Australian teachers take firsthand look at Israeli education innovations

July 22, 2022 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Over 70 Australian teachers visiting Israel recently gained an exceptional closeup on innovative Israeli education methods, thanks to a special Australian-Israeli connection.

Australian educators visit Boys Town Jerusalem

While visiting Australia several months ago, Ilana Kaplan, former director of Sydney’s KTC Jewish Day School, invited JNF Shaliach Yigal Nisell to include a visit to Boys Town Jerusalem during the teachers’ visit to Israel for the upcoming 2022 JNF Educators’ Tour.

Mrs Kaplan, now Boys Town Jerusalem’s Australian Development Coordinator, explains, “Across the globe, post-Covid students are struggling with reading comprehension deficiencies, compelling educators to take urgent remedial steps. I’m fortunate to have an insight into how a literacy program developed at Boys Town Jerusalem (BTJ) could be of special value to Australian Jewish School educators as well.”

Addressing the teachers upon their arrival to the campus, BTJ Principal, Rabbi Alon Madmoni, stressed that although the school has long offered remedial reading assistance, an urgent effort was undertaken following the Covid school closure when a stark 48% of junior high students tested below literacy norms.

As a result, the “Reading from the Root” program was created not only to bolster the reading function, but to enable students to master the skill of comprehending questions and giving direct answers. “The program spans classes on all levels,” the principal explained. “As teaching aids, we’ve developed posters and individual “navigation cards” to prompt students to correctly identify Question Words and Instruction Words. We even permit students to use these cards during exams to guide and drill them into deciphering the question and the necessary form in which to answer.”

On a subsequent tour of the Boys Town Jerusalem campus, Mrs Kaplan shared with the visitors her admiration for the faculty’s devotion to the largely disadvantaged student body. “Their genuine care gives boys the ability to believe in themselves and reach great heights. I personally witness the transformation of the boys, and I’m honoured to share the phenomenon with teachers from Jewish schools across Australia as well.”

Mrs Tal Aronstam, a teacher at Moriah College, heartily concurred. “It was phenomenal to see what Boys Town Jerusalem offers these boys who otherwise wouldn’t have such opportunities, particularly in the STEM subjects.”

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