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Master teachers as agents of improvement in the education system

Activity type: Consensus Committee
Activity coordinator: Orit Sommer
Activity period: 2013-2014

In response to a request by the Ministry of Education, the Yad Hanadiv Foundation and the Trump Foundation, a joint study program was conducted for researchers, educators and decision makers with the aim of examining ways to foster “master teachers” as agents of improvement in the education system. At the end of the period of study, policy recommendations were presented, along with proposals for initial stages of policy implementation.

The steering committee, chaired by Miriam Ben-Peretz, a recipient of the Israel Prize in Education and professor emerita at the University of Haifa’s Faculty of Education, guided and planned the study program. Prof. Lee Shulman joined as co-chair during the final stage of the activity. Other members of the committee included Prof. Bat-Sheva Eylon of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Prof. (emerita) Naama Sabar Ben-Yehoshua from Tel Aviv University and Mr. Eli Shalev, representing the teachers.

The program was also assisted by an advisory committee, including representatives of the Ministry of Education, the foundations and the Initiative for Applied Education Research.

It was decided that the study process would focus on the group of master teachers as a catalyst for the systemic improvement of teaching. This focus was based on two main assumptions:
• An essential condition for the systemic improvement of teaching is to create a cadre of professionals who are capable of leading processes of professional development for teachers.
• Master teachers possess outstanding abilities both in working with the pupils (quality teaching that sets high goals for each pupil, monitors the pupil’s progress and adapts the teaching methods to the pupil) and as leaders of learning processes among their fellow teachers and in the education system, through conceptualization, integration of knowledge, coordination of subjects and activities, and so on.

The steering committee’s core activity was a study group of about thirty participants, members of a “roundtable,” all of whom were experts with capabilities and interest in the field: researchers, Ministry of Education officials, representatives of professional development for teachers, representatives of teachers and of teachers' educators. The roundtable was led by Dr. Nir Michaeli from the Kibbutzim College. Members of the roundtable convened three times (one of the meetings was two days long). Experts from Israel and abroad presented reviews of research knowledge and taught practical models from Israel and from the world, focusing on processes of developing master teachers and teacher activity for systemic improvement.

A forum of ten to fifteen teachers provided input for the roundtable discussions, bringing their perspectives and experience as teachers, and responded to the roundtable’s papers in light of the process and as needed.

A summary paper was written at the roundtable, including recommendations and explanations. The paper was presented to the steering committee, which added its comments and responses.
The committee began its activity in late 2013, and the summary document was published in the autumn of 2014. The findings and recommendations were made available to those engaged in adapting the education array in Israel to the challenges of the next generation.

The activity was conducted with funding and assistance from the Yad Hanadiv Foundation and the Trump Foundation.

Ms. Orit Sommer was the coordinator the study process on behalf of the Initiative for Applied Education Research.