Education for all - “I am not alone, others face similar challenges!”

A student at one of the schools in the West Bank who benefited from SPEP

Teaching! Sounds like a lonely job; teachers work individually and struggle individually. They never have a real chance to observe how teaching occurs at the classroom next door, or even to share their experiences, give suggestions, comments and ideas to one another. 

At Aziz Shahein, a school in the Ramallah district, teacher’s evaluation was much like other public schools, a total external issue; based on annual supervision.

Self-evaluation for the self-improvement phase at the Support to Palestinian Education Programme (SPEP) aimed at forming a different perspective on teacher evaluation; giving teachers an active and a collaborative role to use their expertise to help improve their own teaching as well as their colleagues’, in an open, trusting, critical yet a friendly environment.

Several methods were implemented to achieve that. One worth noting was the use of video recordings. At the first stage, three video sessions were held, teachers had the chance to watch lessons conducted by other teachers. A group discussion followed guided by a worksheet. “Our message was not to show teachers better models of teaching but to activate their observation and reflection skills,” said one of the coordinators. Soon the teachers realized that the video examples were far from perfect. It was a big relief for them, as one stated, I am not alone, and others face similar challenges!”

During the teachers’ discussion, different areas were highlighted including the best practices they observed and what were not. They were encouraged to visualize what they could have done if they were to be in place of the teacher in the video. They were also able to notice that most of what they have seen was teacher-centred; teachers did a large percentage of the talking and questioning. This issue in particular reminded some of them of their own teaching and helped identify with their students.

In fact, teachers at Aziz Shahein have regained their confidence. It started when one of the teachers during the discussion said; “we know that we usually do better than that, why can’t we be models to others…I am ready to be the first to have my class on video… all of you are welcomed to watch it with me and give your comments…we can learn from each other.” 

For a period of two weeks this became a trend at the school, more teachers were encouraged to highlight their practices, comment and receive comments in a professional non-judgmental environment. 

Teachers realized that they are not alone in the practice and together they can effectively address their mutual problems, improve their own practice and be critical friends to one another.

SPEP is a 7 million Euro programme, funded by the Government of Italy, aimed at improving the educational system in the occupied Palestinian territory.  The technical assistance component targeted schools and universities, while the infrastructure component included construction, rehabilitation and equipping of over 190 schools, with laboratories, libraries, computer centres, audio visual equipment and material.