The 2010 IRA Literacy Delegation to Israel emphasized domestic and international discussions and collaborations about literacy, language, and reading education. This delegation, IRA’s first partnership with Academic Professionals, provided opportunities for IRA members to gain insight into literacy education in Israel, connect to leading Israeli education professionals including the Israel Reading Association, reflect on individual literacy practices, and develop valuable professional relationships with IRA members around the world. Delegates also experienced captivating cultural and historical aspects of Israel.
During organized professional meetings, delegates talked with Israeli educators in a variety of positions and observed literacy practices in diverse educational settings. Delegation leader, Dr. Taffy Raphael, stated “I gained new insights about the complexity of learning in multiple languages and about the role of language and literacy in educational contexts including colleges of teacher education, transition communities for new immigrants, the ministry of education, and the military.”
Positive outcomes of the delegation included exchanging ideas and designing collaborations within the delegation and between delegates and Israeli literacy educators. Delegate member, Pamela Totten-Alvarado, reported on forming “a partnership with Alon High School and RJ Kinsella Magnet School of Performing Arts in Hartford, Ct. It is … our vision that the students from both schools will embrace each other’s passion for the arts through the use of technology and growing to hosting and traveling to each other’s campuses to collaborate, create and perform.”
Delegates recognized shared challenges and goals of literacy education. Dr. Twyla Miranda commented, “… we are similar - we want all learners to be thoughtful, life-long readers.” Dr. Pamela Mason noted the trip “underscored the challenges that all literacy educators need to address, … recognizing the cultural and linguistic capital that our students bring to literacy learning.” Delegates indicated their experiences were personally and professionally rewarding, likely to inspire them for years to come.