Diversity in the Teachers’ Room

Teachers without borders program for the Integration for Teachers with Disabilities

Background

There is growing recognition throughout the world of the right of people with disabilities to full participate in the community. The government of Israel adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2012, which includes the right to education and employment, as well as the law for the equal rights of people with disabilities in 1998 and the law for special education, which includes a section on the integration of children with disabilities, 20 years ago. Despite all this, people with disabilities continue to face obstacles which hinder their ability to participate fully in society, including in the arena of employment.

In education the situation is even more complicated, because of concerns and stereotypes: not including people with disabilities in the teaching staff withholds their rights and the right of students to get the best possible teachers, without regard to their identity, and to have new learning experiences from different perspectives.

As part of the approach of the Israeli Education Ministry to increase diversity in the teachers’ room, the Ministry is working to increase the number of teachers with disabilities. In 2014 the Ministry created the program “Teachers without Borders” and the Merchavim Institute joined with its expertise in diversity.

The challenge in the program is significant: integrating teachers with disabilities, increasing diversity in the teachers’ room, bringing teachers with disabilities as positive role models for students, families, communities and the school community.

The program is already having significant impact, both in individual success stories and in the larger sense of creating a difference in the perspectives of everyone involved: students, teachers, principals, families and the community. The numbers are still small, but the potential for significant impact is big and growing.

Activities

Merchavim advances the integration of teachers with disabilities in the following ways:

  • Ongoing support for teachers throughout the year: group support, seminars, workshops on different topics to improve their skills.
  • Personal support in the acceptance process to schools and support of teachers in the integration process.

Support for school principals who integrate teachers with disabilities. · In the integration process: support for schools in the recruitment process and obtaining additional teaching hours from the Education Ministry.

  • Individual support – one on one meetings with school principals, teachers and others for optimal integration.
  • Group support: workshop day for new principals, seminars and a principals’ forum.
  • Holding seminars in schools.
  • Research, conferences and communicating the program.

Testimonials

“The education system removes stereotypes and works to bring a diverse teaching staff. I have no doubt that Israeli society will be in a better place, educationally, ethically and otherwise, the more we see teachers with disabilities in classrooms – as educators and role models. We at the Ministry of Education provide teachers in the program with individual support, technologies and other tools to help their integration. We intent to continue to increase the number of teachers with disabilities and open our doors to everyone who can educate and advance Israel’s students”

Shmuel Abuav
CEO, Israel Ministry of Education

“The slogans of ‘accepting the other’ and ‘not giving up’ have gained a physical, real presence. I had the honor in getting to know my son’s teacher Eviatar, a person with a huge heart who sees the students first of all as people, and is able to see the world from their perspective: what interest them, what will push them forward as people and – most importantly – he truly respects them. Thank you Eviatar for your strength and courage.”

Sagit Zaluf Namir
Mother of 5th grader Ariel Namir, on his teacher Ariel

“The program creates a win-win situation for both sides: the employee gets an equal chance to prove himself and to make a living in the educational system, and the school gets a great added value, because a teacher with a disability can teach his or her students a lot more than the subject matter itself. My students are exposed to a teacher with a visual disability and become aware of the existence of different disabilities and the importance of accepting people who are “different.” They learn that they can treat me naturally even though I have slightly different needs, and that people with disabilities should be regarded first and foremost as persons, who are a lot more than their disabilities. Hopefully, those students get this message across to their parents and other people they know, and this may result in the rise of awareness among the public.”

Shira Senesh
Teacher
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Teachers, principals - visit the Merhavim recruitment portal
Teachers, principals - visit the Merhavim recruitment portal

חדשות

The people who make it happen

Odeli-a Fitoussi
Development and Training - Teachers with Disabilities Placement Program

Odeli-a was born in Israel and lives in Hibat Tzionn. She has a BA in criminology, sociology and anthropology and an MA in Expression and Art Therapy. She specializes in working with and for youth at risk and people with disabilities, and serves as chairperson of the Advisory Committee of the Commission of the Ministry of Justice. Odeli-a is an activist with the organization Bizchut and the director of the Civil Forum for the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She joined Merchavim in 2018.

Odeli-a was born in Israel and lives in Hibat Tzionn. She has a BA in criminology, sociology and anthropology and an MA in Expression and Art Therapy. She specializes in working with and for youth at risk and people with disabilities, and serves as chairperson of the Advisory Committee of the Commission of the Ministry of Justice. Odeli-a is an activist with the organization Bizchut and the director of the Civil Forum for the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She joined Merchavim in 2018.

Guy Finkelstein
Head of Teachers with Disabilities Placement

Guy was born in Kibbutz Horeshim, Israel, and makes his home in Kochav Yair. He has a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Social Work from Tel Aviv University and is a trained Psychotherapist. For many years, he championed for access to higher education for people with learning disabilities and other disabilities. He has won several awards for his work in this field. Guy is a social entrepreneur and among other things initiated and established a program integrating young people with disabilities into the pre-military programs and was among the founders of a program to integrate students on the autistic continuum into academia. Guy joined Merchavim in 2019.

Guy was born in Kibbutz Horeshim, Israel, and makes his home in Kochav Yair. He has a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Social Work from Tel Aviv University and is a trained Psychotherapist. For many years, he championed for access to higher education for people with learning disabilities and other disabilities. He has won several awards for his work in this field. Guy is a social entrepreneur and among other things initiated and established a program integrating young people with disabilities into the pre-military programs and was among the founders of a program to integrate students on the autistic continuum into academia. Guy joined Merchavim in 2019.