Sunday, August 31, 2014
Saturday, August 30, 2014
In almost everything you read today about leadership you read about the importance of Transparency. To be honest the concepts scares some people. How can a be completely open and honest? Another common idea/question is How can I be open if that happens I will loose control.
I would argue that actually by being open and honest you gain respect and build trust amongst those that you lead.
Many times people think that his concept is reserved for corporate leaders and those that lead adults. I would argue that since all teachers are leaders therefore teachers need to be open and honest with their students. The top down approach to teaching " Do it because I am the teacher " should be some thing of the past.
I also believe that by being open and honest we actually build trust and respect with our students.
How can we do that. Perhaps the answer is just Be honest and be your self. Here is a short story that happened to me recently.
Editors Note: The purpose of the story is not to brag but rather just to show the importance of being honest.
Ar a recent Bar Mitzvah ( a celebration when a Jewish boy turns 13) I was asked to speak. This class has a boy that has physical challenges. In my speech I mentioned the Talmudic saying "That I have learned the most from my students" and that I learned from this class how to accept all students and that I was actually a bit scared before teaching this class, but after seeing how they just accept everyone made it easier.
My teenage daughters said to me " You really learned something from your students, and you admitted it" I said Yes it was true.
Truth of the matter is that I just said it without much thinking but realized afterwards that perhaps students aren't used to the fact that teachers can be ( and should be) open and honest.
If we treat our students and for that matter everyone in our lives with honesty and respect we will be treated with respect in return.
Friday, August 29, 2014
A number of years ago I read the book " Angels don't leave footprints: Discovering what's right with yourself" by Rabbi Abraham J Twerski MD
The idea is that Angels have no free choice and can't grow and therefore don't leave their mark. However,we as humans who have free choice and the ability to change can and do leave our mark and we leave our footprints
At one point in my career, I wrote a yearbook message to the graduates and used this idea as the premise of my message.
Today, however, as many of us are beginning the new school year I think we should think about what footprint to do we as teachers and educators want to leave and what footprint do we want our students to leave.
I would be interesting in hearing your thoughts. Look forward to reading your comments and thoughts.
As an aside, I do want to point out that whether we want to or not we leave a footprint. If we blog, send an email, have a website those our footprints. Lets make sure the footprints we leave are ones, the others would want to follow
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
In searching my Twitter feed I came across the following tweet
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
I wrote a post a while ago that one of the great things about Twitter is that it is Professional Learning 24/7 ( for me 24/6). However, if I had to pinpoint a key learning experience I would say the Twitter chats are one of the most powerful tools for learning. The downside it that there are so many and they can be very overwhelming to someone new on twitter.
There are smaller ones and even in the larger chats I would say lurk and follow one or two people during the chats its an amazing experience.
I used to participate in a lot more chats to name some:
I even founded a chat with a few friends #jedchat- A chat for Jewish educators.
I understand the need to have many different chats,but at the same time we can all learn from each other. So I invite you all to join tonight's #JEDCHAT at 10pm ET as we discuss new ideas for the school year all are welcome to attend and share.
My hope is to once again become more active in the other chats mentioned
As if that wasn't enough I would like to start two other chats.
One a monthly chat related to the blog challenge I created for people to share and be inspired. Not sure if one exists and looking for a time and a good name
The second is a chat related to meeting the needs of more of our students through technology and differentiation Again, not sure one exists and open to a name and time
Please comment and share your ideas
Monday, August 25, 2014
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Saturday, August 23, 2014
- Differentiated Instruction
- The use of Technology to help meet the needs of all learners
- Making the learning real and relevant
- Student centered learning
- Teachers as the guide on the side and not the sage on the stage
- Engaged learners
Friday, August 22, 2014
Following are six tips to guide you in preparing your students for what they're likely to face in the years and decades to come.
1. Teach Collaboration as a Value and Skill Set
Students of today need new skills for the coming century that will make them ready to collaborate with others on a global level. Whatever they do, we can expect their work to include finding creative solutions to emerging challenges.
2. Evaluate Information Accuracy
3. Teach Tolerance
4. Help Students Learn Through Their Strengths
Children are born with brains that want to learn. They're also born with different strengths -- and they grow best through those strengths. One size does not fit all in assessment and instruction.
5. Use Learning Beyond the Classroom
6. Teach Students to Use Their Brain Owner's Manual"
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Monday, August 18, 2014
I think I have mentioned this before and I know in one post I used a copy of my Kindle screen to show you what I was reading. If you would look at my Kindle, and my bookshelves you will find that they are predominantly made of up books about education and leadership. While I have also written that CEO's and educators are very different at the same time the need for teachers and educators to be leaders is super important, and the qualities needed to be a good leader more often than not are the same to be a good educator. Once again, my leadership PLN has supported this theory. Frank Sonnenberg's post titled "Leadership Scorecard" mentions key qualities of a great leader. As you look at the list these same qualities are what make good educators and teacher leaders.
