Yes, We Can! Palestinian-Israeli Teachers in Jewish-Israeli Schools

Published: 
2019

Source: Journal of Teacher Education

 

The goal of this study is to gain a better understanding of the experiences of Palestinian-Israeli minority teachers when teaching at majority state Hebrew secular schools in Israel. Specifically, the objective is to describe and analyze the role of the teachers’ work-related experiences in shaping their sense of self-efficacy, job satisfaction, acculturation process, and how all these affect their feelings regarding their potential role in helping break down stereotypes and misconceptions about the Palestinian-Israeli minority. Data were gathered from 15 interviewees, who described their experiences, feelings, and perspectives about their work.

Findings

Findings indicate that Palestinian-Israeli teachers experience a strong sense of self-efficacy, satisfaction, and positive relationships with students, parents, and colleagues. Participants expressed the belief that their work helps reduce prejudice and increases mutual understanding among the groups in conflict, through successful acculturation, despite some difficulties. It is suggested that stakeholders should strengthen efforts to recruit and retain these teachers, through strong administrative support.


Discussion

In this study, we focus on the experiences of Palestinian Israeli minority teachers working in State Hebrew secular schools of Israel, examining their perceptions and feelings. The goal is to describe and analyze the role of the teachers’ work-related experiences in shaping their sense of self-efficacy, job satisfaction, acculturation, and how all these affect their feelings regarding their potential role in helping break down stereotypes and misconceptions about the Palestinian-Israeli minority. We focus in this article on the direct and indirect intervention of the Palestinian teachers when they themselves undergo new experiences and changes.

Palestinian-Israeli teachers initially started working in Jewish majority schools because of the lack of job opportunities in the Arab-sector’s education system; however, they continued to work there due to a growing sense of job satisfaction and professional and personal growth.

The Palestinian teachers’ sense of satisfaction stems from their perceived success in creating positive relationships with all relevant stakeholders—colleagues, principals, students, and parents. These warm relationships have a strong effect on teachers’ feelings of belonging and motivate them to continue teaching in the schools.

This is not to say that the teachers experienced no difficulties or challenges. In their work, they encountered multiple situations (of which we believe we got reports for only a few) in which they were pressed to accommodate and at times compromise so as to be able to continue on their job.

Implications

Based on these findings, we suggest that increasing the number of Palestinian-Israeli teachers in State Hebrew schools would be beneficial for all those involved, due to the teachers’ significant contribution, not only to the schools but also to Israeli society in general, through the ripple effect. It is important to support these teachers, by offering special preparatory workshops before and during their first year of integration. Furthermore, establishing special training units in universities and in education colleges for teaching on “the other side” should be considered. Finally, the findings of this study, namely, that the practice of integrating minority teachers in majority schools is beneficial to all parties involved, as well as to the encompassing society, as a whole, is of relevance to other societies in which the relationship between the majority and minority cultures is strained.
 

Updated: Jun. 13, 2019
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