Sharing ideas on Education, Leadership and Life

Thursday, October 29, 2015



Well, for those of you that have been following my blog you will notice that the blog has a new name. You probably also noticed that I haven't  blogged in a very long time. I recently connected with someone who joined my 30 Day Blog Challenge on Facebook and got the inspiration to start blogging again. 

So what with the new name?  Well, after 20 years in Education I am transitioning to the field of Executive Search Recruiting. Recruiting is really at its core  is being a matchmaker. Connecting People and helping them reach and maximize their professional potential. Well, isn't that we as Parents and Educators ( and former educators)  want for  their children and students.  I have written before about the importance of making connections and the value that people have, how important our family, friends, and network are to us. This idea that networking and making personal connections is crucial is probably more  important to me now than ever before.  

Even with a new name  for my blog, and  a new career, I am still the same old me. The same values and ideas that I have written about are still true today and some may even be more important. 

So what does it mean to network and be connected? 

There are a number of ways:

You can follow me on twitter at  and LinkedIn 

I also have been tweeting and posting on behalf of the Joel Paul Group so follow us on 
and like our Facebook Page 

I am looking forward to Connecting with All of You ! 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Embracing Change


This was my first post I wrote on LinkedIN and I am reposting it here

I don't want to get into a political debate or to discuss last week's debate, but the idea of change is something that is one every ones mind almost every day. While we are big talkers most of us want the change to just to happen. We often hope that when we wake up in the morning things would have changed on their own. This is true because in reality we don't like change, and we dont want to change and when it comes down to it we are afraid of change.

Change is scary! There are said it. At the same time we need to embrace change!

We wouldn't go to a doctor that hasn't changed and updated his practice and isn't aware of the latest in medical science. Imagine walking into a school that was using text books form 1950's ( OK maybe a bad example) But I think you get my point. Change is around us and we need to embrace it.

Both on a professional level and on a personal level I consider myself to be a change agent and one that embraces change .

On a personal level, five years ago i started blogging, and started becoming active on twitter and I embraced the uses of social media and technology. I also became much more of an avid reader and life long learner. These changes and ideas changed the type of educator I was and had a positive effect on my professional career.

Then the biggest change to both my personal and professional life. I resigned as a Head of School to start my own consulting business. Now that's scary and it still is. I am not regretting or complaining but starting your own business is not easy. So while I am still working on spreading the word about educational change and inclusion, I made another change. I joined The Joel Paul Group as a Senior Consultant. So your thinking now whats he doing taking on another type of job and another change. In reality I don't think so. My work with The Joel Paul Group is focused on helping organizations grow and change and as Jim Collins says, " have the right people on the bus in the right seats" , and help those individual change and grow so that they can be the right people in the right seats. My work with education is very similar.

Bottom Line I see myself as one that can help others embrace the change that is needed to grow and reach their personal potential, their organizations potential or seeing students reach their potential.

How can we or even better yet How did I embrace change? So after doing some reading ( you can see some of these articles posted on my Facebook page and LinkedIN) It boils down to the following ( in my honest opinion) :





As with anything in life and with any type of collaboration or working with people there needs to be trust. Really trust is a basic requirement in almost everything we do

Listening and Asking Questions- Honestly this is a bit harder. most people especially consultants, I will admit, think they have all the answers and they know what is best. WRONG! No one can no the unique culture of your organization. Therefore listening and learning about the organization and the individual is important. Listening to someone also shows you care about them and you truly want to help. what better way to show that you want to learn and that you care than by asking questions. we need to ask questions like How and Why and not come in with all the answers but be willing to ask what do you need?, how can I help you? and then listen for the answers.

Finally empathy. Change is scary and we need to understand that and embrace that emotion as we embrace change. Its people that are the ones that effect the change and people have feelings and we need as change agents and leaders understand that.

So while a lot on the surface has changed in my life in life in reality very little has. I am still a life long learner always learning and I am a people person wanting and hoping to help people embrace the change that is necessary for organizational and personal growth.

I look forward for the opportunity and the chance to EMBRACE CHANGE WITH YOU.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015



WOW it has almost been a month since I last blogged. Here I thought I had gotten better. So much for thinking. However what we think and what attitude we have such an effect on our performance, production and overall mood. While I know I haven't been blogging it didn't bother as me since I still felt productive and that I was networking and making the connections with people.

I find it at times uncanny how I often find an article that speaks to what I have been thinking or that sums up my mood and ideas. Today was no different when I came across the following article.

"7 Disciplines of A Leader" This is a post on Skip Prichard's blog about Jeff Wolf's book "7 Disciplines of a Leader"

Here a some highlights or keys for me from this post:

  • " Companies place the wrong leadership in the job 82 percent of the time.” –Forbes"
  • Attitude Matters and Leaders need to have a Great Attitude - " It’s important for leaders to be positive and have a great attitude ....You can always teach skills, but you cannot always teach people how to be positive; they either have a great attitude or they don’t."
  • " Leadership is not rocket science. It comes down to living and leading by the golden rule: Do unto others as you want them to do unto you."
  • "For a quick impact, work to understand what your people want, not just what you want,"
  • Asking the right Questions - We need to asking others not telling others What can I do to make you happier here? How can I be a better leader for you to be successful? What resources do you need that you currently don’t have ? Do you feel appreciated and receive the praise and recognition you feel you deserve?
  • " Recruit and hire people who fit the culture and brand and empower them. "
  • "You can’t lead without inspiring people to do great things."
Seven Takeaways for Seven Disciplines.

