A Chanukah BONUS Trip Around the OJCS Blogosphere

Chag urim sameach!  Happy Chanukah!

It was so wonderful to see so many of you at our Annual Chanukah Family Program last night!  I’ve never seen our Gym so full!  That is what it looks like with a school of nearly 200 students and their families…who knew?!  The kids were amazing and it was so nice to see so many people from our OJCS Family come together to celebrate.  (Check out our social and “The Hadashot” for pictures and videos from this special evening!)

I hadn’t prepared to blog an additional time prior to Winter Break, but as I’ve been poking around the OJCS Blogosphere, I saw so much Chanukah ruach that I thought I might as well take advantage of the opportunity and provide a second “Trip Around” post.  [Click here if you want to revisit the trip we took earlier in the year.]

From the OJCS JK / Gan Katan Blog (click here for the full blog)

Happy Chanukah! – Posted on December 19

Today we made some beautiful unique marbelized invitations for our Chanukah show tomorrow evening! If you’re interested in the process and the science, please click here. We learned about the miracle of the ‘shemen’ (oil) on Chanukah, why shemen (oil) does not mix with mayim (water), and experimented with different kinds of paper that we called ‘thirsty’ (watercolour paper) and ‘not thirsty’ (cardstock). We also celebrated the first day of Chanukah with some singing, candle lighting, and window decorating. A very big TODAH RABAH! to Ivri’s family for bringing us a beautiful chanukiyah and some lovely candles!

Happy Chanukah!

From the OJCS Grade 1A / Kitah Alef-A Blog (click here for the full blog)

From Friday Features – Posted on December 16

Chanukah is almost here!! We can feel it in the air!

Here are some things we have been doing !

In math we have been working on different graphing activities for our math Unit on Data Management. We conducted a survey for our favourite Chanukah Treats. We are working on a booklet using 3 different types of graphs. Bar Graphs, Pictographs, and Tallie marks. We are looking forward to seeing how your family likes their Latkes, when our homework is returned on  Tuesday.

From the OJCS Grade 3/ Kitah Gimmel-A Blog (click here for the full blog)

Oh Chanukah, Math-manukah – Posted on December 14

This week we took our problem solving skills and applied them to a series of Chanukah themed Math problems!

We worked on 4 different problems;

Morah Lianna made latkes for her friends and family. She fried up 72 latkes for her 18 students in 3A and all of the 35 teachers at OJCS. How many did she have left after 3A and all the teachers ate their latkes?

Morah Lianna was collecting gelt to play dreidels with. She collected 80 chocolate coins, but while she was on recess duty, Mrs. Cleveland ate 17 of them and Ms. Beswick came to take 25 of them. How many chocolate coins did Morah Lianna have left?

Morah Lianna and Cooper were getting ready to light the Chanukiah. She had 28 candles ready for the holiday, but Cooper accidentally ate 6 candles and broke 4 more. How many candles did Morah Lianna have left?

Morah Lianna was making Chanukah gift bags. She made 8 bags in total. Each bag will have 2 dreidels, 2 sufganiyot, and 5 chocolate coins. How many dreidels does Morah Lianna need to buy? How many sufganiyot does Morah Lianna need to buy? How many chocolate coins does she need to buy? What if she wanted to make 10 gift bags in total, instead of 8?

The students worked in small groups to answer their problem.

   

Then they all shared their thinking and reasoning in order to learn from each other! We even worked as a class to correct some of the errors we made with our Math operations (#NorthStarAlert! We Learn Better Together)

Stay tuned for next week’s Chanukah related Math problem!

Hope you enjoyed the brief tour and, I bet, if you take a peek after reading this post, you’ll see even more Chanukah joy reflected.  Enjoy the last few nights of Chanukah!

BTW – if you like a playlist and a signature cocktail for your celebrations [I see you Nancy!], why don’t you go ahead and make yourself a Chanukah Gelt Martini and vibe to this playlist:

Annual Blog Cloud

It has all the makings.  It is mid-November.  It snowed for the first time.  American Thanksgiving is growing closer.  For whatever reason, this has become the sweet spot for one of my favorite little blog posts…running my blog through a “word cloud” program and seeing what happens!

