External Evaluation of the CIE/ISMI Teacher Enrichment Workshop on Modern Israel
October 2015, Rosov Consulting, Jerusalem, Israel
At the conclusion of the 15th CIE/ISMI Educator Workshop on Modern Israel, the AVI Chai Foundation contracted Rosov Consulting to conduct an evaluation of the workshop’s impact on Jewish Day School attendees.
“The Workshop’s impact is greatest on individuals who experience serious instruction in how to teach about Israel for the first time in their professional careers. If groups of teachers would come from the same school to the same Workshop session– something we strongly recommend – the results would be exponentially great. A cadre of teachers rather than just a committed individual would return to schools inspired and capable of doing things better.
One could speculate that if those who come to the Workshop were primarily responsible for teaching history or teaching politics, then perhaps the Workshop’s impact on schools would be greater. But then those responsible for teaching about Israel in day schools are teachers of Bible and/or Rabbinics, or they are Hebrew teachers. That is the reality with which the CIE must wrestle. It is appropriate therefore that these teachers do participate in the Workshop even while much of what they learn does not directly relate to a large part of what they are asked to teach by their schools.
For the moment, the Workshop has greatest impact on one teacher at a time. Its impact occurs through the agency of individual teachers, less though the agency of schools as institutions. When the circumstances allow, these individual teachers are enabled by the Workshop to teach about Israel in ways that are often radically different from what they were doing previously. The Workshop equips teachers to raise the bar in terms of the quality and sophistication of what they teach.”
An Exemplary case from the report:
“As part of the qualitative data collection component of our work we interviewed two teachers and one administrator from a medium-size K-8 community day school on the east coast. What we learned can be exemplary for others.
In this instance, the school sent two teachers together to the Workshop with the goal that on their return they would lead the design of a new curricular strand that would touch all students in the school. At that time, the school was experimenting with creating a special session each week for all students to be engaged with common content. They had not originally thought of using this time to teach about Israel, but following the teachers’ return from the Workshop they were willing to experiment.
Since their return, the two teachers have been able to continue to work together. With the strong support of the administration, these teachers – who are not senior members of staff themselves – have been functioning as consultants to other teachers – their peers – in helping them integrate Israel in to other teachers’ classrooms. In short, the ripple effects from time at the Workshop continue to ripple across the school.
What happened in this school is instructive. School leadership saw the Workshop as a stimulus to change. They committed personnel to make it possible, and they provided a kind of blank slate on which these teachers could develop their vision. Such propitious circumstances are not present in most schools, but it is instructive to see what is possible when school leaders are willing to commit time and personnel, and where organizational system of the school was accommodating.”
Camaraderie, Collaboration and Enhanced Content: Assessing Changes to the Design of the Center for Israel Education’s Teacher Enrichment Workshop on Modern Israel
July 2017, Rosov Consulting, Jerusalem, Israel
Following the 2015 Rosov Report that evaluated the CIE/ISMI Teacher Enrichment Workshop on Modern Israel, CIE/ISMI made slight but important changes to the structure of the workshop’s content and organization. Special emphasis was placed on recruiting cohorts of teachers from the same schools as opposed to only individuals from separate schools. The revised program instituted new tracks in content and instruction and devoted additional time for collegial processing and reflection. Teacher evaluations from the 2017 workshop confirmed school collaboration in curriculum preparation was successfully enhanced.
“Responses from participants in the 2016 CIE Teacher Enrichment Workshop express appreciation for the rich learning about Israel and about ways to teach about Israel that the Workshop provides. As in the past, participants have especially valued having their horizons extended to periods of history and to aspects of contemporary Israeli culture with which they were not previously familiar. Integrated with an opportunity to experience pedagogies and learning strategies for teaching about Israel in creative ways, the learning continues to be served up in a compelling brew.
Participants in the 2016 Workshop indicate also how their learning was enhanced this past year, and no less important, how their capacity to translate that learning into educational practice in their schools was enhanced by the changes made to the design of the CIE workshop in 2016. Qualitative data collected from alumni offer especially vivid evidence of how the experience of attending the Workshop with colleagues, and of thinking and working together with them at the Workshop, has enabled alumni to apply their learning in especially powerful ways back in their schools.
There is no greater testament to the worthwhileness of these changes (to the recruitment of school cohorts and the segmentation of the Workshop program) than the fact that alumni seek to extend such experiences beyond the confines of their one week at the Center for Israel Education. Alumni are hungry for more of the same.”
How the changes to the Workshop were connected to the outcomes:
“A couple of 2017 survey items explored the extent to which alumni have continued to collaborate with their colleagues since their return from the Workshop. The responses are mixed. 46% selected either “a lot” or “very much” in relation to having “colleagues with whom to collaborate on Israel Education, after my return to school.” 59% selected either “a lot” or “very much” with regards to having “the support of my colleagues if needed when implementing the workshop learnings back at school.” It seems from these responses that while teachers from the same school may have collaborated closely at the Workshop, back at school their work is still siloed and does not include extensive collaboration.
Interviews with Heads and Principals at schools from which groups of teachers came to the Workshop convey a somewhat different, more positive impression. These interviews explored, first, the expectations of administrators when sending more than one teacher at a time to the Workshop, and, second, what they perceive to have been the outcomes from doing so. The interviewees’ responses were consistently positive, and at the same time highlight different benefits in the switch to cohort-based recruitment. Some highlighted the motivational consequences of groups of teachers engaging in a professional learning experience, resulting in their ongoing commitment to working together. Some emphasized the intellectually generative outcomes produced by having teams of people learning together. Teachers are not only more motivated, they’re more creative too. Others highlighted the forming of a critical mass of individuals who, together, can get more done at school. Making change at school is much harder when only one person has been exposed to a new approach or new content.
We present below a selection of such comments. Taken together, they indicate that the adjustments made to the Workshop’s enrollment policy and the programmatic changes designed to capitalize on those adjustments have been worthwhile:
- I thought sending more than one teacher would be more helpful so that we could collaborate together there and then come back from the workshop and work together to implement [their learning] in our teaching and curriculum. It’s about the ability to discuss and collaborate at the workshop itself and then produce better outcomes back at school. It’s certainly valuable in terms of getting buy-in after return to the school.
- I can’t tell you how valuable this has been, and I have a point of comparison. Years ago, a teacher went alone to the workshop, she came back and disseminated [what she learned] once she came back. This time a cohort went together, spent time working together during the workshop, which led to camaraderie among the teachers. They came back and wrote up a new curriculum for Israel together. They came back with a network of people from the workshop to be in touch with.
- I think when you send a teacher alone, the impact is on the specific teacher’s learning and practices. Then you can ask that person to meet with others and make copies of the learning materials. It’s not a necessarily “you must do this” [as a school approach]. When you work as a team, you have others to bounce ideas off of and the expectations [to implement] are higher.
- The two history teachers in the upper school teach Israeli history in their classes, which is why they went to CIE last summer. I expanded the periods in which Israel is taught. Now that we have more resources from the Workshop, our teachers have been able to integrate more Israel education in their teaching.
- We have a whole new Israel curriculum here and a lot of it was written after the teachers came back from the Workshop. They integrated a lot of methodologies and lesson plans they were exposed to, and I feel very grateful they were exposed to that.