Habits of Kindness: Sharpen the Saw

We introduced the LAST of our 7 Habits of Kindness during our OJCS Maccabiah (it fell on Rosh Chodesh Sivan) yesterday and it may have gotten a little lost in all the Maccabiah excitement (congratulations to us all for having gone past our $10,000 high dream for the student fundraising component and for an amazing day of ruach at OJCS!).  So let me take a moment to revisit…

When our school introduces a new Habit of Kindness, I take it upon myself to blog about the new Habit.  (Last month was “Synergize“.)  We have been enlisting our Knesset to prepare and present the new Habit at our monthly Rosh Chodesh Assemblies.  (You can stay on top of all our Community of Kindness activities by checking out its blog.) They have been very creative!  But with all the work being put into the Maccabiah, let’s turn this month and see what it says from the “Leader in Me: 7 Habits for Kids” page (which was shared with the students during the opening ceremonies):

Habit 7 — Sharpen The Saw

Balance Feels Best

I take care of my body by eating right, exercising and getting sleep. I spend time with family and friends. I learn in lots of ways and lots of places, not just at school. I find meaningful ways to help others.

So you can think of what it means to “sharpen the saw” as being divided into three categories: “Spiritually Fit”, “Mentally Fit”, and “Physically Fit”.

We hopefully do our best to encourage all of those kinds of fitnesses in our school.  Certainly being a Jewish day school provides plenty of opportunity for spiritual fitness, which is one of its many benefits.  Despite our challenging schedule, we continue to hold on to three-days-a-week PE in the Lower School and five-days-a-week PE in the Middle School, as well as recesses and a robust intramural sports program.  We do our best to offer healthy options with our hot lunch program, but do struggle with the amount of sugar and snacks that the many birthdays and holidays bring with them.  This is something we plan to revisit next year.

Of course mental fitness goes along with schooling, but one advantage to being a leader in innovative learning is that it provides tons of opportunity for kids to “learn in lots of ways and lots of places, not just at school”.  We agree!

Part of my goal of blogging about the habits is not just to demonstrate how the school attempts to foster them, however, but to model my own attempts to foster them.  So how am I doing?

I have loved the opportunity our new Tefillah curriculum in the Middle School has provided me to re-engage with daily, morning prayer.  As challenging (and rewarding) as it may be to get middle schoolers psyched for prayer, it is been great for my own spiritual fitness.

Mental fitness?  If I reinterpret the language for children into workaday life, mental fitness here would mean that I find opportunities to learn outside of what I am required to learn or think about to perform my job.  For years (many years), my graduate work and my dissertation-writing were more than sufficient to ensure mental fitness.  But for the last few years?  Outside of many robust games of Words with Friends, my mental fitness may be lacking!  I love the opportunity Shabbat affords me to be with family and friends, but they are also my only hours to read and I would hate to have to choose between those two!  Plus, by the time we finish cleaning up from Shabbat dinner, I’m asleep before my kids.  So I definitely need to “Be Proactive” and do some goal-setting for future mental fitness.

That leaves physical fitness…

I shared back in a blog post about Habit #3, Putting First Things First,

I have made two commitments to wellness this year that are a constant source of teasing…

…I purchased a mini-standing desk for laptop users.

…I purchased a seasonal affective disorder lamp.

I have seen the articles all about how “sitting is the new smoking” and if that is even partly true, I am sadly stage something with sitting.  So I am now standing a few hours a day at my desk and we’ll see what happens!

It is dark when I get to school and dark when I leave school. And for fun, for about half the year it is pretty dark while I am at school too!  So I have decided to see if one of these SAD lights will keep me un-SAD during the long winter months.

Well, did they make a difference?  I can definitely say that they did not not make a difference!  I definitely think the standing desk has helped and I am thinking about getting a standing mat to go with it next year so that I can comfortably stand for even longer.  My SAD light helped during the long winter months (I am only going by “light” and not “temperature,” otherwise, I would be tempted to still call it “winter”).  My wellness goal for the summer is to ride my bike to work each day.  My physical fitness goal for next year is to add some weight training or a sport to whatever cardio I can manage at home.

So that’s how plan on sharpening my saw…how about you?

Author: Jon Mitzmacher

Dr. Jon Mitzmacher is the Head of the Ottawa Jewish Community School and co-founder of edJEWcon.  He was most recently the VP of Innovation for Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools.  He is the former Executive Director of the Schechter Day School Network.  He is also the former head of the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School, a K-8 Solomon Schechter, located in Jacksonville, FL, and part of the Jacksonville Jewish Center.  He was the founding head of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Las Vegas.  Jon has worked in all aspects of Jewish Education from camping to congregations and everything in between.

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