A growing partnership between AFT and Hand in Hand

July 23rd, 2015
Hand in Hand and the American Federation of Teachers, with its 1.6 million members, share a common mission for strong, vibrant public schools that are safe and welcoming for all; that develop students’ problem-solving and critical-thinking skills through engaging curriculum; that have well-prepared and well-supported teachers and school staff; and that have strong ties with the community.
Hand in Hand and the AFT are developing a mutually beneficial partnership to share innovative models and best practices in teaching and learning, and to develop a better understanding of each other’s school cultures and identify areas for collaboration. Our schools’ challenges, while not identical, are similar in that they deal with external conflicts and challenges—in Israel, the Jewish-Palestinian struggle; in the United States, racial and socio-economic inequality.

AFT President Randi Weingarten visited Jerusalem’s Max Rayne Hand in Hand 
School in January 2015. Following up on that visit, a team of AFT staff visited all five Hand in Hand schools in May. The purpose of the May exploratory mission was to gather information and identify ways Hand in Hand and the AFT can learn from each other and build a working relationship.
In July 2015, Hand in Hand leaders Shuli Dichter, Inas Deeb and Ayelet Roth attended the AFT’s major summer educational issues conference in Washington, D.C., called TEACH (Together Educating America’s Children), which was attended by 2,000 educators. They attended workshops focusing on such issues as classroom technology; school design; and collaboration with educators, school 

management, parents and other community members. They met with managers of the AFT’s Share My Lesson, the United States’ largest digital collection of lesson plans and other instructional resources, to consider something similar for Israeli teachers. They also had meetings with union leaders and educators from various U.S. school districts to learn about innovative school models, such as community schools, which offer community-provided healthcare, social services, extra tutoring and other so-called wraparound services for disadvantaged children; successful professional development models; and teaching English as a second language.

Moving forward, a larger Hand in Hand delegation, which will include principals, is scheduled to travel to the United States in September to visit schools. They will explore the essential components of successful public schools and consider how to incorporate and scale up innovative programs in Hand in Hand schools.
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