I just spent the last few minutes scrolling through my “handwritten” notes that I emailed myself from my iPad from this year’s 2010 PEJE Assembly for Advancing the Jewish Day School Field. Here, for example, is a page of handiwork:
Besides serving as evidence as to why my “Handwriting” grades in elementary school were always poor and why I failed “Board Writing” in grad school, this particular page of notes served as a reminder to something that seems obvious, but actually requires a lot of planning – and at our school both a paradigm shift and an investment in faculty. The reminder is that schools that are serious about teaching students how to work well in teams need to dedicate time to allowing (and sometimes coaching) teachers to work in teams. Like so much else of what we preach, the message is best received when we practice – in Hebrew we say we are serving as dugmaot, exemplars.
The third part of my rudimentary equation deals with the financial ramifications for committing to such a philosophy. They say your budget is your most honest reflection of your values, putting your money where your mouth is and all. In our school where the majority of teachers are less-than-full-time, this is a very significant issue. If we believe that our students ought to participate in high-quality cooperative learning experiences and that in order to do so our teachers need the time to plan high-quality cooperating learning experiences by planning together cooperatively, then we need to dedicate time for our teachers to cooperate. (How’s that for a sentence?) Time that cannot come out of their teaching time. Time that cannot come out of their prep time. Yet additional planning time – and that time will cost money and that money has to be reflected in the budget. And so the circle of life continues…this is a challenge we shall be exploring in the future months. Stay tuned.
And that was from one page of my twenty-seven handwritten notes!
I have twenty-six other pages of thoughts and doodles that sparked or will spark other thoughts and ideas that will find their way into the lifeblood of our school through the conversations and programs they will generate. Ideas about alumni programs, development issues, effective communication, team-building and more.
In addition to the new ideas and people I was exposed to at the conference, it was also an opportunity to reconnect to old friends and colleagues and to take stock of where I am in the field and where our school sits in the marketplace. Since this is a professional blog and not a personal blog (God bless those who have the time to do both!), suffice it to say that I am in a happy place. More importantly for this forum, our school seems to be in a happy place as well. There is so much more for us to do and to be – and I think the group of us who went together all came back similarly validated by what we do well (21st Century Learning, Website Marketing, and Governance for examples) and energized for the challenges ahead (Alumni Relations for example). We are heading upwards and onwards into the future. We, too, have a firm floor, but no ceiling on hopes and dreams.
I tried to make good on my promise to explore the power of Twitter by both tweeting on a much more regular basis and by lending my voice, through Twitter, to the general conversation that both was and is taking place through the #pejeassembly “hash-tag”. If you follow that last link you can view the collective wit and wisdom of all those who had something to share from the conference and if you have a Twitter account you can join in the fun. As I began to explore in my last blogpost, these conversations are part of the public record, as are all the tweets ever tweeted on Twitter (say that five times fast!). As always, I invite your comments and contributions to that and any other conversation in whatever way you find most comfortable.
In the meanwhile, I will enjoy a well-deserved restful Shabbat and will try very hard to care about the Florida-Georgia game, even though I left my heart in UC Berkeley.
Go Gators?! (Go Bears!)