These truly are the Keys and important things that we need to remember. As Leaders, potential leaders, consultants who are helping find or create future leaders, we need to inspire others and our attitude is contagious both for good and for bad. Perhaps the biggest takeaway is that its not about ME, of This is What I do, But rather How can I help YOU, What Do you Need!

How many times have e heard leaders say well its OK I a not the classroom teacher and what I do won't have an effect. Or leaders that say this what i have accomplished in "X" years and therefore.....or finally They just won't change and nothing seems to inspire them.
These are statements made by those that don't understand true leadership.

In any walk of life there are always people that are looking up to us and therefore we are all Leaders so remember that your attitude matters and we all need to be inspired but more importantly inspire others.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Full Court Press; Giving It Your All

I haven't blogged in a while and I need to refocus my efforts to blogging more. However the last few weeks have been busy.
I have new focus / outlook wing regarding to my consulting business ( and I recently joined the Joel Paul Group as a Senior Consultant.
Here is the announcement email I sent out.

       I am pleased to inform you that I recently joined the Joel Paul Group, as a Senior Consultant.  
The Joel Paul Group is an executive search & consulting firm that deals exclusively, with not for profit organizations and educational institutions nationwide. We have successfully aided many institutions in identifying exceptionally talented senior professionals and top administrators.

My goal is to help further the role we play in communal life and in educating the future leaders of tomorrow.

Please feel free to email or call me if I can be of help to you, your institution, or organization.
All the Best 

Akevy Greenblatt, Senior Consultant  | The Joel Paul Group |255 West 36th Street, Suite 502, New York, NY 10018 I Office 212.564.6500 Ext 213  | Fax 212.868.2671 | 

So whats the new outlook. Not really all that new but rather a new focus thanks to an executive coach.

That is until you give it 100% and make personal connections and actual meet and speak with people you haven't Given IT YOUR ALL!

It has given me a renewed energy and feeling as well as a number of possibly opportunities for bigger and better things to come.

Then I saw the following tweet:

Kim Garst ‏@kimgarst 23m

You have 3 choices...give up, give in OR give it ALL YOU GOT! What's it going to be?

I think we all go through those first two stages sometimes, and that is human nature especially when you have been put down and are feeling low but the key is to make sure you get to choice three and you GIVE IT ALL YOU GOT! If you don't get there you will never know how successful you may have been. 

This new focus has taught me a few things :
  • Never say Never until you have given it your all 
  • People and making connections matter 
  • Most people are good and want to hep 
  • At the end of the day it's who you are and not what you are that matters.YOU MATTER as my friend Angela Maiers  has taught 
Today as leaders, teachers, parents, you name it your skills, your character, and how you deal with people and relate to people will always be important no matter your role and what your position is.


Looking forward to meeting and making personal connections with you


Wednesday, June 3, 2015


picture by: amazon

I an currently reading the book "Learning by Choice" by A.J. Juliani. Here is a quote from the book that really spoke to me.

    Rick Wormeli, author of Fair Isn’t Always Equal, has a view on “Redoing work” hit home for me on so      many different levels: If we do not allow students to redo work, we deny the growth mindset so vital to student maturation, and we are declaring to the student: -this assignment has no legitimate educational value -it’s okay if you don’t do this work -it’s okay if you don’t learn this content or skill None of these is acceptable to the highly accomplished, professional educator." Juliani, A.J. (2015-04-01). Learning By Choice

So this idea of Wormeli also spoke to me on many different levels. I have often asked myself what is the purpose of homework? what does a letter grade mean and what is the purpose of giving a zero. 
Each of these ideas deserves its own post and many have written and spoken about each of these ideas and topics. 
I have my own ideas as well but I think Wormeli really ties it all together and gives it a common denominator. We need to ask "Does this have Educational Value" to everything we do and the answer needs to be YES!
Time is valuable and we shouldn't be wasting our time or that of our students.  

There is another underlying idea to his quote and that is that as educators we need to model and teach some of those more amorphous type skills and ideas like growth mindset and critical thinking etc. Students learn more by doing and from our actions and what we value than from what we actual teach. 

There is only part of the quote which I take exception to. The ideas mentioned in the quote, the importance  of time, and teaching and modeling are basics and crucial and not doing it is just not acceptable of any educator.  I would argue by definition all educators are professional and we wouldn't accept anything less. 

There is a great quote that says " Teach and Be the Teacher that you would want your own kids to have" 

If we use the this criteria along with Does this have educational value we will never have the issues that Wormeli discusses ( At least we can hope !) 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Those Other Skills


About two weeks ago I attended a symposium sponsored by SHEMESH, a local organization who brought Dr Rona Novick in to speak about social skills. 

I am currently reading Teach Like a Pirate, that at least in the beginning focuses on the importance of creativity and passion. 

Something struck me about social skills, passion and creativity, there seemed to be a common denominator between them all. Most people would agree that all three are important and our students need to possess all there but for many these three things seem to be different than other skills that we teach and for some reason people assume either you have passion, you are creative or you are social. 

That's not true! As Burgess says in his "Six Words" story there is no such thing as saying "But you are creative". We all can be and need to be creative. 

Dr Novick said the following regarding social skills;

Social skills is a journey. It is something we must have however it is hard to measure and the journey is different and unique for each child. However it is a skill that is teachable, learnable and can be taught like other skills.
When it comes to social skills we are ever done and really never reach our destination. It is ongoing and ever changing and all moments are teachable moments.
I believe creativity and passion re the same and require teaching repetition and reinforcement.

