TalentEducators: Data-Driven Professional Development for Hebrew Teachers

By: Aharoni Carmel and Yael Harari

The statistics for teachers leaving the field are shocking: between 30-50% of teachers in the US resign within the first five years. Research has also indicated that the right professional development and mentoring can reduce this attrition rate significantly. That said, a one-size-fits-all approach to professional development has proven to be highly ineffective.

For this reason, at TalentEducators, after we match and place teachers in new positions, we place emphasis and resources on highly professional and personalized support for each of our newly recruited teachers. To do this, we work with the educational institution as well as the educator to build a comprehensive support plan that includes programs from many wonderful partner organizations that offer professional development. This support plan looks different for different teachers even if they are teaching the same subject – such as Hebrew – at the same school.

In our experience, there are two specific challenges that need to be addressed when supporting new Hebrew teachers in their positions: the skills involved in teaching a second language and the cultural gap that many non-native North Americans experience when teaching in a day school for the first time.

In the past two years, we placed 59 Hebrew teachers in day schools in North America and the UK. These Hebrew teachers have required different support plans depending on the school requirements, and the teacher’s education and experience:

  • Hebrew at the Center bootcamp. Hebrew at the Center offers a three day bootcamp for new Hebrew teachers. In the last two years, 16 of our North American teachers have attended this bootcamp, preparing them for the first days of school.
  • One-on-one mentoring. All of our fellows have individual mentors who meet with them once a week to coach them through pedagogical approaches as well to address on the ground issues. Many of our mentors are independent though some are through organizations such as BetterLesson, JNTP, and Hebrew at the Center.
  • Curriculum support. For schools that follow a specific curriculum, we fund our fellows participation in iTalam, B’shvil HaIvrit, and Ulpan Or professional development sessions during the summer and throughout the year.
  • Graduate degrees. For teachers who are looking for both practical pedagogy as well as academic rigor, we have funded several of our fellows MA degrees as Middlebury College in Teaching Hebrew as a Second Language.
  • Cohort. We bring our Hebrew teachers together as a cohort to share best practices, ask questions, and create a community of new Hebrew teachers. This cohort has been run by Hebrew at the Center in the past and is now run by a TE staff member who is a veteran Hebrew teacher.

In order to measure the efficacy and success of these teachers as well as the support TalentEducators provides them, we conduct surveys twice a year. Our survey results reveal that these educators’ satisfaction in their positions as well as their administrators’ approval rate is higher than that of other new teachers. On a scale of 1-5, the employers rated their satisfaction with their Hebrew teachers’ work at 4.5, as opposed to an approval rate of 3.9 for other new teachers. In addition, all of the Hebrew teachers felt that their mentors positively impacted their teaching, rating the impact as a 4.6 out of 5. More than 80% of these Hebrew teachers are still in their original position (surpassing the average retention rate even amidst the Great Resignation), and the few who have left have either moved to a new location or have been given expanded responsibilities.

During the course of this work, one of the major challenges that we encounter when working with new Hebrew teachers is the reluctance of day schools to hire teachers with little to no teaching experience. The administration worries that the cultural gap combined with inexperience will ultimately lead to failure. In our experience, focusing on potential while creating a comprehensive personalized support plan can lead to greater satisfaction and retention. There is still a significant shortage of teachers, and specifically Hebrew teachers, however, if there is a mindset shift in addition to personalized professional development and mentoring, perhaps we can slowly bridge the gap.


Aharoni Carmel is the founding CEO of TalentEducators and a veteran principal of educational institutions both in Israel and the US with over twenty years of experience in the field of education.

Yael Harari is the Chief Operating Officer of TalentEducators and has more than fifteen years of experience in the field of education: as a teacher of literature and language and as a teacher-mentor in American Jewish schools and in Israeli mechinot.