Over the past two years, the Covid-19 pandemic, together with political and social crises, have obliged principals and teachers to take the initiative and introduce far-reaching changes.
Beit Berl is spearheading a new model for translating innovative grassroots-level pedagogic ideas into academically acknowledged initiatives that can be implemented on a national level. The College is establishing two networks of schools that will partner with academia to facilitate cross-fertilization of ideas, pedagogies and methodologies – between the schools on the one hand, and the world of research and teacher training on the other.
In addition, following recent events, the College believes in the potential of cooperation among schools from different sectors. The networks will set themselves the goal of deepening the familiarity and affinity among the partner schools, as a basic condition for overcoming obstacles and creating trust and an ability to cooperate.
The 100 "Excel-erator schools" will serve as centers for pedagogic learning and sharing; facilitate learning between educational institutions; enrich the knowledge held by Beit Berl College regarding the training of the teachers of the future; and create a knowledge-rich field for specialization.
Through the Excel-erator network, innovative pedagogic approaches will be shared throughout the Israeli school system, and will influence teacher training. Beit Berl students will carry out their clinical training at participating schools, and partnerships of knowledge, pedagogy, entrepreneurship and innovation will be nurtured.
"We believe schools must start working together to share their experiences and knowledge. Our students will collaborate closely not only with their teacher-trainer but with the entire school," explains Dr. Chait Shaham, Head of Beit Berl's Teacher Training Dept. in the Faculty of Education. Each participating school will appoint a coordinator, who will be in close contact with the pedagogic counselor from Beit Berl. The process of sharing information within the network will promote dialogue and facilitate the implementation of new initiatives within schools.
The "Laboratory schools" network will generate evidence-based knowledge, enabling more powerful teacher self-evaluation that can then be shared and boost collaboration between academic researchers and educators in the field. The idea, initiated by Beit Berl President Prof. Yuli Tamir, is to create a network where participants learn from each other.
"Although there are many innovative pedagogic initiatives in individual schools, the knowledge often remains within those schools and lacks evidence. Schools generally don't know how to work with data and their innovations don't reach the Ministry of Education or academia, where we could learn from them," says Prof. Linor Hadar, Head of the Beit Berl College Lab Network.
So far, 12 schools have been selected to join the laboratory network based on specific initiatives they have developed. These schools include both traditional and non-traditional primary, secondary and special education schools, and represent diverse socio-economic sectors. Each school will be assigned an academic researcher from Beit Berl who will lead the research and validation process. There will be monthly network meetings attended by representatives of the schools and the Beit Berl team. Ultimately, the plan is to establish a website, in both English and Hebrew, that will serve as a valuable resource on innovative pedagogy to schools around the world.
These new initiatives will position Beit Berl College as a hub of creative educational activities; strengthen the connection between practical and theoretical knowledge; encourage mobility of knowledge from the field to the College and vice versa; help schools document, preserve, and share their work; and create a high-quality space for experimentation for education students and faculty, and teachers in the field.