Within the framework of Orot Israel College's students doing practical work, last year we were invited to the Feuerstein School in Jerusalem for Development Deficiencies and Complications. The Pedagogic Counselor Ms. Evelin Hirsch invited Dr. Avia Gutman, who runs the Special Education course, and Ms. Racheli Bartov, the Practical Work Coordinator, for a tour of the professional school. Over twenty students with other practical work experience in the Jerusalem area joined the meeting.
In the first part of the visit, there was a meeting with the Principal, Mr. Michael Wolf, who presented the school’s principles, first among them Professor Feuerstein’s doctrine, which states the belief in the child’s capacity for cognitive change, particularly children with different levels of mental deficiencies. The principle highlighted the dedicated work of Pedagogic Director Ms. Evelin Hirsch, who is in charge of six students in the practical workplace and is involved with the students’ pedagogic work in the classroom under the framework of the Academia Class program. The program is unique in that the students comprise a “second teacher in the classroom” and along with the teacher support the students as an integral part of the class over the course of the academic year. The principle remarked that in spite of the Corona period and social distancing rules, the student teachers and students came to class without reservations when the school reopened after the lockdown, and took note of the great joy and sparkling eyes of the students when they returned to school.
The teacher instructor, Hava Solam, who also served as a liaison with the College for students’ needs remarked that the students took full responsibility for their work, participated in all the school activities including Shabbat at the school, with a lot of love and support for the students and their families. She said that the teachers learned a lot from the students: new learning tools, and a wide variety of means of instruction for the various subjects they were studying.
At the end of the Principal’s opening discussion, we went out for a tour of the classes in which our students were learning. We observed lessons given by a pair of our third-year students along with the teacher instructor in a class of children with mental deficiencies. It was an experience to see the teaching abilities of our students on the one hand and the learning abilities of this student population. I wish to remark that it was an amazing sight to see the students look at these children with such love, and to hear one of the student-teachers affectionately praise one of the children after he/she succeeded in a learning assignment.
We saw a unique “teaching in a pair” lesson delivered by the instructor Lidia and student Hodiya, who along with mathematics teach Life Skills Orientation buying and selling applications. The teacher and student cooperated in fully coordinated joint instruction, and it was almost impossible to tell apart teacher from student… This full partnership instilled in the student a commitment to teach her pupils via Zoom on a daily basis during the Corona period, with a sense of personal responsibility for their advancement.
Afterwards other projects were presented to us: All the students produced a personal project in which each pupil starred in a presentation or short video within the realm of a favorite hobby or a family framework. Naama and Adi, who worked with the older classes, prepared a digital book that summed up their years and their experiences at the school.
During the tour of the school we felt the students’ vivaciousness and pleasure of "giving" by using up-to-date teaching tools, along with the readiness of the teachers and therapeutic staff to guide and instruct the students so that they can achieve optimal teaching capabilities.
I am pleased to note that one student who did practical work was asked by the Principal of the school to continue as a teacher in her year of internship. This student is actually closing a circle, as she did her National Service at the Feuerstein School.
In the closing conversation, the school's principal emphasized that towards next year he is building the annual educational program that will focus on differential teaching, based on the full partnership in teaching the teachers' staff together with the student staff.
We wish to thank the school’s administration and the teachers’ staff for opening both our hearts and the site for this professional tour.
A special thanks to the Pedagogic Counselor Ms. Evelin Hirsch, and to all the wonderful students who receive her instruction.
We wish you all success in your continuing paths as teachers in Israel!
Dr. Avia Gutman – Director of the Special Education course
Ms. Rachel Bartov – Coordinator of the Practical Work program