A Jewish Teacher Education Community - The International Channel to the Jewish World
The MOFET Institute, a unique institution not only in Israel but also in the world, strives to meet the professional needs of the teacher educators in the colleges of education. Teacher educators from a range of colleges, from all fields and disciplines, and from all sectors of the country's population meet at MOFET. The corpus of knowledge of the teacher education profession is consolidated at MOFET, and tools are created there for the use of the teacher educators. The teacher education population that participates in the activities at MOFET specializes in building and promoting teacher education systems and processes for various subjects and positions.
The guiding precept upon which the establishment of MOFET JTEC was based was the creation of an educational community of Jewish teacher educators throughout the world. This community will also operate as a part of a global community of teacher educators and educators, to which end the general international channel, MOFET ITEC (International Teacher Educators' Community), was created.
MOFET JTEC will serve as a means of creating closer and deeper ties between the various Jewish communities in the Diaspora and the State of Israel. It will help cope with problems of Jewish education in the Diaspora and with determining Israel's place in the Jewish education of the next generation.
The MOFET Institute is an intercollegiate organization in the field of teacher education, and it has at its disposal a variety of infrastructures that include professional personnel who are well versed in the fields of education, Judaism, Hebrew language teaching and the history of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. A communication center and a pedagogic information center as well as organizational infrastructures (most of them online) enable MOFET JTEC to be operated. These infrastructures provide a response to the range of languages used in the Jewish world.
The Jewish community of teacher educators will deal with shared topics and problems that are unique to Jewish education and to teacher education in the various communities. In the community framework, knowledge, programs and processes will be shared, and projects that are necessary for Jewish and teacher education will be initiated. The framework will facilitate a constant link – both virtual and face to face – for discussion, studies, writing programs and so on, among Jewish educators (on a personal basis) and Jewish educational institutions (on a system-wide basis) alike.
The steering committee, whose members are experts and active both within the teacher education system and outside of it, has mobilized in order to assist in the planning, accompaniment and implementation of the activity.
The formulation of the concept of the activity, the creation of the programs and the tools and the nature of the team will enable MOFET JTEC to be activated to an increasing extent over the coming years.
Central paths of action
- An online work environment for teacher educators and teachers in the Jewish world that includes
- A content portal and a periodic newsletter;
- A virtual academy for Jewish subjects;
- Online discussion forums – virtual discussion platforms for discussing central issues in the field;
- Virtual activities and events – study days, academic conferences, encounters, lecture series.
- An environment for face-to-face activity that includes:
- Conferences on topics concerning the Jewish world, with the emphasis on training teacher educators and teachers in Israel and the Diaspora;
- Seminars in Israel for teacher educators and teachers (on topics of education and teaching) and for representatives of small communities abroad (on topics of formal and informal education, which affect the life of the community). Continuing accompaniment programs and/or virtual programs are also offered in the countries of origin;
- A multi-campus college for Jewish youngsters – a group of Jewish students are studying in the colleges of education as part of the curriculum in their mother countries (inclusion in the "Masa" project).
- Research and evaluation track that includes:
- Research on planning and developing programs for education and teacher education in the Jewish world;
- The accompaniment of research and the evaluation of existing programs.
- The "Semel" project – Beginning Teachers
The inclusion of novice teachers in Diaspora teachers' rooms.
- The "Selah" project – Students for immigrant children
Support and mentoring for immigrant children by students from the colleges of education.
Details of the activities in the various paths
- An online work environment for teacher educators and teachers in the Jewish world
The virtual environment on the topic of Jewish education permits the establishment of online ties between teacher educators and Jewish teachers in various institutions in the world; it affords the exchange of knowledge; cooperation in developing programs and in research; discussions on the needs of education, teacher education and the training of teacher educators in the Jewish world; the creation of a knowledge base (contents, programs and experts' lists) on the topic of Jewish education; the teaching of Hebrew subjects and the development of a culture of pedagogical knowledge on the topic of the Jewish people. Initially, the virtual environment will be activated in English, and subsequently also in other languages such as Russian, German, Spanish, and so on.
The virtual environment operates:
- A content portal and a periodic newsletter
The International Jewish Content Portal contains research studies, articles and up-todate material on Jewish education. It contains relevant knowledge bases and information about conferences, events and Jewish organizations all over the world. The content portal is updated on a regular basis (http://jtec.macam.ac.il/portal).The information bulletin appears once every two months and collates the information on the activity in the project.
- A virtual academy for Jewish subjects
The virtual environment contains a virtual school where courses are given via distance teaching on topics that suit the educators and teachers from the Jewish world and the people who are active in the various communities.
The courses are offered on various levels, in various languages and on topics that are essential to the Jewish world – for instance, Hebrew teaching, Jewish identity, Holocaust commemoration, Jewish thought, and the teaching of the Jewish subjects.
In every course, three aspects are stressed: (1) the subject matter; (2) didactics for teachers – how to teach the content; (3) didactics for teacher educators – how to train teachers to teach the material.
