Learning about Teacher Education Professional Development in Israel – Melissa Parker

What an experience!  From June 3rd -10th Mary O’Sullivan, Ann McPhail, and I with Paul Conway (School of Education) and Rose Dolan (Maynooth) had the honour of learning from and with new colleagues in Israel.  The purpose of our study tour was to strengthen our international research network and work to build an international research base on teacher education.  In particular we were interested in how professional development for teacher educators is supported and how the research agenda on teacher education in Israel is lead.

The five days were packed.  We spent three days with colleagues at the Mofet Institute in Tel Aviv learning from their experience in creating diverse opportunities for professional development adapted to teacher educators’ diverse backgrounds and career trajectories. This included:

  • study programs for novice and experienced teacher educators who seek to develop their abilities in educational research, academic writing, instruction and mentoring, and management in academic institutions;
  • post-doctorate program in applied studies in teacher education;
  • communities of educators dealing with collaborative learning in ICT-intensive environments;
  • communities of practice for senior position holders in teacher education institutes and policymakers; and
  • applied research projects that can provide evidence to policymakers.

One day was spent at David Yellin College in Jerusalem where we explored their teacher education and physical education programmes.  We were particularly taken with how they use distance learning to break cultural barriers.  A day (and more) was also spent with our host institute, Levinsky College of Education in Tel Aviv, understanding their site-based teacher education programmes in local schools.  A highpoint was spending a morning in a local primary school whose student enrolment represented over 25 different nationalities.

A final unique experience was participating in a teaching simulation lab at Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv.  In the lab professional actors simulate basic challenges faced by teachers, such as class management and communicating with students, parents and peers.  The teacher has to respond to the situation while the encounter is observed by colleagues and documented, and later on it evaluated and analysed in a group discussion.  I was selected as the teacher for our group. My situation revolved around three high school students who were preparing for a fitness test, two of whom brought their pre-class argument regarding a social media posting to class with them. While I was doubtful of the reality of the experience before it began that dissipated about 10 seconds into the lab!  It was VERY real and I was VERY challenged.  I have the video — now to determine how to best use it with our students.

There are many to thank for our time there.  Mary O’Sullivan for writing the initial Eramus+ Staff Mobility Training that supported the opportunity, Drorit Ram from Levinsky College, Ainat Guberman and Michal Golan of the Mofet Institute, and Ruth Bar-Sinai of David Yellin College.

The good news is there will be a reciprocal by our Israeli colleagues to Ireland in November to build awareness at UL and nationally of the professional development work in support of teacher educators.  As part of that visit we plan to host a workshop at UL and invite teacher educators from around the island to attend.  Check for updates!!

Melissa (Missy) Parker is a Lecturer and Course Director of the Professional Master of Education (Physical Education) here in the PESS Department at the University of Limerick. View Missy’s profile Here!

Missy’s Email: missy.parker@ul.ie

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