Sharing ideas on Education, Leadership and Life



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 agreenblatt.blogspot.com 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 www.pinterest.com

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 Gon├žalves 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. http://jenasherry.blogspot.com/2014/07/not-same-old-same-old.html?spref=tw 


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 !