If you missed last year’s punny post

I genuinely do enjoy this annual exercise in “word-clouding”.  If you are unfamiliar with the idea, in a nutshell, word clouds (through an algorithm only they know) take any piece of written text and represents it graphically in a way which highlights frequently-used words.  It is a fantastic device for visually summarizing the essence of a written text.  Another great feature is that, not only can you cut-and-paste in any written document, you can type in blogs, websites, etc., and it will go back and search them for content, add it all up, and spit out a word cloud representing the sum of all its written content.

This is my sixth such annual post here at OJCS and I have done them each, as stated above, in November.  So, what does this year’s “blog cloud” look like and what does it reveal?  [If it is too small on your screen/device you can go ahead and zoom in.  Or just scroll up!]

I just put last and this years’ clouds side-by-side to do a little comparison.

Guess what didn’t make the list at all?!

COVID!

“Jewish”, “Learning” and “Time” remain strong.  “Community” is back and “Students” and “Parents” have also returned to prominence.

We see “Middle” and “Makerspace” and “Blog” show up in a big way, with “Makerspace” debuting in this post.  I think “Middle” is a reflection of how much time, energy, thought and care we are putting into our OJCS Middle School to continue to ensure that it has both a “value add” and a unique “value proposition” of its own.  It makes sense that the OJCS Makerspace, now that it has launched as a hub of innovation, has raised its profile.

I think the word “back” is so prominent because we have been so excited about all the amazing programs and conversations that we are finally able to bring…back!

Next year I hope to see “Mitzvah Trips” make the list.

What words would you have expected to see?  What words are you surprised to see?

If you see something interesting in my OJCS “blog cloud” let me know in the comments!

OJCS Celebrates #GlobalMakerDay

Sure, we were a bit delayed in joining in with the rest of the school world due to the Jewish Holidays, but we more than made up for it with an incredible day of learning, making, innovating, and joy as the Ottawa Jewish Community School celebrated #GlobalMakerDay on Thursday, October 20th!  We might as well have called it #OJCSNorthStarsDay since a day like this reaches so close to so many of them…

…”We learn better together”?  We sure did today as collaboration was the key to innovation.

…”We own our own learning”?  Students got to choose which challenges inspired their creativity.

…”A floor, but no ceiling”?  The sky (literally in a few cases) was the limit as to how high they chose to aspire.

…”Ruach”?  Did they have fun?  Check out the smiles below and tell me.

I want to be super clear and name that not only did I have virtually nothing to do with the planning and facilitation of this day, I also had virtually nothing to do with the documentation of this day as well.  It is my pleasure to use my blog to showcase the work of those who did.

The primary drivers of #GlobalMakerDay at OJCS were our #MakerspaceThree.  As I shared a while back in a post about the (re)launch of our OJCS Makerspace (generously supported by a gift from the Congregation Beth Sholom Legacy Fund), we have three teachers who spent much of last year in a consultation with Future Design School (generously supported by a grant by the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s Fund for Innovative Capacity Building) – Josh Ray, who serves as our “Makerspace Lead”, Faye Mellenthin and Michael Washerstein.  [With a huge assist from our Global Learning Lead Julie Bennett!]  Everything that you are going to see below is the fruit of their labors – with photo collages captured by Staci Zemlak-Kenter, who dabbles in social while serving as our Development Director.  This, along with the beginning of regularly scheduled lessons in the Makerspace, is just the beginning of how this space will serve as an incubator of innovation at OJCS.

So.  What was this day all about?

In a nutshell…this:

Do you want to see what all 15 challenges were?  If so, keep scrolling!  [NOTE: You will not be able to click through to the videos and printables.]  If not, feel free to jump to the end!

Did our students have an amazing day putting all our skills, materials, creativity to good use?

I’d say “yes” – this was great day of learning at OJCS!  What new dream will we dream in the OJCS Makerspace?  Stay tuned!

This Year’s First Trip Around the OJCS Blogosphere

I thought I’d take break from Jewish Holidays despite today’s amazing Sukkah Hop (follow us on social!) and next week’s climactic chagim, to take us on our first tour this year of The OJCS Blogosphere.  Recognizing that it still may be a new routine for families and that most families surely don’t have the bandwidth to visit all the blogs, it is my pleasure to serve as your occasional tour guide.  I do this a few times a year to inspire OJCS families to invest a little time, to inspire other schools and thought-leaders who may visit my blog from time to time, and to forge connections between our work and other fellow-travelers because we really do “learn better together” [North Star Alert!]  This week I will focus on classroom blogs and, in the future, I’ll curate from school leadership blogs as well as student blogfolios.

