Hidden Sparks Program, Training Teachers to Work with Students with Learning Difficulties, Holds Summer Training Course in Jerusalem

Eden Israeli, SAE Learning Disabilities Coordinator and Director of “Hidden Sparks”

The Hidden Sparks program, which trains teachers in innovative methodology regarding work with students with learning difficulties, held its summer training program in Jerusalem during the first two weeks of July.

Nine schools throughout Israel are currently participating integrating the practices of Hiddedn Sparks into their curriculum. Ranging from elementary to high schools, these schools represent the full spectrum of Israeli society, including pluralistic, state religious, and Arab schools and include three Socoety for Advancement of Education schools — Boyar High School, K.A.N. Community School and Re’ut High School.

Nine schools throughout Israel are currently integrating “Hidden Sparks,” which was initiated in the U.S.A. There were 23-30 participants in this year’s course, mostly new teachers who will go on to become “internal coaches,” introducing the project’s methods to teachers within their schools. These teachers were joined in the course by administrators and former participants who wanted to refresh their knowledge.

The course was facilitated by Claire Wurtzel, one of the program’s two educational directors, who comes from the U.S. where Hiddedn Sparks was created. The program began with the four-day “Learning Lenses” course which introduced the Hidden Sparks philosophy and mandate, and continued with the first meeting of the internal coaching course, which will continue on a monthly basis throughout the years of the program.

During the training, participants go through experiential processes that help them understand how students might feel when confronted with challenges, or when having to work in a group, and discuss approaches for defining the student’s difficulties and strengthening him or her.

Claire summed up the course: “Participants are overwhelmed on the first day, but by the third day, they are already using the program’s vocabulary. Initially they come with “answers,” labeling the children’s difficulties. We encourage them to leave the label behind and simply describe what they see. If they leave the course questioning their previous approach, we’ve succeeded. I reflect every evening, thinking about who spoke, who didn’t, and why. I tell them that I do this, because I want them to do the same regarding their classes.”

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