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Training Teachers to Cross Boundaries

Beit Berl College launched a bold teaching accreditation program to train and integrate Jewish and Arab teachers into "opposite" schools: Arab teachers in Jewish schools, and Jewish teachers in Arab schools. Cross-communal teaching in Israel both creates
positive encounters in otherwise separate classrooms throughout the country, and helps to remedy the severe shortage of teachers. Cross-Teach trains Jewish teachers to teach spoken Hebrew classes in Arab schools, cultivating spoken Hebrew among Arab youth; and trains Arab teachers to teach in the high-demand subjects of mathematics, science and English in Jewish schools. Dually-beneficial, being taught by an Arab teacher in a Jewish school and by a Jewish teacher in an Arab school will expose pupils to the “other” and allow them get to know the other organically, reducing stereotypes and feelings of alienation.

The one-year program opened in October with 18 highly-qualified and motivated Arab and Jewish students who together have one day of intensive studies and one day of practice teaching each week. Each student is paired with a personal mentor - a highly-skilled veteran teacher – for their practice teaching in one of the eight participating Jewish and Arab schools. Additionally, each school receives training in cross-cultural competence in order to integrate the teaching faculty. With the successful completion of the program, these 18 exceptional students will enter the education system in Israel as excellent teachers in their respective disciplines and approach that respects the difference and diversity in Israeli society through teaching in the "other" society. 

Because of low salaries and the socio-emotional difficulties spawned by the COVID crisis, Israel faces a severe teacher shortage. Cross Teach is an innovative, socio-educational solution to this current challenge. The program was developed and is being run by Dr. Rakefet Erlich-Ron, a senior lecturer at Beit Berl with broad experience in teaching in high schools and in preparing pre-service teachers. She has headed the program for training civics teachers as well as the Honors Program for Jewish and Arab students. Over the past two years, Rakefet has worked with municipalities throughout the Sharon and Triangle regions in designing and implementing teacher training programs. 

After years of research on the experience of Jewish and Arab educators teaching controversial subjects in schools, Rakefet and her colleague, Dr. Shahar Gindi, designed and initiated the Coaching Center for Dialogue at Beit Berl, helping to meet the need to train teachers to manage conflictual and racist situations in schools. 

In June, Rakefet was selected by the Ministry of Education as the national coordinator for cross-cultural teacher training, re-training 1200 in-service teachers in an intensive summer program, 70 of whom entered the “opposite” school system already this academic year. 

Visit the Cross Teach website for more information on the program in Hebrew and Arabic. 

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