It does take a certain mindset to think more creatively and we all now those highly passionate people or those social butterflies.

What we need to remember that these people don't have any super powers nor are they different from you and me. They put the time and effort to learn a skill like one would learn math or a second language.

Below are two tweets I tweeted about creativity from the book "Teach Like a Pirate" I think it sums this idea.

" Creativity is not [limited2]some special class of individuals, but ...can b nurtured& developed in all of us— including your Ss" Burgess0 retweets0 favorites

"For most of us, creative genius is developed through hard work, directed attention& relentless engagement in the creative process" Burgess



Monday, May 4, 2015

Back To Basics


The curfew has now been lifted in Baltimore and hopefully things can return to somewhat normal. There are many takeaways from the events of the last week, and I am sure the pundits and talking heads have covered them. I would like to focus on my personal takeaways and I am sure others have said this as well but it is an important reminder.

It happened now what can we learn from the experience of the events from the last week? What can we as educators and parents learn from these events?

To me the answer is simple, and that is we need to sometimes GO BACK TO BASICS!

What do I mean. Well in my last post I mentioned how technology will never replace the teacher, which is true. We also seem to live in a generation where social media seems to set the norms and we talk in 140 characters or in abbreviations.

While there many be many benefits to technology, social media and living in such a fast world we need to remember the basics.

Some of those basic include but are not limited to:

  • Common Sense and decency
  • Respect 
  • Building  relationships and friendships
  • A sense of community
  • Responsibility
The last I check a computer cant teach these basic and important skills. Rather this is the responsibility of Teachers, Parents, Clergy, and other Role models. 

I wrote a blog a while ago that got a lot of push back when I said the role of the teachers is 24/7. What I meant is that we ( parents as well) are role models and our students and children are always watching us and what we do. 

Yes we lived in unprecedented times with information at our finger tips and things happen in real time like never before but if we are going to learn anything from the events of the last week we need to take a step back and slow down if you will and take the time t teach, instill, and more importantly model these basic ideas for our students and children. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Motivation and Inspiration Require Teachers


Today almost every article on education some how talks about or is related to educational technology. I do am I supporter and believer in the benefits that technology can provide to enhance learning.  However let me be clear technology will no and should not replace the teacher.

Teachers are what and who matter. Teachers are the ones that create that personal connection and instill the love of learning in our students.  If technology is the number one topic then the 1A topic is creativity and innovation and here there is no doubt that those important skills can not be instilled and taught via technology but rather need that teacher interaction.

I was flipping through my Fipboard ( sorry for the pun ) and I saw an article written two years ago.

"Tech Isn’t Everything – Teachers Are! "

The words and sentiment expressed two years ago are even more important today!

The author expresses the point beautifully and I encourage you to read the whole article here are some highlights from the post:

"Teachers have always been and are always going to be the driving force in education. 
Teachers are on the front-lines with their sleeves rolled up, working closely with their students. 
Teachers have the power to motivate, inspire and instill a love of learning onto their students. 
In the school community, teachers have a direct influence on the children. No one else has more power to engage students in order to ignite learning.
Tech can assist in this, but it CANNOT do it alone. Teachers are the driving force behind these technological advances. They are the ones activating the apps, depressing the keys on their laptops and logging in.
And as the technology revolution in education expands and grows, we must never forget this!" 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My R & R ; Reflections and Ramblings


Over the last few days I have had the opportunity to have some meaningful discussions about educators. These discussions caused me to reflect on a number of different things and therefore I may ramble a bit.

Inevitably whether its on Facebook, Twitter or in person you can't escape the topics of blended learning, ed tech,  and online learning.

All of these topics are important and  I just wanted to share some of my reflections  with you from these conversations.

There are some important factors to keep in mind with all of these concepts and ideas.

  • Student Learning is the priority
  • Technology serves as an accelerator but pedagogy is the driver
  • Learning and lessons need to be meaningful 
  • Collaboration, critical thinking, ask questions etc Life skills or what others call 21st century skills are more important than merely knowing the facts 
  • Students need to understand that they are part of a global world and making goal connections are important 
Technology can provide and help with all of these and enhance the learning experience. However the education and learning goals need to drive the use of technology and using technology for its own sake is not effective and often can be counter productive.

While I understand and know what many refer to as the tuition crisis again this can't and shouldn't be what drives the use of technology in our schools. Student learning and learning goals come first. No educator would suggest ( at least in private schools)  a class size of 30-40 because it saves money. There it is clear it goes against educational norms and best practice. The same has to be taken into account when discussion a schools use of technology 

Those are my quick reflections and ramblings. 

Monday, April 6, 2015



This past Friday night began the holiday of Passover. Perhaps one of the most famous elements of the  Passover holiday is the Seder night, when we read the Haggada and retell and perhaps even relive our Exodus from Egypt. The Seder night is based on the idea that we are told to tell over the story to our children and when our children ask we should tell them. The Haggadah also mentions the idea of Four Sons and one of the more common interpretations of these sons is based on Maimonides idea "Chanoch L'nar Al Pi Darco", educated each child according to his needs. In other words differentiate.

Each Year I try to read a new commentary on the Haggadah and this year I have been reading, "The Jonathan Sacks Haggada" with commentary and essays written by Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. Through his ideas I believe that the Seder night holds a guide for us as parents and educators alike on how to educate our children.  Rabbi Sacks writes; "Abraham was chosen to in order to be a parent. He was also chosen to be an educator. The two concepts so different in many societies,.... are in Judaism inseparable."