Here are some of the qualities mentioned in the post
" Straightforward and transparent • Honest and trustworthy • Ethical and principled • Focused • Determined • Realistic • Decisive and action-oriented • Fair and open-minded • Knowledgeable and experienced • Consistent and dependable • Confident and optimistic • Passionate • Empathetic and selfless • Flexible • Humble • Courageous • Hardworking"
I am sure there are others, but I think this is a great place to start. Let us remember that we are all leaders and the qualities that make up great leaders make great educational leaders as well.
Friday, August 15, 2014
This is a post I wrote almost three years ago in February of 2012. The funny part is some of what I wrote then is still important and applies today
I would like to share some personal thoughts and reflections. I think it is important and it is something that we can all learn from. Even if we can't learn from it it may be helpful and therapeutic for me to put my thoughts in writing.
The last two weeks have been very difficult for me. There have been a number of issues that I have had to deal with and in the words of Todd Whitaker "I have a lot of Monkeys on my back" ( I happen to be in the middle of reading his book with a similar title "Shifting the Monkey") I have not finished the book but at times and especially this week my feeling has been “if I didn't step up or do something then at the end of the day it would be the students that suffer” and that is something no matter how many ‘Monkeys’ I have I am not willing to let happen.
Again I was faced with that question of balance and how to deal with these issues and not get down or upset?
As I am fond of doing I like reading the writing of Lord Rabbi Sacks and when I checked out his website on Friday I found the following article. "Ways to achieve happiness beginning with thank you"
In this article Lord Rabbi Sacks outlines four ways to accomplish happiness.
Here are his thoughts:
"First, thank. Don’t just thank God: thank people. There is almost nothing you can do to bring warmth into someone else’s life than simple, honest recognition for something they have done, especially if it’s the kind of thing most people take for granted. Do it for your children’s teachers, your work colleagues, the person at the checkout counter, anyone who does the kind of work we often call “thankless.”
If you have a spare moment – you’re waiting in a queue somewhere – think back to someone who, many years ago, made a positive difference to your life and whom you didn’t thank at the time: a teacher who inspired you, perhaps, or a friend who gave you good advice or lifted you when you were low. Write to them and tell them so. This one act can transform a life, and giving a satisfaction to others is the best way of finding it yourself. Remember Paul McCartney’s words in Abbey Road: The love you take is equal to the love you make. Ditto for happiness.
Second, resolve to be active not passive. Be a doer, not a complainer. Light a candle, don’t curse the darkness. Don’t criticise leaders: lead. Don’t wait for something to happen: help bring it about. Life is too short to be a spectator rather than a player. So, sit less, exercise more. Drive less, walk more. Neuro scientists have made the heartening discovery that physical exertion renews our brain cells. It actually keeps us mentally as well as physically young. It also produces the endorphins that fight depression and produce exhilaration. Moses Maimonides, the twelfth century rabbi who was also one of the leading physicians of his day, held that keeping fit was a religious duty. God gave us life and we honour Him by using it to the full.
Third, be part of a community. There is something trans formative about being part of a group who pray, celebrate, remember and hope together. If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a community to reach a full flowering of happiness. Virtual communities linked by smart-phones are no substitute for real face-to-face encounter. Community is where our grief is halved and our joy doubled by being shared with others.
Fourth, make a thorough clear-out of negative emotions. Apologise to those you’ve wronged, and forgive those who have wronged you. Emotional energy is too precious to waste it on guilt on the one hand, resentment on the other."
These ideas really spoke to me.
I would like to express a Thank you to my family and friends for their constant support,advice and help. I would also like to thank all the teachers for all that they do on a daily basis on behalf of their students.
The second idea spoke to me even more during this current crisis. Complaining and criticizing others isn't going to accomplish anything and yes, it may make me feel better but at the end of the day it will not accomplish. So As Rabbi Saks pointed out I just need to lead. I will admit easier said than done.
His last idea is one that I have a tough time with. The need to move on and put out those negative feelings. Even harder but more important is to forgive those that have wronged you. As I was reminded by a friend that is doesn't do any good to worry about things that are out of our control.
I am by no means perfect and some these ideas while very true are easier said than done and it probably won't make me feel any better but I know that the way I feel now is nor healthy for me, my family and especially my students.
This weekend marks the 34th anniversary of my Bar Mitzvah. The portion we read this week is the same one I read when I was 13. Therefore today's blog is related to this weeks Torah portion. When I look for insights on the weekly portion I look towards Rabbi Sacks for his insights since they are far better than mine.
This weeks article "To Lead is to Listen" is once again spot on.
Let me share with you some of Rabbi Sacks' words:
" There is no single English word that means to hear, to listen, to heed, to pay attention to, and to obey. Sh-m-a also means “to understand,” as in the story of the tower of Babel, when God says, Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand [yishme’u] each other” (Gen. 11: 7).
As I have argued elsewhere, one of the most striking facts about the Torah is that, although it contains 613 commands, it does not contain a word that means “to obey.” When such a word was needed in modern Hebrew, the verble-tzayet was borrowed from Aramaic. The verb used by the Torah in place of “to obey” is sh-m-a. This is of the highest possible significance. It means thatblind obedience is not a virtue in Judaism. God wants us to understand the laws He has commanded us. He wants us to reflect on why this law, not that. He wants us to listen, to reflect, to seek to understand, to internalise and to respond. He wants us to become a listening people.