Can an MIT Incubator Wander? In Hemdat Academic It Can!

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Written by Dr. Cochava Farjun, Hemdat HaDarom College of Education

Edited by Tslil Farchi & reviewed by Marsha Hachmon

 

What is Promentors?

Promentors project involves nine Israeli colleges, and universities in Finland, Romania, England and Poland. They seek to put the subject of mentoring front and center. This aim stems from understanding the importance of the mentor’s role in the new teacher’s entry into the educational system.

As part of the project, the mentoring teachers get training for their role, through a mentoring course. This course is mainly divided into 2 parts. One part of the course is spesific sessions for mentors only. And, the second part is joint sessions of new teachers, interns and mentors. All this, is in contrast to mentoring courses at academic institutes, which hold meetings as such for mentors only.

The basic premise that underlies the joint sessions: The role of mentoring needs to take on a more authentic meaning. This authenticity stems from the fact that the joint sessions are planned based on the needs of the interns and new teachers, and hearing their voice firsthand.

The incubators

The framework, in which the course takes place, is called an incubator. This name is borrowed from the world of plant growing. The idea behind the name is pretty simple – An incubator is the optimal habitat for a plant development. One of the reasons for this, is that inside the incubator the plants are more protected from weather damage. And so too, we strive for the new teachers’ induction within the school framework to be optimal.

In order to achieve this goal, the joint meetings are held in the local municipality, and not the academic institution. In addition, connections are made with the staff of the local inspectorate and municipality. All this is done to raise awareness of the issue of the induction of new teachers in the educational institutions in the municipality.

In the past school year, 2020-2021, I led one Promentors incubator in Netivot. Due to it being “Year of Covid-19”, we held all the meetings on Zoom. Therefore, the contact with the local inspectorate and municipality wasn’t on a regular basis. Also in the current school year, 2021-2022, I’m leading two Promentors incubators: one in Netivot, and another in Sderot.

The Wandering Incubator

In order to increase the awareness of new teachers’ induction process among institutions’ management and local inspectorate and municipalities, we – the Promentors team at Hemdat Academic – decided to create a unique model, to which we call: a wandering incubator.

The uniqueness of this incubator is expressed in the way the meetings are held. Each time, the meetings are held in a different school. So that each school’s principal can present the model of the induction of new teachers in their institution. This requirement is an opportunity for an internal inspection. As well as for an observation of the manner of induction in that institution. And even perhaps an opportunity for rethinking, which may lead to an improvement in said induction.

In addition, every principal is asked to share the challenges they experienced as a principal and/ or teacher at the beginning of their career. As well as the ways in which they dealt with them. We aim to show the new teachers they’re facing a challenging stage. But, also that everyone goes through it. Our purpose in this, is increasing their level of personal and professional resilience.

The Incubator’s Travels

One of the most fascinating meetings took place at Haroeh School in Sderot. Eric, the school principal, shared with the new teachers the difficulties he faced. In particular, when he was given the opportunity to run the school. Back then, the school included a very small number of students. Thus, Eric was told that running the school will be for one year, at the end of which it’ll be permanently closed. After that, Eric told how he turned these difficulties into challenges. He eventually led to school growth, and a success story in Sderot. This meeting, with Eric, was an inspiration for new teachers. Those, who face many challenges at the beginning of their professional journey. Eric motivated them to see their difficulties as an opportunity for growth.

Another intriguing meeting took place in the agricultural farm in Sderot. Shay, the school principal, told the new teachers his some of his experience as a new teacher. Later, he told them how he ended up running the agricultural farm. In his remarks Shay focused on the fact, that throughout his educational work, he conducted himself from an inner compass. And this, without giving up his “I believe”.

Therefore, he advised the new teachers, who were present in the meeting, to do so. He recommended not to give up the educational principles that were most important to them. And to do everything possible to incorporate them within their educational endeavor and development. This meeting was an important opportunity for these teachers. Because it allows them to deepen thought about what they believe in. As well as what they are not willing to give up in their educational endeavors.

On our next meeting

The incubator will wander to Gil Rabin School, in Sderot. There, Gil Hadash, the school’s principal and head of the municipality’s Education Department, will respect us in his presence. As the leader of these incubators, I’d like to say that the meetings in the “wandering incubator” format contribute greatly to the resilience of beginning teachers. These meetings equip them with tools and insights, which are essential for overcoming the difficulties of entering teaching.

 

 

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