<b>Teaching English in Binyamin</b>

EFL English Teachers in the Benjamin District of Israel

Monday, November 05, 2007

A Calling?

Israel is in the midst of a rather complicated teachers strike. Complicated, since we have two teachers unions. One is striking and the other signed the government's demands. The government offered a contract based on "reforms" which would drastically change teachers work contracts and conditions. Lots more required hours in the schools for a a "slight" raise in salary. What it boils down to is less money per hour, but more per month and lots more rigid demands on teachers' time.

To say that teachers aren't united concerning the strike is an understatement. Not only is the dividing line union membership, but some teachers want to switch to the other union. And some teachers feel very guilty about striking.I'm part of an online discussion group among teachers. The strike, its pros and cons, is the main topic. Recently, someone wrote that he felt that striking conflicted with his "calling" as a teacher. A "calling?" Isn't that a religious term?

Teaching is a profession, which demands academic training, like a doctor, nurse, lawyer, CPA and computer programmer. Nobody demands that those professionals "make sacrifices for their calling." Only teachers are expected to both study and constantly update their professions, while at the same time, they're made to feel guilty for expecting a proper middle-class salary.In the teachers room we mention, in awe, the superior salaries our children receive, even though they may not be as well educated. I often do I hear my fellow teachers saying:

"My children won't go into education. They've seen my salary slip."

I've worked at a number of varied professions, and I really love teaching. A successful lesson gives me a great feeling, but it doesn't pay the bills. The teachers I meet at professional conventions are on the verge of retirement. We wonder who will replace us. The younger generation thinks we're fools. They wouldn't want to put up with what they know we put up with. Teaching's not easy, but getting a salary that's lower than average wage is an insult.

Unfortunately, too many teachers are under the misunderstanding that they're doing some "holy work" and shouldn't let the students suffer. Teaching is a talent, a skill and a love, but it's not religion.

Teachers must demand to be treated and paid as academic professionals. Otherwise the governments and society will continue to abuse us take us for granted. Yes, "abuse" us. The striking teachers are not responsible for their students' bad behavior. Just like during summer and the long holiday vacations, they have parents who are supposed to supervise their actions.

To be a teacher is not to be a babysitter. It's also not a "calling." It's a wonderful, challenging and rewarding job for those trained, talented and lucky enough to be teachers.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mentioned in Carnival of Education

The Israeli teachers strike is mentioned in the latest Carnival of Education.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


I just changed the template and other graphics on the blog. Now the "sidebar" is on the bottom, at the end.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Teachers Strike

I'm a member of the Irgun Morim, and we're supposed to be on strike.
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There's a "tradition," precedent that teachers don't strike in YESHA, but some of us don't find that valid. Teachers salaries have plummeted in comparison to other sectors.

A group of us from the Yeshiva High School Mateh Binyamin went to last night's demonstration.

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We saw other religious teachers, but we didn't see any from Judea and Samaria. It's very disturbing that our fellow/neighbor teachers have no idea what's going on. The other union, the Histadrut Morim signed a horrendous agreement which give an hourly salary lower than any other academic gets.

So far, we've been forced to work, but we were given off to go to the rally. We have to strike, too.
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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Strike!

Israel's Irgun Morim, the teachers union I and most high school teachers are members of, is about to go on strike. The other union, Histadrut Morim, which has mostly elementary school teachers, signed an agreement with the government last year. It's a very bad agreement. Many more teaching hours are required for a drop more money.

  • No special, reduced hours for mothers of young children nor the elderly teachers like me.
  • No special payments for those of us high school teachers who prepare the kids for Bagrut, the national matriculation tests.

I don't know if our school will strike; though we're all in favor of our union's stand. Traditionally, schools in Judea and Samaria don't strike, since we don't want the kids wandering around. Today we're getting the union's decision if we may join the strike or not.

Fewer and fewer young people are studying education, because the salaries are low, and the new agreements make teachers' lives even more difficult. With added required hours, there's no time to take on extra jobs.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Teacher Shortage

There just aren't enough English Teachers in Israel.

Most of us are over fifty and ready to retire.

Many schools are willing to give uncertified people, who have some related experience and lots of enthusiasm, a chance in the classroom. There are certification programs in some of the teachers colleges for teachers to get licensed. I was in the first group in David Yellin Teachers College, Jerusalem. It was then the only program, and students in the group came from all over the country.

