Tu Bishvat, the Holiday of Trees, marks the halfway point for the school year in Israel. It is also around the time that schools here distribute midyear report cards.
The holiday gives us a perfect opportunity to take a look at another great project of our educators' Kibbutz, the Humanity, Society & Nature High School in Karmiel, which adopts an alternative qualitative approach to the idea of midyear evaluation through an innovative student-led exhibition. The exhibition is composed entirely of displays prepared by the students themselves in order to encapsulate their year so far – their experiences, understandings, thoughts – and to present them through a series of projects and creations.
Moreover, the school invites the students’ parents, guests, other teaches in the city and the wider public to view the exhibition.
Hadas Feldman, a member of the Akko Educators’ Kibbutz and the principal of the high school, said: “It’s amazing to see our students stand in front of the city’s most senior educational figures and explain to them about dialogue, about what it means to learn as part of a team and not alone, and how they’ve created exhibits out of what they learn at school that demonstrate their understandings, while also demonstrating the way the teaching practice and learning process are interwoven as one. When I see the confidence with which my students stand up to explain the content that we taught them – that’s my measure for successful educational processes.”
The midyear exhibition is not a one-off phenomenon in the school landscape. Rather, it is an inseparable part of the ongoing dialogue-based alternative student evaluation process. The teachers also prepare midyear report cards for the students, but these reports are also written through dialogue with the students – based on a series of conversations between the teachers and students that reflect on their place with regard to the learning process – socially, educationally, and as part of the group. The report car is thus not a “strike” or a “fine”, but rather a product of a joint evaluation process that provides a deep reflection of the student’s educational and emotional development.
The midyear student exhibition will soon open to the wider public, many of whom are already familiar with the event and wait for it in anticipation every year. Other visitors, be they students, teachers, municipal academic staff, security officers, the mayor of Carmiel or the minister of education, may be surprised to find that those leading them through the exhibition will be the students themselves.
Another reflection of the school’s pioneering pedagogical approach can be seen in other projects that constitute a national pilot program based on the school’s dialogical approach to teaching. The Humanity, Society & Nature High School has been greenlighted to develop innovating new educational frameworks. It is inspiring to see the school’s success and innovation resonating on a national level.