Thanks to an Australian–Israeli connection, over 70 Australian teachers learnt innovative teaching methods in Israel as part of the 2022 JNF Educators’ Tour.
The tour focused on Israeli education methods and provided teachers with new insights and tools for teaching.
Upon a visit to Australia, former director of Sydney’s Kesser Torah College and current coordination of Boys Town Jerusalem’s (BTJ) Australian development, Ilana Kaplan invited JNF shaliach Yigal Nisell to visit Boys Town Jerusalem during the teachers’ conference.
“Across the globe, post-COVID students are struggling with reading comprehension deficiencies, compelling educators to take urgent remedial steps,” Kaplan said.
“I’m fortunate to have an insight into how a literacy program developed at BTJ could be of special value to Australian Jewish school educators as well.”
BTJ principal Rabbi Alon Madmoni addressed teachers upon arrival about the effects of COVID and online teaching on students.
Following school closures of 2020 and 2021, he stressed that 48 per cent of junior high students tested below literacy norms.
As a result, the “Reading from the Root” program was created to boost reading function and encourage students to improve comprehension skills and give direct answers.
“The program spans classes on all levels,” Madmoni explained.
“We’ve developed ‘navigation cards’ to prompt students to correctly identify ‘question words’ and ‘instruction words’.
“We even permit students to use these cards during exams to guide and drill them into deciphering the question and the necessary form in which to answer.”
When speaking about the teachers of BTJ, Kaplan highlighted her admiration for the faculty’s devotion to the largely disadvantaged student body.
“Their genuine care gives the boys the ability to believe in themselves and reach great heights,” she said.
“I personally witnessed the transformation of the boys and I’m honoured to share the phenomenon with teachers from Jewish schools across Australia as well.”
Tal Aronstam, a teacher at Moriah College, heartily concurred.
“It was phenomenal to see what Boys Town Jerusalem offers these boys who otherwise wouldn’t have such opportunities, particularly in the STEM subjects,” she said.