From the Middle School Jewish Studies Blog (click here for the full blog)

Grades 6-8: Yad B’Yad Mitzvah Initiative Update – Posted on October 12

Our Mitzvah Trips are off and running! The Yad B’Yad (hand in hand) Mitzvah Initiative provides students with incredible opportunities to give back to our community and put their Jewish values into action. The theme of our Mitzvah Trips for this month is Kehillah Kedoshah. The phrase translates to a sacred or holy community. Students are learning about the importance of community. We are focusing on donating our time and giving back to others in our community. Our goal is to interact with and support various communities in Ottawa. Our first three Mitzvah Trips have focused on engaging with valued members of our Ottawa Jewish Community.

Together, they helped OTT at KBI Supplementary School step into the new year on the right foot by working to beautify the space. Students painted the walls, set up classrooms, and organized learning spaces.

The second week of our Yad B’Yad mitzvah initiative allowed our middle school students to make mini apple pies and challah buns to donate to the Ottawa Kosher Food Bank. Thank you to A Dashing Pinch – Village Café for overseeing our efforts and baking these delicious treats!

Our third week provided students with the opportunity to get creative! Students spent time creating decorations for our sukkah. In addition, a group of students went to the JCC to help make decorations for their sukkah. Check back soon to see what other amazing Mitzvah Trips that students are participating in.

From the Kindergarten – Gan Blog (click here for the full blog)

On International Dot Day, SK Made Their Mark – Posted on September 16

On September 15, 2022, the kids in SK celebrated International Dot Day!!!  If you’re not sure what International Dot Day is all about, here’s a little explanation:

September 15th marks the anniversary of the publication of best-selling author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds’ The Dot, a “story book for all ages.”

Starting in 2009, a group of educators began celebrating this date as International Dot Day — a day for classes to explore the story’s powerful themes: bravery, creativity, and self-expression.

The Dot tells the story of a caring teacher who reaches a reluctant student in a remarkably creative way. In Peter’s book, the teacher dares a very resistant Vashti to “make her mark.” Vashti’s breakthrough begins with a simple dot on a piece of paper. Encouraged by her teacher she sets off on a journey of self-discovery, letting her creativity bloom and, ultimately, inspire others.

from The Educator’s Handbook for International Dot Day

To mark this special day yesterday, after reading the book, the kids got to explore their own creativity by making their own unique dot.  They experimented with colour mixing by using markers on coffee filters and then spraying them with water at the Saturation Station.  They also drew their own special masterpieces to make their mark.  We listened to and watched a video of the “The Dot Song” written by Emily Arrow and Peter H. Reynolds…. you can watch the video and do the actions at home here.

The school year may have just begun, but the kids in Senior Kindergarten have already made their mark in a big way!!  Check out the pictures below and then keep scrolling for some important upcoming dates!!!

From The OJCS Library Blog (click here for the full blog)

Life Cycles and Migration Storytime – Posted on September 28

Today we read the beautiful book Bird, Butterfly, Eel by James Prosek.  This will give us a great introduction to the subject of both life cycles and migration.

For a follow-up activity, download the amazing activity guide booklet available at the National Environmental Education Foundation website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our teachers and students are doing some pretty fantastic things, eh?

I will continue to encourage you to not only check out the blogs on The OJCS Blogosphere, but I strongly encourage you to offer a quality comment of your own.  Getting feedback and commentary from the universe is highly motivating and will help this snowball grow as it hurtles down the hill of innovative learning.

La fête de la Francophonie

For those of you whose historical memory of OJCS goes back 5 years or more, you may recall that for a number of years we invested lots of time, love and resources in all of our grades putting on French plays – or vignettes – each Spring as a way of both celebrating French and making clear how important French and French language are at OJCS.  I had one opportunity, during my first year, to watch those delightful plays and since they were retired – as happens in schools, programs cycle in and out – we have been patiently waiting to replace those plays with an updated program that serves the same purpose.

