‘Hashkafa’ focuses on developing a new professional culture based on teachers’ learning communities led by leading teachers.
The trend of collaboration in knowledge, experience, insights and resources in today’s society, and the means of communication that facilitate it, provide an exceptional opportunity to create communities for mutual inspiration and professional development based around pedagogic discourse. These communities connect people, they connect theoretical wisdom with practical understanding and they facilitate the development of a shared “teaching wisdom” in order to improve the quality of teaching and learning.
Teachers’ learning communities operate in schools, within the school context, and they are consolidated around a discipline or around a shared pedagogic focal point. These communities share professional experience and thinking, and they research and develop teaching methods that are connected to the school and classroom environment.
Leading teachers are selected teachers, with qualities of leadership, enthusiasm and passion for leading continued processes of pedagogic discourse, cooperation and improvement.
Together with their communities, the leading teachers contribute to enriching pedagogic discourse, improving teaching and learning in the classroom and engaging the community of teachers in pedagogic insights and outputs.
We believe that over time an intermediate leadership will be created in every school that will lead processes of pedagogic investigation, processing and planning and will structure a culture of learning, partnership and creative work alongside the principal.
‘Hashkafa,’ launched in the 2015–2016 school year, is the fruit of collaboration between the Ministry of Education and the Yad HaNadiv foundation.
In order to improve the students’ learning and achievements by improving the quality of teaching, teaching personnel need opportunities for continued professional development. This professional development is characterized by the responsibility, partnership and active involvement of the teachers themselves, and it is based on their practical experience.
Experience and research show that better teaching is the key to improving students’ learning and achievements. Therefore, many education systems today set themselves challenges of improving teaching and learning and making them significant, and they cope with these challenges by changing traditional patterns of teachers’ professional development.
In many places it is now realized that optimal professional development:
- Necessitates orderly, continuous professional learning;
- Occurs in the context of the teacher’s everyday work;
- Is derived from teachers’ authentic problems and is based on data and samples of their work;
- Is based on teachers’ active involvement and partnership in pedagogic development and learning processes.
These insights have driven leading education systems worldwide to change teachers’ professional development processes and replace the courses that teachers “receive” with professional learning that transfers some of the responsibility for professional development to the teachers themselves.
In order to improve teachers’ professional development, and as part of the aim of turning teachers themselves into a major factor in pedagogic discourse, ‘Hashkafa’ has set itself three objectives:
- Establish an effective system of professional development led by teachers;
- Improve teaching practice;
- Improve students’ learning and achievements.
These objectives and their achievement in practice are based on five premises:
1. A need for an education of value in a changing world
The education system’s main task is to nurture the identity, knowledge and abilities of today’s children in a way that will enable them to be part of and at the same time to mold the future. The education system therefore has to relate to the civic, ethical, cultural and economic realities characterized by global culture, human heterogeneity and employment dynamism.
2. A move towards teaching that creates meaning
Advanced education systems throughout the world seek to cope with this complex, dynamic reality by promoting pedagogic reforms whose common denominator is the transition from “transferring” teaching – which focuses on transferring material to a passive audience, to significant teaching –
which is rich in interest, involvement and experience, and which gives pedagogic leading back to the schools and the teachers.
3. The teachers’ central role
The educational act and research prove time after time that the teachers are the core of the education system’s quality. Effective professional development is a proven lever for improving the quality of teaching and learning, and it is characterized by focusing on teaching and learning and that is connected to the local school context and is based on teacher work samples.
4. The importance of culture of cooperation
The teaching profession is often characterized by professional isolation, even though it has been proved that the quality of teaching and learning depend on sharing teaching knowledge, thinking about and observing students’ learning and sharing the lessons of accumulated experience.
5. The challenge of extracting teaching knowledge
The teaching system is blessed with excellent teachers, who are rich in practical understanding that is based on great experience and knowledge. Education systems that provide these teachers with an infrastructure for extracting, conceptualizing and distributing their teaching knowledge produce professional development that is effective and enriches pedagogic expertise. This infrastructure needs to include professional support and guidance as well as system-wide conditions for regularly carrying out meetings for cooperation, consultation, research and development.