Let’s Talk About French…Again. L’assemblée de Français 2022

As discussed, connected to our larger theme this year of “Getting Our Mojo Back”, last night we held the second of our three critical conversations this year, that will both hearken back to give everyone equal footing and dream forward to give everyone an equal stake.  Last night’s “town hall” was dedicated to the school’s French Language Journey these last six or so years, and thank you to the parents who turned out to listen and to share.  [For those of you who might have participated had we had made a virtual option available, please know that there will be occasions when we do go hybrid.  We just felt/feel that for these conversations, it is easier to navigate live.]

What I’d like to do here, is provide a kind of annotated guide to the slides that were presented – layering in a bit of my own commentary – and ending with both some proposed next steps and opportunities for onboarding more questions and feedback from more parents.  Parent voice is critical to our ability to dream big dreams, since you, our parents, are our most important stakeholder community and partner.  Please add your voice to the conversation in whichever way is comfortable for you – comment on this blog, shoot me a private email, or make an appointment to come in.  This takes the village.

Unlike the Jewish Studies Town Hall we held in recent weeks, last night’s did not go quite so far back to the beginning.  We really began with a snapshot of what we have done in recent years…consider it, “Promises Made; Promises Kept”:

In terms of academic periods…

And in terms of pure time…it has increased this year (beyond what is reflected above) due to one of a number of more recent changes…

In addition to now offering French-language PE, we have also reorganized our approach to be aligned with the “proficiency” approach to language acquisition – a best practice which describe language learning by…

And with this commitment to the “4 Strands”…

And additionally…

And to ensure our teachers are up to the task…

Now that we are caught up about what is, let’s pivot to what’s next

On the “After School French Programs” piece…we have received LOTS of positive feedback and interest in our first two offerings.  A parent email went out the same day this post was published (11/25), so if you are a current OJCS family interested in participating, please check your email and be sure to respond to next steps.

Now these next slides are important not just in and of themselves, but what they represent (an external, objective assessment of French fluency) and create (an opportunity/responsibility to work “backwards by design” and update a curriculum map that ensures students from JK on up are best positioned to receive their certification.  Let’s talk about DELF:

We are piloting the DELF in this year’s Grade 8 and are looking forward to best utilize it – again, not only as a way of “verifying” that our students have realized a certain external standard of French fluency (or to put it more bluntly, that OJCS graduates are prepared to transition to French Immersion in Grade 9), but as a way of working backwards to ensure that each grade level is preparing students for the next grade level with DELF success front of mind.

 

And finally, because I believe in naming those things which need to be named, let me acknowledge what I also believe to be true…

…we need to hire at least one French Language Resource Teacher as soon as the budget allows for it.

…we should begin exploring “what would need to be true for OJCS to offer a French immersion track at any grade levels”, understanding there are significant space/staffing/budgetary considerations at play.

if OJCS is ultimately unable to offer the Core/Immersion options available through the public board at any grade level, then it has to clarify whether the model will continue to be Core/Extended (with however many add-ons, tweaks, supplements, etc., the model allows for) or whether its future is simply as a French Immersion Jewish Day School (à la Montreal).  At some point it is fair to “call the question”.

So…let me repeat that parent voice is critical to our ability to dream big dreams since you, our parents, are our most important stakeholder community and partner.  I am making a plea, again, to please add your voice to the conversation in whichever way is comfortable for you – comment on this blog, shoot me a private email, or make an appointment to come in.

This takes the village.

Please be sure to join us for our third and final Critical Conversation, “The ‘Future’ of OJCS” on Thursday, February 9th at 7:00 PM.

Author: Jon Mitzmacher

Dr. Jon Mitzmacher is the Head of the Ottawa Jewish Community School. Jon has recently begun his rabbinical school journey at the Academy for Jewish Religion and is thrilled to have joined the faculty of the Day School Leadership Training Institute (DSLTI) as a mentor for Cohort 12. 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.