We all the know the importance of having children ask  questions and that through questions and critical thinking we come to a deeper sense of learning. Rabbi Sacks adds that asking  a question shows a willingness to learn and when one asks that are in a way preparing themselves to receive the answer. 

As much as the Four questions are linked to the Four sons there is a reason the Rabbis created a standard text for all children to read at the Seder. Rabbi Sacks points out that we also need to remember that all children are precious. 

While this seems obvious I think if we are truly honest with ourselves we are all human and at times can favorite certain children over others, even unintentionally. I remember once I had a graduate student observe one of my classes for a paper she was writing and she was recording different statistics. She told me afterwards that I tended to call on the boys more often than the girls. I was very surprised as I always tired to be fair and call on my students equally. Remembering each child is unique and special is an important reminder.

As a Judaic teacher we often struggle with making the ancient texts relevant today. Rabbi Sacks I believe gives us an insight into this  as well. He adds that by telling we are not just reviewing what happened but it engraves it more in he memory.  Each year we add out own insights and new ideas so that we connect the past with the present. Therefore there is this constant renewal.

There is much written about the four sons and the purpose of this post is not to go into all the commentaries and ideas. I would like to share one thought mentioned in Rabbi Saks Haggada that I believe is important for educators.

" Wisdom in Judaism is not a state, but a process of constant learning. That is why it lies as much in  the question one asks as in the answers. Every answer is itself a prelude to a deeper question , and thus there is constant growth as we move to new levels of understanding." 

One of the hot topic today is project based learning and experiential learning and here too the Haggada by saying that we need to reel the story at the Seder night and not at the start of the month is because that is when we have the Matzoh and Marror before us.  Rabbi Sacks adds " The Torah however establishes a fundamental rule about how to pass values onto the next generation: tell the story while you are doing the deed.....Values are caught not taught. They are communicated by what we do more than by what we say."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Actions No Words

I like most people have been moved and at the same time riveted  to my Facebook feed following  the latest details of the Sassoon tragedy. 

at least from at this time there is no  response. The Torah tells us that after Aharon's two sons were killed it says "VaYidom Aharon" Aharon was silent. Many commentators say that his silence was the his response and the appropriate response at that time. 

At the same time many of us want to do something. Maybe by doing something we feel we can give this tragedy some meaning or honor those seven pure souls now in heaven. 

It could be that we want to do something out go guilt. 

I know that G-D has a plan even if we don't understand or know the reason, but it still doesn't make sense so by doing something we can maybe give it some meaning.  Secondly at least for me it reminds me  that we  shouldn't take anything for granted. And finally  here  I am complaining and  feeling bad that my business hasn't taken off and I have been out of work for over year.  That all seems trivial in light of this tragedy. Thank G-D my family is well we have roof over heads and food on the table.

Therefore I too felt that actions at this time would speak louder than words. 

Here are posts that I posted on Facebook starting on Sunday up until today ( Thursday):

" There are no words and therefore perhaps this tragedy requires action. Firstly I think it behooves everyone myself included to check and make sure that our smoke detectors are in working order and second maybe for the week of shiva we take on a mitzvah/ good deed or action. For me it may be recognizing the good.As we are about to celebrate pesach there are many lessons we learn from Moshe and one was hakarat hatov. I rarely write a post like this but perhaps there is another lesson we can learn from Moshe and that kavod malchut the honor he showed to paroah. I don't agree with a lot that president Obama has done with regard to Israel but he is still the president and certain cartoons etc here on Facebook have been in my opinion a bit over the top. If Moshe could show respect and honor to paroah we should do the same. As the saying goes if u have nothing nice to say,say nothing. Let's take some positive action in memory of these children and may Hashem give the parents and surviving sister the strength to overcome both physically and emotionally.

As a follow up to my post on the tragedy in Brooklyn. I would like to express my Hakarat Hatov ( gratitude) to all the first responders both Locally and Nationally including Shomrim and Hatzalah. As far as an action goes I gave money for "fill the boot" campaign to help the Pikesville FD

As I continue with my theme this week of Hakarat Hatov, recognizing the good as a response the Tragedy in Brooklyn I wanted to thank my family and friends for all their support. Too often we forget to thank the people that mean the most. Check out my bog and my two last posts about friendship and saying thank you, Remember that ‪#‎YouMatter‬ thank you Angela Maiers for spreading the message of You Matter

Continuing with recognizing the good and being thankful, I wanted to recognize my PLN ( my learning network ) True many of them are friends but I wanted to thank them for their inspiration. Their inspiration and support has helped me become not only a better educator but a better person as well. I hope and pray that Mr Sassoon, his wife and daughter can find their inspiration and support to help them during these difficult days.

This really should have been my first post in my series of Gratitude and Thanks. I think G-D for that he has given to me. Even during hard and difficult times I know there is a reason and as I look around I know I am truly lucky. At times I do get down ad upset but I am thankful. I read excerpts of an interview Mr Sassoon gave I don't even want to think about how i would react but he said his children are angles I think for him to have the outlook he has etc he must posses some of those special angelic qualities as well.

I continue with my posts about Hakarat Hatov! Even though there may be certain issues with current US foreign policy and the attitude of the current administration towards Israel, I think we need to always remember that while we wait and hope for Moshiach everyday we are lucky to live in a country the affords us such freedom. We need to be thankful and recognize the liberties we are given.:

 Tell your friends how much they mean to you, tell the people you love, that you love them and give your kids and extra hug tonight because we should take nothing for granted.

