Over the course of this Initiative a model emerged – a framework of essential strategies that combined to create success. We describe within this section the resources and the processes that contributed and, we believe, will contribute to success.
The following are essential elements of the BASIS model:
- People in the School
- Communal Infrastructure
The individual responsible for coordinating Israel education in the school is the single most important person in determining success in the school. As one Head of School reported:
“The coordinator was the rudder of this ship and was able to keep track of all the different aspects and participants of this project and could see the entire picture.”
The coordinator must have sufficient time, resources, authority and credibility to drive the initiative in the school. We recommend funding for 8-12 hours per week. The Avi Chai study describes the importance of a coordinator with authority and influence.
While not as involved day-to-day, the Head of School, as the professional leader of the school community, exerts his/her leadership to advance the goals of this initiative. The Head of School must “back” the Coordinator, lending authority and credibility to that position, and use the Head’s “bully pulpit” to reinforce to all stakeholders the importance of Israel education to the mission of the school.
Schools created Leadership Teams to establish school vision for Israel education. Because BASIS involved change and participation across diverse school community stakeholders, a Leadership Team representing those diverse stakeholder groups (administration, Board, faculty, parents, and, for secondary schools, students) helped school community buy-in. As one school leader reported:
“The Leadership Team allowed for a shared vision and one that represented all people in our school.”
Developing Israel curriculum consistent with the school vision was the most challenging task for the BASIS schools. A curriculum design team – comprising faculty across multiple disciplines, worked with BASIS consultants to create a scope and sequence for the school.
As one school leader reported: “This team serves as an important bridge [among] the disciplines and ensures that the curricular engagement is proactive, relevant, and connected.”
To achieve the outcomes BASIS seeks, most schools require significant support. We refer to this support as “communal scaffolding” or infrastructure – an agency that can provide technical assistance, professional development, Israel education content knowledge, and “network-weaving” or community-building support across schools.
In Northern California, the appropriate agency was Jewish LearningWorks (formerly the Bureau of Jewish Education), the central agency for Jewish education. This central agency was able to provide or procure a management backbone, grant administration and reporting, and a team of consultants with relevant expertise.
Much of the work was carried on the shoulders of educational specialists who provided consultation, technical support, and professional development services to school leaders and educators. These include:
During the visioning phase at the outset of the Initiative, Organizational Development consultants facilitated a visioning process involving key stakeholder groups in the school. The outcome of this process was a documented Israel education school vision. This document formed the basis and the starting point for the curriculum.
The Curriculum Design Consultant brought expertise in curriculum development,Israel content, and pedagogy. The consultant guided the curriculum team as they developed a scope and sequence document for the school.
Because Israel travel plays such an important role in Israel education, an educational consultant assisted schools in developing best practices in organizing Israel travel. This included effective use of encounters with Israelis embedded into the travel program and a rigorous approach to integrating the travel and encounters with the school’s vision and curriculum.
Several schools partnered with a school “twin” in Israel. The consultant also provided expertise in developing and managing this relationship to optimal educational impact.
The Arts & Culture consultant helped schools integrate music, literature, poetry, dance, drama, and visual arts into the Israel education curriculum. This also involved integrating Israel education into those areas of study.
The educational resources consultant brought a broad knowledge of educational resources available – in books, articles, DVDs, and online.
The resources consultant also offered technical assistance and training in use of the Atlas curriculum mapping program. A part of the curriculum development process involved mapping the curriculum as it was, and mapping how various aspects of of the scope and sequence relate with each other. A proprietary software instrument was used for this purpose. The curriculum mapping consultant offered professional development classes in the use of this software and ongoing technical assistance.
In addition to the consultants listed above, each school was offered an Israel education coach (mancheh in Hebrew). This was a consultant whose expertise was considered to be a good match for the needs of the school. In some schools, the coach contributed to the visioning process, in most, the coach was involved in the development of the scope and sequence. In some instances, the coach provided specific expertise relevant to the specific educational strategies employed in the school, such as Arts & Culture. Coaches also provided consultation in mapping and pedagogy (Understanding by Design) and also helped in curriculum development.
These manchim also participated in community-wide professional development programs – offering seminars and workshops for educators from multiple schools.
In addition to the overall leadership and supervision provided by the central agency’s management team, BASIS was led and supported by two key individuals:
The director worked closely with the educational consultants and with the school coordinators and teams. She provided overall leadership and vision for the initiative, and she recruited consultants and manchim. The director was responsible for communications with the schools, the consultants, and the funder.
The director selected and/or approved the assignment of manchim to the schools. She also approved the grants to schools for Israel education projects. This involved the director’s collaboration and consultation with the schools, assisting them in the development of their project plans.
The director was also responsible for reporting to the funder. This included updates on school progress in achieving outcomes, annual reports on the initiative’s outcomes, and financial/budgetary reporting to the foundation.
The BASIS Director facilitated the Community of Practice of Israel Education Coordinators.
The BASIS Director also served, along with the agency CEO, as the public face of the initiative and often represented the initiative to the public – community leaders, philanthropists, and school leaders.
- Grants Administrator
The BASIS Director was supported by an administrator. In addition to providing general administrative support for the initiative, this individual was responsible for administering, tracking, accounting for, and reporting on the flow of funds to the schools and the activities the schools pursued with those funds.
- Advisory Committee
A lay committee was appointed to provide external guidance to the BASIS leadership. The advisory committee included community volunteers with expertise in education, Israel, community and public relations, and fundraising. The committee also comprised representatives of key stakeholder groups, including some lay leaders from the schools, the community federation, and the Israeli consulate. Two heads of schools also served in an ex officio capacity on the committee.
This group convened twice a year.