If you're interested in teaching and have the opportunity, just don't take on too many classes, and make sure that you have a supportive mentor and fellow staff. Also get on the ETNI list, and join ETAI.

Good luck.

PS I stared off teaching without any prior experience or training, and I love it. I've been teaching English here for ten years, already.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I support the strike!

Israel's Irgun Morim, Teachers' Union, is striking against the proposed "reforms." Unfortunately, the other teachers' union, the Histadrut Morim signed its approval.

Read my reasons here.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The school year is getting closer

I just got a phone call from the teacher who has the impossible job of putting together the schedule. I told her that I just can't handle 4 days, since my traveling is so difficult. The other teachers requested Thursday as day off, and I had wanted Sunday and Wednesday. For some peculiar reason, my request wasn't in the pile. Maybe that's because I wasn't at the summer staff meetings, since they were during my trip to New York.

We still have an opening for another teacher, male or female for a boys high school. It's in Beit El. If you're interested, please let me know.

Classes are supposed to resume on August 26.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Vacation coming to an end

Here in Israel, many of the religious schools are beginning the year on August 26 or even earlier. That's because Rosh Hashannah is very early this year, and the schools like to prepare the students for the spiritual importance of the Jewish New Year.

"free" to post, I hope

Something strange happened to this blog not long ago. It was somehow deemed "spam" by blogger, and it was "closed" for posting.

I sent in a protest, and they took a look and sent me a letter announcing that it's now open for posting. Let's see.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

How to become an English Teacher in Israel

People are always asking me how to become an English teacher in Israel, how to get jobs, etc.

One thing; there's a shortage, especially of male teachers. There are schools which will only allow males to teach, so it's relatively easy to get a chance.

Many of us first began teaching and only later got official qualifications. I got my teacher's licence in the David Yellin Teachers College, Jerusalem.

Honestly, I love teaching. Otherwise, how could I continue?

I'm now asking anyone with information or questions to put them in the comments. So if you have questions and information, please go to the comments. Also, if anyone wants to join this blog and post, please let me know. I'll be away with less internet access for a few weeks, so don't worry if I don't get back to you immediately.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

ETAI Convention and a rant

There were lots of teachers at the ETAI Convention of Israeli English Teachers. And many were from the Benjamin Region, north of Jerusalem.

One even spoke to me about this blog, which is very encouraging. I believe that blogging should be utilized by English teachers.

It's always a treat to go to the convention, even when I only go for one day. Lots of old friends are English teachers, though many are retiring.

ETAI isn't a workers union, and it isn't associated with the two teachers unions. I think that we've missed out of our greatest chance to contribute our knowledge and experience to Israeli education because of that. I find it very frustrating. I truly hope that some of the younger teachers will take on the challenge of getting involved in the regular unions.

Even though English here is EFL, not ESL, the Education Ministry's English Department makes policies as if we're responsible for general education, but in English. So instead of concentrating on "teaching English" we are forced to teach the kids "projects" and research and internet and "thinking," etc. Yes, these things are important, but they must be part of the regular Hebrew curriculum.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Two Teachers, but no Co-Teaching?

The 11th and 12th grades will have two teachers. One for "learning English," and the other in a large double-lesson, for doing "unseens," reading comprehension.

We officially had it this year, but my weak students hated it. They never showed up. To improve matters, I've suggested that they get separate grades for the 2/5 hours. I also told the teacher who is getting these sessions that he must have help. Anarchy isn't conducive to learning.

I'm going to cross-post on me-ander.

Monday, May 21, 2007

English Bagrut

Where I teach, the kids who need to hear the test on tapes or orally are set up in the Tikshoret, Media, classroom. There's a two-room soundproof studio, just perfect for special testing.
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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

getting the students to write a composition

For dovrim (native speakers), they should be able to work more on their own, or in pairs. My group was the other end of the spectrum. But first teach them the basis of simple stories by using the question words. They should learn that a story has beginning, middle end, conflict and resolution.
Collect pictures from all over, magazines, internet, or like mine were sent by my son when trekking around. Mount them on bristol and code them. Have the kids write the code so you'll know which they used. You can reuse the pictures if they're mounted, like I did.

Considering that not all Israeli students are taught composition skills, it would be good to do a sample first together.

Please let me know what happens.
Good luck!