I found the following quote in repose to the Sandy Hook tragedy. While the situation here is different the fact that our actions need to befitting of who we and that we are descendants of Avraham. I have to say if our actions could model those of Mr Sassoon we would all be OK

"We must feel the pain of our fellow Americans; we must beseech Hashem (G-D) to end this plague of violence and we must work hard to insure that all of our own actions are befitting the descendants of Avraham Avinu. ( Abraham our Father)" Rabbi Ron Eisenman

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Are Facebook Friends and Twitter Followers Friends ?

picture: Social Media Humor on Pinterest | 23 Pins

I have written a number of times about my PLN and how lucky I am to have such a supportive PLN and how I consider many of them more than just a PLN but friends.

However what level of Friendship are we talking about really?
I have over 4,000 twitter follower and 400 Facebook friends not to mention LinkedIN. By some standards I have a small amount of followers and few Facebook Friends. At the same time there are some on hose Social media sites whom even though I have never met I am very close with and have been true friends and have been there for me during difficult times.  I will also admit that I am a friendly guy and I enjoy meeting new people and chatting, and I know that not for everyone so finding a balance is also important but without seeing the person face, body language, and hearing their tone, at times finding that balance, at least for me has been difficult.

For me I can divide my online friends into these categories

1. Family and good friends who I have been friends with for years and just happen to be friends on Social media sites as  well.

2. People who I have met and I am friendly with and know them personally

3. Friends who I have met on social media,but have never met them in person but through sharing common goals and  interests ( in education, religion, and politics)  we have developed a real friendship and they have been there for me as true friends.

4. Friends who are fellow educators or share similar interests and they are more acquaintances who became friends to broaden my professional networking and base.

I do not know how many of "friends" are in each group and these classifications are just generalizations but there are friends who I would have thought I had little in common with but later learned that we are very much alike and became good friends.

Lately this idea of how much to open up and have friends on Social media and finding that balance I mentioned earlier has been on my mind. So I was curious as to what others think so I did  google search and came across the following article:  "The Limits of Friendship"  Here are some excerpts of the article. This article was not found in any science magazine but the ideas mentioned resonated with me and it is definitely food for thought

     "Robin Dunbar came up with his eponymous number almost by accident. The University of Oxford anthropologist and psychologist (then at University College London) was trying to solve the problem of why primates devote so much time and effort to grooming. In the process of figuring out the solution, he chanced upon a potentially far more intriguing application for his research. At the time, in the nineteen-eighties, the Machiavellian Intelligence Hypothesis (now known as the Social Brain Hypothesis) had just been introduced into anthropological and primatology discourse. It held that primates have large brains because they live in socially complex societies: the larger the group, the larger the brain. Thus, from the size of an animal’s neocortex, the frontal lobe in particular, you could theoretically predict the group size for that animal.

Looking at his grooming data, Dunbar made the mental leap to humans. “We also had humans in our data set so it occurred to me to look to see what size group that relationship might predict for humans,” he told me recently. Dunbar did the math, using a ratio of neurotically volume to total brain volume and mean group size, and came up with a number. Judging from the size of an average human brain, the number of people the average person could have in her social group was a hundred and fifty. Anything beyond that would be too complicated to handle at optimal processing levels............

As constant use of social media has become the new normal, however, people have started challenging the continued relevance of Dunbar’s number: Isn’t it easier to have more friends when we have Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to help us to cultivate and maintain them? Some, like the University of California, Berkeley, professor Morten Hansen, have pointed out that social media has facilitated more effective collaborations. Our real-world friends tend to know the same people that we do, but, in the online world, we can expand our networks strategically, leading to better business outcomes. Yet, when researchers tried to determine whether virtual networks increase our strong ties as well as our weak ones (the ones that Hansen had focused on), they found that, for now, the essential Dunbar number, a hundred and fifty, has remained constant. When Bruno Gonçalves and his colleagues at Indiana University at Bloomington looked at whether Twitter had changed the number of relationships that users could maintain over a six-month period, they found that, despite the relative ease of Twitter connections as opposed to face-to-face one, the individuals that they followed could only manage between one and two hundred stable connections. When the Michigan State University researcher Nicole Ellison surveyed a random sample of undergraduates about their Facebook use, she found, while that their median number of Facebook friends was three hundred, they only counted an average of seventy-five as actual friends.......

“What Facebook does and why it’s been so successful in so many ways is it allows you to keep track of people who would otherwise effectively disappear,” he said. But one of the things that keeps face-to-face friendships strong is the nature of shared experience: you laugh together; you dance together; you gape at the hot-dog eaters on Coney Island together. We do have a social-media equivalent—sharing, liking, knowing that all of your friends have looked at the same cat video on YouTube as you did—but it lacks the synchronicity of shared experience. It’s like a comedy that you watch by yourself: you won’t laugh as loudly or as often, even if you’re fully aware that all your friends think it’s hysterical. We’ve seen the same movie, but we can’t bond over it in the same way.........

