TALMA, which started out as just a small summer teaching program, has grown year after year and become a major part of my life.
I co-taught fifth graders going into sixth grade with TALMA in the Summer of 2015 and 2016 in the Jezereel Valley up North. My co-teachers each year were a little bit different and assumed different roles in the classroom - discipline, planning, parallel teaching, etc. We were living in a hotel, dorm style living with one roommate. Meals and transportation were provided. We had experiences with social entrepreneurship and professional development as teachers throughout the summer, as well planned community weekends and free weekends to explore Israel on our own. As the summer program is growing, there are new opportunities arising to teach in different areas of the country, different types of schools, and to have different experiences through this amazing program.
After my second summer with TALMA, our wonderful director proposed a new full year TALMA program, TALMA 2.0. Offered to the alumni of the summer TALMA program, TALMA 2.0 is stationed in Mitzpe Ramon in the middle of Negev of Southern Israel. 15 of us teachers moved to the middle of the desert to an area that has VERY few, if any English teachers. Each of us is in a different school, or two (as in my situation). Unlike the summer program, we work with or without co-teachers, teaching whole classes, small groups, or individual students. Apartments with laundry, wi-fi, and a wonderful apartment-mate are provided with furniture. Transportation to school is also provided for us. One of my schools is in Dimona, about a 50 minute bus ride from Mitzpe. 8 of us go together in a mini-bus that drops us off and picks us up right from our schools. We are all provided a stipend for the year to cover other expenses (food for example). Once a week we head to Be'er Sheva for Ulpan (Hebrew class), provided by the Ministry of Education. We also had the opportunity to take a course at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, learning about where we live and the populations we work with. We have community Wednesdays where we meet up with our Israeli counterparts as well to do an activity whether professional or just plain fun! We also have had a number of weekend community events outside of Mitzpe to get to know the country as a whole.
As the year is rapidly coming to a close, I have fallen in love with Israel as a country, the people, the environment, all because of my experiences with TALMA and am excited to say that I am making Aliyah at the end of the summer! I have friends now all of over Israel and I am excited to start the next chapter . . .TALMA 3.0: Morim Olim!