A small group of Israeli teacher educators visited Ireland from November 28th to December 4th, 2017, following a visit of Irish teacher educators to The MOFET Institute and Levinsky College of Education in Tel Aviv and The David Yellin Academic College of Education in Jerusalem several months earlier. The purpose of the visit was to meet with teacher educators and policy-makers in Ireland in order to raise their awareness of teacher educators’ professional development needs.
Dr. Michal Golan, Head of The MOFET Institute, presented the diverse ways in which the Institute supports the work of teacher educators: study programs, a publishing house that publishes academic works written by the teacher educators as well as a refereed journal in which they can publish their work, communities of practice and communities of research, think tanks and more. Dr. Ainat Guberman, Head of MOFET’s Research Authority, described the policy supporting the research projects conducted by the Institute. The projects are conducted by teacher educators from all of the country’s colleges of education in collaboration with policy-makers. Dr. Drorit Ram from Levinsky College of Education presented the class-academy project – a school residency program for third-year student teachers initiated by the Ministry of Education. It requires close collaboration between schools and institutions of higher education in order to derive three types of benefits: (1) providing student teachers with high-quality preparation; (2) affording mentor teachers and schools opportunities for professional development; and (3) enabling program providers to meet schools’ as well as student teachers’ needs and adapt their programs accordingly. Mira Shweky from The David Yellin Academic College of Education presented her program, which seeks to nurture student teachers’ multi-cultural sensitivity and skills through filmmaking.
In Ireland, the teaching profession enjoys a high status and attracts excellent applicants. We were impressed by Ireland’s efforts to create coherent teacher education programs that exemplify best practices in teaching. Student engagement, “hands-on” experiences, problem-based learning and technology-rich learning environments constitute the core of such programs. The National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning provides funds to support innovation in teaching in institutions of higher education as well as awards for outstanding teaching.
Current challenges include creating better collaborations between training schools and institutions of higher education; ensuring that mentor teachers receive suitable preparation; appropriating research and professional development as teachers’ way of life throughout their careers; and empowering teacher educators within their institutions of higher education as well as in teacher education policy-making.
The Israeli delegation at the entrance to the Maynooth University meeting hall