With social media, we can easily keep up with the lives and interests of far more than a hundred and fifty people. But without investing the face-to-face time, we lack deeper connections to them, and the time we invest in superficial relationships comes at the expense of more profound ones. We may widen our network to two, three, or four hundred people that we see as friends, not just acquaintances, but keeping up an actual friendship requires resources. “The amount of social capital you have is pretty fixed,” Dunbar said. “It involves time investment. If you garner connections with more people, you end up distributing your fixed amount of social capital more thinly so the average capital per person is lower.” If we’re busy putting in the effort, however minimal, to “like” and comment and interact with an ever-widening network, we have less time and capacity left for our closer groups. Traditionally, it’s a sixty-forty split of attention: we spend sixty per cent of our time with our core groups of fifty, fifteen, and five, and forty with the larger spheres. Social networks may be growing our base, and, in the process, reversing that balance.

On an even deeper level, there may be a physiological aspect of friendship that virtual connections can never replace. This wouldn’t surprise Dunbar, who discovered his number when he was studying the social bonding that occurs among primates through grooming. Over the past few years, Dunbar and his colleagues have been looking at the importance of touch in sparking the sort of neurological and physiological responses that, in turn, lead to bonding and friendship. “We underestimate how important touch is in the social world,” he said. With a light brush on the shoulder, a pat, or a squeeze of the arm or hand, we can communicate a deeper bond than through speaking alone. “Words are easy. But the way someone touches you, even casually, tells you more about what they’re thinking of you.”

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Saying Thank You

Today we always seem to be moving in the fast lane.  We often don't take time for personal conversations but rather tweet or text to the extent that even the way we write in a tweet or text is now a new form of shorthand. I am guilty of this as well at times. However this has come at a cost and I believe that cost is we no longer appreciate things and people like we did in the past. 
When was the last time you said thank you to someone? 
A while ago as part of my blog challenge  Jena Sherry, who continues to be a source of inspiration,wrote the following blog about the importance of saying thank you. 

It is funny how two very easy words are at times very hard to say.

Today I came across the following article by Marshal Goldsmith " Two Magic Words-Thank You" who says the following:

"Thanking works because it expresses one of our most basic emotions: gratitude. Not an abstraction, gratitude is a genuine emotion. It cannot be exacted or forced. You either feel it or you don’t. Yet, when someone does something nice for you, they expect gratitude and they think less of you for withholding it. Think about the last time you gave someone a gift. If they didn’t say thank you, how did you feel about them? Great person? Or ungrateful S.O.B.?

Similarly when you receive suggestions from your key stakeholders on how you can become a more effective leader, you can look at these suggestions as gifts — and treat your stakeholders as gift-givers. Just as you would not insult the person who is trying to be nice to you by giving you a gift, when your stakeholders give you ideas, you don’t want to insult them or their ideas. You want to learn to just say, “Thank you.”

Who do you need to ask, "How can I become a better …?" How do you typically respond to suggestions? Do you treat them as gifts - or do you critique them and the person making them?"

Goldsmith makes two key points:

The first being that saying thank you taps into the basic emotion of gratitude and that is something that we all need and even insist on when we teaching and raising our children to be respectful. As Goldsmith points out we all know how it feels to do something good and we don't receive the proper thanks.

Secondly which is something I never thought of before and that is how to we view advise or feedback from others. Do we encourage others to help us become better and do we truly view the response as Goldsmith suggests as a gift and requires a Thank you or as a negative critique of our performance.

Bottom line is I think it needs to go both ways. I think we as leaders and educators need to feel that we are appreciate by our stakeholders and hear those words Thank You and at the same time we as leaders and educators need to understand that we always need to be looking to be better and not only do we need to ask how we can become better but that we need to understand that the answer we get is a gift and we need to say Thank You !

Monday, February 23, 2015

Having an Inclusive Mindset


I have been having trouble with what to write about inclusion and how to incorporate into the classroom and then I came across the following article "Inclusion is Great. Now What?

I would recommend that everyone reads the article.

Here are some key sections of the article:

"Last September, my MATAN colleague Lisa Friedman wrote: “Inclusion is not a program. And inclusion is not something that we do for people with disabilities. Rather, inclusion is a mindset, an attitude, a way of thinking that opens doors to opportunities for meaningful engagement, contribution and belonging .”
So inclusion is more than a what we do or some type of program that we do but it is a mindset a pedagogy of how we relate to the students in our schools. Therefore to be honest it is hard to teach teachers how to do inclusion or what is the best "program" or way to do "it".

We need to have an inclusive mindset

"If we are honest, we’ll admit that there’s room for improvement. After consulting several individuals with special needs and parents of children who have special needs, I’ve compiled a few tips we can all follow to make our world a more inclusive place:

1. When you see a person who is different, a smile or friendly greeting can go a long way toward making that individual and their family welcome.

2. If it is a family member, friend, or community member, let them know that their presence is important to you. If they are not able to participate in some function (services, Shabbat dinner, a family picnic, etc.) because of their special circumstance, ask how you can accommodate them and adjust accordingly.

3. When you speak to a family member of a person with special needs, don’t avoid the topic. Ask about that person, not just about the rest of the family.

4. When you’re at a family or social gathering, in synagogue or anywhere else, and you see someone struggling — don’t stare. Offer a smile, a compassionate glance, and even a helping hand. They may not need help with their special needs child — and you might feel hesitant to get involved — but they might need some support for their other children at the moment.

5. Be a friend. Let the individual set the tone and follow their cues. Listen patiently and be supportive. Let them know you are there for them.

6. Don’t judge. We all have our own battles to fight and everyone is doing their best.
As parents of a 14-year-old boy with autism, my husband and I have experienced many different reactions over the years. We’ve been in situations where people greet us warmly but ignore our son. We’ve dealt with very public meltdowns where bystanders look away or worse, reprimand us. At the same time, we’ve been blessed with family and friends who love our son unconditionally, care about us, and often take the initiative and help us before we even know what we need."