The learning occurs by means of platforms that permit synchronous and asynchronous teaching, and every course has an accompanying website where the participants can receive and submit assignments, receive learning materials, and run a discussion forum. All of the courses constitute a pedagogical knowledge base dedicated to Jewish education in the world and available to anyone who is interested. Course graduates receive a certificate attesting to the completion of studies. The operation of the virtual school is multi-stage, with a repetition of existing courses in each level and the addition of new courses.
- Online discussion forums
The forums serve as discussion frameworks for holders of similar positions in the community, in education and in teacher education in the Jewish world. The participants use the forums to clarify common problems, present programs and projects, and formulate ways and actions for promoting topics in their job fields.
Each forum has a central topic (for instance: training teachers to teach the Jewish subjects; Jewish assimilation – ways of coping; Holocaust commemoration – ways of coping; Hebrew language teaching – problems and methods) and is moderated by a coordinator who is an expert in the field. Forum topics are determined according to the recommendations of the steering committee as well as public demand.
The forum program is multi-stage, with each stage continuing the development and operation of the existing forums and initiating the operation of new forums.
- Virtual activities and events
The virtual conferences and events enable interpersonal and inter-institutional ties to be established for the exchange of information and for the creation of work relationships on topics that interest the relevant population. These events include lectures, study days, seminars and conferences on a range of topics concerning the Jewish world. They are moderated by the top lecturers and experts.
- Environment for face-to-face activity
The activities in this environment permit the establishment of interpersonal and interinstitutional ties that constitute platforms for the exchange of information and knowledge and for shared activities.
The environment includes:
- Conferences on topics concerning the Jewish world
The conferences are intended for leaders, principals, teachers, educators and people who are active in the community
- Seminars in Israel for teacher educators, teachers and representatives of small communities
Hundreds of thousands of Jews are scattered in small communities the world over, in small and medium-size towns that do not enjoy any of the enrichment activities in the fields of Judaism and Israel that are offered by the Israelis who are involved in informal education in the Diaspora. The reinforcement of these communities and their connection with Israel is a necessary process, and the activities planned for the purpose of meeting this need include:
- Seminars and courses in Israel;
- In-service courses and support abroad;
- Virtual courses and in-service courses based on distance learning technologies.
- A multi-campus college for Jewish youngsters
This activity will be included in the "Masa" national project, which is a joint enterprise of the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency. In the framework of the existing national project, Jewish youngsters in their twenties come to Israel for a period of between one semester and a full academic year. During this time, they participate in study and volunteer programs in the spirit of Jewish education.
In this activity groups of Jewish students from abroad come to Israel as part of the academic curriculum in their countries, and study in colleges of education for 6-12 months. Their studies take place in two tracks: (1) Jewish studies that include Hebrew studies, Zionism, Jewish music and art, and Jewish thought; (2) general studies consisting of selected courses (from among the courses taught at the colleges). According to a credit agreement with the institutions in which they study in their countries, the studies in Israel are recognized as part of their studies toward their degree or teaching certificate.
- A research and evaluation track
The research will be performed by The MOFET Institute's Research Authority, which will recruit the best researchers in Israel and worldwide. The research will focus on evaluating the actions and programs in Jewish education and teacher education in the world as well as the projects that are carried out in various places. It will also focus on the examination of problems and processes in the Jewish world and on providing a research basis for the types of activity required for promoting this education.
The research will be performed in response to the requests of various bodies or at the initiative of the program's steering committee.
Research reports will be submitted to the commissioning bodies, or will be made available to the public, according to the subject matter and in accordance with the agreement with the commissioning body.
- The "Semel" project – Beginning Teachers
In his/her first year of teaching, every teacher has to undergo an induction process in order to receive a teacher's license. The graduates of the teacher education institutions seek places to fulfill this obligation.
The "Semel" project proposes recruiting inductees who will spend their induction year in the framework of the formal education system (schools and kindergartens) in Jewish communities in the Diaspora. These young teachers from Israel can provide a tremendous impetus for advancing Jewish education, for developing the Jewish identity of the abovementioned communities, and for strengthening the ties between them and Israel.
- The "Selah" project – Students for Immigrant Children
The project is based on the realization that immigrant children encounter absorption and adaptation problems that are unique to them, and particular attention must be paid to this fact. The project offers the personal accompaniment of every child by a mentor who has been trained for this job.
The essence of mentoring is the establishment of a personal relationship between the student and the child and of a framework of informal education by means of individual meetings at the child's home and in places that provide enrichment such as libraries, museums, and so on. The main objective, however, is to assist the child with his studies and his absorption into the society of his peers. Students who participate in this project are eligible for a partial scholarship.
The model of the action in the program is similar to the one that exists in the "Perach" project (where a student mentors a child), with the inclusion of unique elements that are required for this particular population of children – for instance, the trend of employing students from the colleges of education who are former immigrants and matching them to children according to country of origin. This trend aims to give the child a feeling of confidence and provide him with a model of successful absorption. Moreover, since the domains of the program also include the child's family, the scholarship awarded to the student mentors will be increased accordingly. The project includes special training for the mentors so as to enable them to mentor the population of mentees according to age, country of origin and needs.