“We are leading a new culture that empowers us all.” – Rachel Berman, Israel
Building a digital culture and leading a school as it innovates is of course full of challenges. From technology and infrastructure decisions to ensuring the teaching staff is on board and fully trained, the day-to-day world of a school leader, principal or administrator is anything but straightforward.
For Rachel Berman, principal of Gordon School in Israel, the road to creating a digital culture has been a challenge, but for the most part, one that has been worthwhile. “I was a teacher at Gordon School for 20 years,” says Berman, “but then I left the school and after four years, I came back as a principal.”
Berman brought many changes to her school, using innovation as her guide – and it’s paying off. “Since I began managing the school, the number of students entering first grade has increased three-fold,” she notes. “I made some changes in the staff. I hired new expert teachers and we began a process of staff professionalization toward meaningful learning. In this process we chose Office365 as our virtual environment and as part of our professionalization. We use it to make sure we are leading in our learning environment.”
Berman’s philosophy has been one of inclusion, integrated learning and training, and collaboration. As one of her teachers, Karina Bata shared in a recent Hot Topics blog post, Berman’s support has been a crucial part of helping her teachers and staff develop their 21st century teaching skills.
Here’s today’s Daily Edventure with Rachel Berman.
Can you think of a particular moment in your life when you realized education was the right field for you?
My memory takes me back to my source of inspiration, I mean back to school, to my teacher when I was 13-14 years old. To this day she is my role model. Later she became a school principal. I did practical training at her school and she has always encouraged me. She recognized my ability to move forward and to become a school principal myself.
Why do you feel passionate about innovation and technology in the classroom?
I feel passionate about innovation and technology in the classroom because I hear and see my students learning meaningful things in relevant ways for them. Finally, the school is very close to life. Students are developing life skills and I feel that I get my “mission” preparing my students for their future.
Whether it’s a day-to-day challenge or larger problem, what’s the biggest obstacle you or your country or region has had to overcome, or will have to overcome, to ensure a quality education for students?
The biggest obstacle I had to overcome was the budget for infrastructure, devices and redesigning learning spaces. The school’s pedagogical approach was built together (management team and teachers). We built a culture of learning for all, anytime and anywhere. We built a strategy plan and we are progressing according to it very well, and the municipality helps with this as well.
In terms of education innovation, what are you most excited about for the future? What is your biggest hope for today’s students?
I’m very excited about the change we are implementing at school. Teachers, as well as students, are experiencing new learning adventures. Our new learning scenarios, integrated with ICT, are raising teachers’ and students’ educational discourse in school. We are leading a new culture that empowers us all.
Principal, Gordon School
Petach Tikva, Israel
- Birthplace: Petach Tikva, Israel
- Educational background: 30 years of experience
- Website I check every day: Yammer
- Favorite childhood memory: I’ve always wanted to be a teacher because I believed that a teacher influences a child’s future.
- Favorite book: Leadership Wisdom From the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Office365, OneNote and SharePoint online.
- What is the best advice you have ever received? Believe in yourself and do not be afraid!