I have often said that creating an environment of inclusion or that inclusion mindset will help all students and all students will gain from it.

Wouldn't we want to incorporate numbers 1, 3, 5, and 6 for all our students in our class or our school

Imagine a school where every student is greeted in a warm friendly manner and we care about our students and their families in a real way.

What is if we truly listened and exercised more patience

And finally what f we created a safe environment in which no one was judged

Not only will we create a this mindset and atmosphere of inclusion but we will create a place that all students call feel as if they matter and are important, and where that can take risks and be themselves without being judged

Wouldn't that be amazing!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Inclusion in Education

This video is a nice reminder of some of  the key points when it comes to inclusion. 

We need to remember a few things: 

Every Student is different but important - YOU MATTER 

We all are taking the same journey but the road that we take may differ. 

Fair but Not Equal 

Harmony-  Creating a Symphony

Respect all of who we are

Until know I have blogged about the importance and the culture and pedagogy behind inclusion I hope over the next two weeks to write about me practical ideas. 

Stay Tuned! 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Symphony


I want to thank Rabbi Schacthowiz of the Agudah Israel of Greenspring for his inspiring words today and for the inspiration for this post.

This week began the series of four special Torah readings related to the month of Adar, the holiday of Purim, the month of Nissan and the holiday of Passover.

Today's reading discussed the Half go Shekel given by everyone ( over the age of 20 ) to the Temple.

The following is based on the sermon Rabbi Schactowitz gave today:

What is the cause of strife and argument? On some level is has
hat they are better than everyone else and at times those are poor and less fortunate often look at themselves as worthless and don't care. 
If this at some level is the cause what is the remedy? The Torah tells us that when it came to the Temple and place that G-D presence rested and the place that unified the entire Jewish people as one every one both poor and rich gave the same amount of a half a Shekel. The Rabbis used this as a lesson that in creating a unified Jewish nation everyone had a role and an equal role and everyone had unique talents to bring and offer.  It can be compared to an orchestra playing a symphony. Which instrument or section is more important? Can you have a symphony with only winds? Rather all the parts are important and make symphony what it is.

As I was listening to this I said what a great message for educators and especially as we are in the middle of #NAIM #JDAM15

This type of "strife" occurs in classrooms all the time. I often remember hearing kids say well I cant do it, or we are stupid kids, or why am I put in this group with all the dumb kids.

Rather the message we need to convey is that a classroom is a Symphony and all the parts have something to add and each person has unique talents  that he or she brings to the class creating this Symphony.

This is truly one of the ideas and beauties of an inclusive classroom, that everyone can add and that everyone has a talent and gift that makes the class complete.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Creativity Circle

I usually don't like to use this blog to promote my own business and personal agenda. However I think this is important. As many of you know my focus has been both in many of my articles and in starting my consulting business, on meeting student needs and making sure all of our students in our classrooms succeed. There are many benefits to having an inclusive classroom and studies have shown how all students benefit from such an environment.

I  have also written about that to create this environment we need to look at other skills beyond just academics. We need to look at the social and emotional side and incorporate those life skills like Critical thinking, collaboration, questioning, and creativity to name a few.

There has also been a lot of talk about STEM and now the need to move to STEAM and incorporate the Arts into our school culture.
Let me be clear when I say Art as its used in STEAM I am not talking about an art class or music class  but rather incorporating art, music and drama into our core curriculum. Allowing that artistic, creative and innovative side of all students to shine.

These thoughts combined with the fact that its North American Inclusion brought me to the following initiative and dream and that is the creation of:



Creating an Inclusive Classroom and Meeting the Needs of All Learners Through Creativity, Innovation and The Arts 

Through creativity we can reach more of the learners more of the time. Creative thinking can be integrated into any content area - Sparking Student Creativity - P Drapeau

Creativity Circle is a project of 

If you or our school is interested in being part of this project please email me at 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Defining Success

Picture :

The majority of this post was written in October of 2012.  As we focus on inclusion and special needs I think success and is an important element. We need to celebrate our success even the small ones. We need to instill in all of our students that "failure is not fatal". 
What lessons and guidance can we provide our children to place them on the path of success?  Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks provides us some insight into this process in his recent weblog (10/13/12)  entitled “Credo: More than we have faith in God, God has faith in us”. He says:

“What makes some children succeed while others fail? More generally, what drives some people to great achievement while others languish, their dreams unfulfilled? That is the question that intrigued American writer Paul Tough. His answer is contained in his book How Children Succeed, published last month.
Tough discovered that what makes the difference is not intelligence, skill or native ability. It isn’t cognitive at all. The difference, he argues, lies in character, in traits such as discipline, persistence, self-control, zest, gratitude, optimism, curiosity, courage and conscientiousness. One dimension, though, matters more than all the others. He calls it grit: the ability to keep going despite repeated failures and setbacks. People with grit grow. People without it are either defeated by life’s challenges or – more likely – become risk-averse. They play it safe.”  

( As we focus this month on inclusion and and different learning Disabilities I want to reiterate Rabbi Sacks' words:  Success is not defined by intelligence and cognitive ability and therefore we need to insure that all of our students and children achieve success )

It may seem counter intuitive that cognition, intelligence or skill will not solely 
pre-determine a person to great accomplishments, rather, learning to deal effectively with challenges and adversity is the most important lesson of all.  We see this all the time in educational settings* and in life – children are always learning from their mistakes.    We need to teach our kids what “grit” means -  how to get-up, dust off their pants, stand tall and  prevail over limitations and shortcomings.   In my office, there hangs a sign stating “We all make mistakes.  It is what we happens after we make the mistakes that matters.”

