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המכללה האקדמית בית ברל > English > About Us > News > Newsletter > September 2020 newsletter > Beit Berl Students and Faculty Bolster Israel's Education System During Pandemic

Beit Berl Students and Faculty Bolster Israel's Education System During Pandemic

With Israel's teachers overwhelmed by Covid-19’s pedagogic challenges, Beit Berl’s Faculty of Education steps up to the plate.
Israeli schoolchildren, like their peers around the world, have seen their lives turned upside-down in the last six months. Covid-19 restrictions have forced schools to teach remotely part of the time or to close entirely. In addition to the difficulties these arrangements pose for children’s education, they are also socially and emotionally challenging. 

Normally, 2nd and 3rd-year Education students at Beit Berl engage in practice teaching once a week, beginning in the middle of the year. This year, the students’ involvement will be much more intensive. They will start in September, even before the academic year begins in late October, and will teach two or more days a week on-site. This not only helps the teachers who are teaching students in small groups (pods), but it involves our students directly in meeting the challenges and uncertainties of the current Covid-19 situation. 

For the first time, Beit Berl faculty will also participate in community involvement initiatives alongside their students. Together, they will help children with schoolwork, provide enrichment classes in subjects such as Science or English, and organize team building activities. It is very difficult for novice instructors to lead virtual group activities, and therefore every effort will be made to enable in-person meetings. “During Covid-19 there is actually an opportunity for our students to enrich schoolchildren even more than in normal times – while meeting the health guidelines,” says Dr. Chait Shaham, Head of Beit Berl’s Teacher Training Dept. in the Faculty of Education. To accelerate the preparation process, students will participate in special intensive workshops to improve their skills as group leaders, before entering the field. 

As part of this College-wide effort, the Martin Buber Center for Dialogue Education is launching “Close-Up Learning,” a new initiative that aims to meet the emotional, social and educational needs of children and youth during the Covid-19 pandemic. Beit Berl's unique Martin Buber Center, in conjunction with Israel's youth movements, strives to provide better opportunities for the periphery's at-risk youth. Beit Berl students in this program will learn to create close-knit learning groups and help children process the new Covid routines. The students will also learn about the pandemic itself and precautions for preventing contagion, as well as the virus’s effect on various aspects of their lives. The goal is to be able to create a group bond within a classroom or community center that provides a sense of security and belonging in spite of all the uncertainty. 

Children attending new schools where they don’t yet have friends are facing special challenges this year. As part of the course “Challenges of Informal Education in the 21st Century,” approximately 70 Beit Berl students will spend a full day in two schools in the rapidly expanding town of Harish, where half of the students are new. They will lead extracurricular activities with various classes in outdoor settings, in order to help newcomers adapt to their new schools.  

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