Hear from our students!
Introductions between new exchange teachers and their students
According to the recent State Comptroller’s report, 99% of Israeli students graduate without ever meeting someone from the other sector (Jewish or Arab) during their years of schooling. Since an integrated educational system is not attainable in Israel at this time, Givat Haviva has been working since 2014 on the integration of teachers across sectors, bringing Jewish teachers of spoken Hebrew into Arab schools.
The program has proven effective in reducing suspicion and bringing the beneficiaries closer, with a positive impact on their communities. This led to the recognition of Givat Haviva as a valuable partner by the Ministry of Education, resulting in the rollout of a Cross-Sector Teachers Exchange as a program with the potential (and the intent) to scale up integration within school faculties. The program aims to facilitate large-scale encounters between teachers and students in a familiar academic environment for a sufficient period to bring about a meaningful impact. The teachers and faculty are provided with support and training to guarantee a positive and effective semester.
The proposed program is a series of semester-long exchanges of teachers in pairs from Jewish and Arab schools. Schools will be paired based on proximity and parity to facilitate stronger connections between the schools, beyond the individual exchange teachers. The program will run for three years as a pilot with the Ministry before being scaled up and integrated into the educational system. In the first year, the mechanisms for implementation were created and honed on 14 pairs of teachers. In the second year, we plan to expand to 25 pairs.
In order to accommodate the language gap of the Jewish teachers, we will focus primarily on teachers of English, the Sciences, physical education, and the arts.
Each of the schools will provide a mentor host teacher to personally accompany the visiting exchange teacher, to create a smooth transition.
The visiting teachers doing the exchange, the designated mentor host teachers in the schools, the school leadership, and leading faculty members will all receive significant, targeted training. The students will also receive facilitated preparation and processing sessions.
The exchange combines the three approaches to conflict resolution and shared community building: contact theory, narrative and identity dialogue, and shared goals and interests. It accomplishes this by bringing people from the two societies together for an extended period of time on an almost daily basis for 3-4 months. It provides training that enables constructive narrative dialogue in a familiar and academic setting where teachers and students work together in pursuit of clearly defined objectives.
The beneficiaries of this program include the visiting teachers in the program, their mentor host teachers, the principals and faculty of participating schools, and of course these teachers’ students in high school and junior high school, in mixed regions and cities in Israel. A program operating through the public school system reaches all segments of the population regardless of socioeconomic status or political alignment.
Establishing the mechanisms for implementation together with the Ministry of Education (pairing 14 teachers, recruiting educators, and identifying mentor teachers)
Pedagogical development for exchange teachers, mentor teachers, and faculty members of participating schools
15-hour prep course for the exchange visiting teachers
15-hour prep courses for the 14 pairs of host and visiting exchange teachers
First student sessions, prep for setting expectations, and identifying and dismantling prejudices
A daylong seminar for the principal and head administrator from each of the schools to increase commitment and cooperation among the schools
30-hours of Shared Society courses for faculty members from all participating schools including conflict resolution, multicultural awareness, and mediation. In addition to building their capacity to support the students, this training will bring the teachers from the pairs together and strengthen the connection between the schools to encourage future joint initiatives
Followup student sessions to process the experience and lessons learned
Conference to present the program to a broader audience of educational leaders in preparation for recruitment for the second year
Ministry of Education Partnership
Ministry of Education incentives for a semester-long exchange between Jewish and Arab schools can attract large masses of schools and teachers outside the usual demographic that would naturally volunteer for such a program. Our eventual goal is to have at least two cross-sector teachers in each of the 5,000 schools in the country. This program introduces a lighter version than with a permanent teacher, but the large-scale nature of outreach means the program has the potential to reach every student in the Israeli educational system with governmental institutionalization.
The Ministry will continue to be responsible for the teachers’ salaries, support professional development, and provide incentives for schools’ participation and continuation in the program. The anticipated parallel investment, primarily in teaching hours, is estimated at $1,694,000 leveraged during the first year, increasing to $19 million over the planned three years. Partnership with the Ministry of Education is a vehicle for policy change to increase school faculty integration and can be expected to continue and expand after the initial three-year rollout.
Cross-sector Teachers exchange
Creating conections through learning