(* I think most teachers will tell you that  the students that face the most adversity and those that seem to face it head on and succeed are often the students that have the most difficulty in class and have certain issues that make it more difficult for them to "succeed". However given our new understanding it is these students who get up every morning and come to school and face those challenges are the ones that are truly successful. We need to let them and other know that. )

Mistakes, failures and difficult situations do not cease to exist when a child leaves the protective confines of school.  Trials and tribulations continue throughout one’s life.   Many of us both in our personal, professional and even our communal lives have faced disappointments and setbacks. What gives us the “grit” or the resolve to continue? Rabbi Sacks provides some personal insight into this question as well. He says,

 “ I learned to embrace failure instead of fearing it. Why? Because at some point on my religious journey I discovered that more than we have faith in God, God has faith in us. He lifts us every time we fall. He forgives us every time we fail. He believes in us more than we believe in ourselves. He mends our broken hearts. I never cease to be moved by the words of Isaiah: “Even youths grow tired and weary and the young may stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord renew their strength. They soar on wings like eagles, they run and don’t grow weary, they walk and don’t grow faint.”
The greatest source of grit I know, the force that allows us to overcome every failure, every setback, every defeat, and keep going and growing, is faith in God’s faith in us.”

When children see their parents and teachers acknowledging, embracing and dealing with disappointment head on, they too will learn that is it OK to fail – as long as it is followed by a renewed commitment to solving the problem and learning from the experience.  As we wish and hope that our children and students achieve much success in school and throughout their lives, let us also hope that they are given the strength and “grit” needed to overcome whatever setbacks come their way. May they always have faith in G-D and more importantly remember that G-D has faith in each one of us. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Educating the Whole Child


Reposted from November 2014.  I am reposting this in honor of NAIM and JDAM15

This is my last post in my series on differentiation.  I thought I would try to summarize  some of the key ideas  with this post.

To me there are a few bottom line and basic ideas that we need to remember

  1. Differentiation is Just Good Teaching 
  2. Fair doesn't mean Equal
  3. One Size Doesn't Fit All 
  4. Know Each child's story 
  5. The Importance of having a Growth Mindset 
I am sure there are others but those are my top five. However I think this is one over arching idea or theme that encompasses all five.

We need to remember that our job is to educate the whole child. Therefore we need to know their unique needs and background and each child is unique. We also need focus on more just the academics but a child's social and emotional well being is also going to play a role in their school experience and success or failure. 

There was one area related to differentiation that I did not  write about or focus on but if we are truly going to reach the Whole Child then it need to be mentioned and that is our grading system. There is a whole group on Facebook and Twitter about Teachers Throwing out grades and I have blogged about it myself but it worth mentioning in this context as well. 

Grades typically focus only on the academic success or our students but if we are truly going to differentiate and educate the Whole student then the feedback we give needs to take into account not only growth and effort in academic but non academic areas like the arts as well as the students emotional and social well being. 

I think all of us want all of our students to succeed and at the same time many of us seem scared by the idea of differentiating. So let's not call it differentiating  but rather we are focusing on meeting the individual needs of the WHOLE CHILD

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Road to Inclusion: First Step Respect

First posted on Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pic courtesy of

I just finished reading Diversity- Inclusion Handbook by Sondra Thiederman  Admittedly, this book was written from a more business perspective the ideas presented, in my opinion can be easily transferred and applied to education.
The book opens with the following two quotes:

"Working together is more than a good idea it is essential for success”
"Inclusion is not a problem, but a solution"

Since it is clear that inclusion is so necessary how is it achieved?
Thiederman offers the following advice. “The foundation of any successful inclusion and diversity effort lies in the ability of each leader and each team member to communicate respect for people different from him or herself”
In one work RESPECT. To achieve inclusion, we must respect diversity.
However, I believe it goes one step further which Thiederman points out as one of the myths. Too often people are OK with Inclusion and may even be respectful, but only believe that it will work if one group is held to a lower standard of performance.
This unfortunately is true in many schools. We are OK with diversity or even inclusion as long as there is still a difference between the students with special needs and the mainstream students. Nothing is further than the truth. The only way for inclusion to work is to have one class that id differentiated so that each student can meet his or her goals within the classroom.
James Gardner said it best rather than lowering standards we need to “respect people as they are (and then) you can be more effective in helping them become the best they can be.”

Respect can have many meanings, but when talking about inclusion I like the way Thiederman defines respect. She says; “In this context  “respect” means an attitude and the behaviors that accompany that attitude that everyone has a right to be acknowledged as a valuable individual capable of making positive contributions to the team (I would add classroom as well)”.
This is a much higher level than a mere lip service type of respect and takes real actions and effort. That takes leadership.

Thiederman gives us some Essentials for leaders who are truly committed to an inclusive culture.
·         Treat people as individuals
·         Listen to everyone with respect
·         Hold everyone to a high standard of performance.
·         Provide Feedback that allows for growth
·         Educate people about the differences that exists among people
·         Recognize that Inclusion is an ongoing process

Today’s students are all diverse and for our students to succeed in our diverse world we need to embrace a culture of Inclusion and diversity. I have only touched on some of the starting points and hope to explore these ideas more fully and more in depth in future blog posts.