Dror’s Schools: Leading the Change
Dror Israel’s school network is transforming not only the lives of its students, but Israel’s entire education system!
Dror Israel’s school network is updating Israeli education for the 21st century. Researchers and educators agree that the current classroom model is losing relevance and throughout the world teachers are struggling to adapt to keep up with the constantly-changing world. The network’s award-winning schools feature innovative dialogical and project-based learning which empowers students from troubled backgrounds and for whom traditional schools are not effective to become leaders in their fields. However, the impact of the schools extends far beyond the schools’ campuses.
Dror Israel’s school network is made up of 15 schools located throughout Israel’s social and geographic periphery. Our schools serve over 1,100 students yearly in partnership with local municipalities. Many of the students come from troubled backgrounds, having been rejected from other educational frameworks and for whom Dror represents their “last chance.” While the primary target population for Dror Israel schools is youth at risk, other students choose to opt in, attracted by our innovative, high-quality education and intense focus by teachers on a child’s holistic development, not only on test results. Teachers from other schools have also taken notice of the innovation and impact happening at Dror’s schools and seek to implement elements in their classrooms.
In addition to changing the lives of the students who attend Dror Israel’s schools, the network also impacts hundreds of teachers, principals and school administrators throughout the country. The unique, groundbreaking pedagogy developed at the schools has influenced dozens of other schools around Israel. Dror’s schools receive countless visits each year - from government ministers, other school’s principals and teachers, from university students studying education. Visitors come to see the unique and innovative pedagogy in action and to hear from the students and teachers about its effectiveness and impact on their lives.
The main event which welcomes hundreds of visitors into the 8 high schools across the country are their open-house days which feature presentations of students’ projects. After having to limit visitors due to Covid for the past year, this January the schools will again host events which invite teachers and principals from surrounding schools to come learn about social project-based learning and their unique educational approach.
From these visits, the network’s directors understood that other educators were interested in learning more about Dror’s approach. They began to organize training seminars and conferences which prepare educators to implement elements of Dror’s pedagogy at their own schools. In addition to best practices for project-based learning, the trainings focus on central elements of the Dror schools’ educational approach such as the importance of building trust between students and of empowering students to feel responsible for not only themselves but also their community and the world around them.
In addition to these trainings, educators from the school network consult and mentor 12 other schools throughout the country on an ongoing basis. They help high schools, preschools and elementary schools develop pedagogy, train their teachers, and deal with educational issues that arise throughout the year.
One of the schools in Dror Israel’s school mentoring program, located in Be’er Sheva, through consultation and guidance from Dror, has revolutionized their parent-teacher night. They implemented elements of Dror’s dialogical pedagogy and alternative evaluation methods (instead of tests and grades). At a typical parent-teacher night, the teacher reports to the parents about how their child is performing in class and they discuss the child’s grades. This year the school worked to develop a new model wherein the student themself reports to their teacher and their parents about how they are doing in school. In the week prior, the sixth-grade teachers helped their classes to reflect on their progress, behavior and challenges in their various school subjects. On the night of the meeting, each student sat with their parents and teacher and shared how they feel they are doing in school.
Galia, the school’s Dror coordinator, said that “as opposed to a simple report, this opened a unique and important conversation about the student’s goals, struggles and what they need from the adults in their life in order to succeed. It created a lively and ongoing conversation between the teachers and parents- turning them into partners who can better support the students together. All of the feedback about this new model - from parents and teachers, as well as from the students - was really positive.“
The educational network has also published research and findings based on the schools’ pedagogical approach. An upcoming book will detail the importance of the teacher-student connection and offer guidance for teachers in connecting to at-risk youth.
With its impact felt in countless schools throughout the country, Dror Israel’s school network is leading the way in revolutionizing Israeli education.