The students and staff of SAE’s Inbar High School in Jerusalem, Israel’s first secular leadership school for girls, engaged in a two-day brainstorming and planning session earlier this summer to determine the best academic and social protocols for the coming year’s classesin this age of COVID-19.
Miriam Leibowitz-Assaraf, principal and founder of the school, describes the process and the innovative educational model – the Hive – the team developed:
By Miriam Leibowitz-Assaraf
In July, like all educational staffs, we gathered to discuss the question: What will Inbar’s curriculum look like during this time of the coronavirus? There were mostly question marks, but two things were clear – each class should be split into two smaller groups, studying in different physical places; and that we would not likely be able to double the number of teachers accordingly.
Based on these assumptions we embarked on the challenge of developing a plan. We set a two-part goal – to create a strategy based on Inbar’s pedagogical vision, that will carry the school into the future and not just be a response to coping wirh Corona, and — that will consider the fact that relationships and social/emotional processes are top priorities for adolescence student in general, and particularly during this period, and they are critical foundations that will enable learning.
We sat, thought, sketched, wrote and erased – and after 48 intense hours we came up with a framework for the plan which we will call “the Hive Model”.called the hive model. Like the bees, which sometimes work outside and sometimes inside – but always with one goal – producing honey!
The Hive strengthens and deepens a number of Inbar principles.
- Developing independent learning.skills
- Developing teamwork skills
- Deepening and strengthening social and emotional resilience
The Hive Model shapes integrated learning in the school by building a curriculum in two parallel spaces simultaneouslt:
- An Independent Learning Space – a space where students progress in independent learning, through guided instructions, and at a personal / group pace.
- A Knowledge Community Space – a space in which a teacher is present, and students progress according to the teacher’s instructions, with diverse teaching and learning tools.
How does it work?
During a school day, classes are conducted according to the ‘regular’ system in homeroom classes of 18 students. At the same time, a group of six students from each class, goes out to an “independent learning space”. (at school or at home – depending on the spaces available at the school), for an entire day. These groups are based on Inbar’s “houses” model (a model in which each student belongs to a small group called a “house” that meets once a week with its personal teacher and does social-emotional work together). In an independent learning space, there is a fixed division of roles, and work throughout the day is done according to tasks and guidelines that teachers upload to the class for independent study.
Sounds challenging? Absolutely!
To make it easier for the students, we built:
- Learning tools to support an independent learning space – a board for managing independent learning, a reflective tool for the end of an independent learning unit, a uniform format for all teachers to provide instructions for independent learning, and more…
- Supportive consistency — for example, all individual tutoring hours dring the first two months will be devoted to supporting independent learning, each day will open with a social activity hosted by students in rotation, during the day there will be a ‘house’ meeting with each student’s techer, and more…
The model is still under construction…
Benefits of the hive model:
- Maximum possibility of a face-to-face learning session.
- Enables a consistent routine for most of the class
- Based on an existing emotional-social model
- A simple, not too complex, model, with a logical and structured sequence.
- Encourages in-depth relationship building and teamwork
- Encourages and develops independent learning skills.
Unresolved challenges / issues:
- More staff spaces are needed to meet the challenge of building each teaching unit for two spaces and in two different ways
- Long days of wearing masks and maintaining social distance and hygiene rules
- Requires development of independent learning capabilities that don’t yet exist at the beginning of the year.
A big shout out to Inbar’s development team who worked so hard building the model and developing the supportive tools – to Moriyah Green Sterman, Noga Sheffer Raviv, Aya Alon, Amira Bar Shalom and Irit Merchav. And to all the rest of the Inbar’s staff, who provided feedback and enlightened, supported and cheered. A team of champions!!