz Kitain and Diana Shalufi, together with Amin Halifa, co-director of the Association for Bilingual Education.

Points that emerged in the summary session

A wonderful atmosphere prevailed during the training. The teachers benefited by meeting others working in the same field, and came to feel less alone in this important work.

We were thrilled to see how binational education is growing and expanding to other communities.

There was a consensus among the participants that the training had contributed to their knowledge and been a great success. All felt a need to conduct future meetings.

The fact that the training was facilitated by teachers who are involved in the work itself, and who cope with the challenges of this kind of education on a daily basis, contributed to its success.

It is important (in future workshops) to give opportunities for more teachers to relate their experiences and successes.

It will be worthwhile to maintain an ongoing connection between the schools, in order to share methods and learn from each other. This should include the exchange of information and a sharing of syllabi that have been found useful in the schools, and visits by teachers to the other schools during school term.

We should prepare the ground for developing a training program for teachers who wish to work in bilingual education.

It was educative and important to see how the same needs could be addressed by different methods.

The trainings clarified for the new teachers many ideas that were unclear to them before.

The demonstrations of practical work (descriptions and ideas for work) were useful and important

There was a demand to focus in future trainings on the subject of Independence Day and national events, and the way these could be expressed in the work with the children.


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