Well…that time has come!

We are so pleased to let you know that this Monday-Wednesday (March 21-23) will be our inaugural “La fête de la Francophonie” at OJCS!  The goals are simple – to spend three days marinating in French, celebrating the work of our students and teachers, highlighting the strides our French program has taken in the last few years, and elevating French beyond the boundaries of French class, into the broader OJCS culture.  Like any firsts, we expect things will go well, with some minor hiccups, but are eager to see this program develop into a significant milestone in our school’s annual journey.

So…what to expect at “la fête”?

To set the ambience, we will have a customized French music playlist to greet our students each day upon entry…

Different grades/cohorts will be assigned a different French-speaking region/country to learn more about including…

  • Franco-Ontario
  • La France
  • Acadie
  • Madagascar
  • Québec
  • La Suisse
  • Les Seychelles
  •  L’Égypte
  • La Belgique

…students will learn about their region/country, not just during French, but across their day, and will take what they learn to compete in a door-decorating contest.  The winners will receive a ‘dégustation de crêpes’.

Each French class will work on a presentation that will be presented in the grand finale of “La fête de la Francophonie” at an all-school assembly Wednesday afternoon.

And many more surprises…

So there you go…voilà!

Parents at OJCS will hopefully look forward to lots of opportunities to peek in and/or to see pictures and videos during this year’s celebration.  We’ll look forward to building on this in future years as we continue to emphasize French in our trilingual school.  Stay tuned for more updates about the future of French at OJCS in the weeks and months ahead!

(Re)Launching the OJCS Makerspace

As our school and community begin to gently ease itself slowly back to that elusive thing we once knew as “normal”, I am very pleased to share that we have completed the “Makerspace Consultancy” that I had announced earlier in the year, and that we are gearing up to finally establish the Makerspace (built with a gift from the Congregation Beth Shalom Legacy Fund) as the hub of innovation for OJCS that it was designed to be.

To refresh…

Thanks to a generous grant by the Jewish Federation of Ottawa‘s Fund for Innovative Capacity Building, OJCS worked with Future Design School over the balance of this school year on a strategic makerspace consultancy.  The OJCS Makerspace Design Team included Josh Ray, our Middle School Science Teacher, Faye Mellenthin, our Grade 4 General Studies Teacher, Mike Washerstein, a Middle School Jewish Studies and Grade 6 Language Arts Teacher, and was headed up by Melissa Thompson, our Teaching & Learning Coordinator (and Grades 7 & 8 LA Teacher).  This was to ensure that the principles, the units, the standalone lessons, etc., cut across grades and languages and will allow us to not only build content that we can use right away, but to build capacity that we can use to develop curriculum and programming into the future.

We had our final meeting last week and received one of our deliverables – a slide deck that I am going to cherry-pick from below.  In a truly post-COVID world, we would have scheduled one of our World Famous OJCS Town Halls and presented there.  And we still may in the future, but for now, let my blog be the platform for sharing out the amazing work our team of teachers did in collaboration with our wonderful partners at Future Design School.

What were the goals?

What wound up being our “guiding principles”?

How do we get there?

How will we try to do this?

How about our students?

How will we do this?

When will all of this begin?

SOON!

The Makerspace Design Team – who I cannot thank enough for their time, commitment and passion – and I will be meeting during the Spring so that we bring all this excitement, creativity and innovation to life next school year, if not sooner.

As enrollment continues to come in – and thank you to the many, many parents who re-enrolled on time, and welcome to the many new families joining our OJCS Family for 2022-2023 – the relaunch of the OJCS Makerspace will help move our school that much closer to our North Stars and make learning that much more motivating and engaging for our students.  We can’t wait to see what our students invent and create!  And, yes, say it with me, this too is very much #TheOJCSDifference.

Do you want your child to benefit from all that an OJCS education provides?  It isn’t too late!  Please contact our Admissions Director, Jennifer Greenberg ([email protected]) to set up a tour today!

Another Trip Around the OJCS Student Blogfolio-Sphere

I can assure you that this regular reminder of our student blogfolios with its concomitant plea for your visitation is not a function of my from time-to-time challenge in finding a prompt for blogging.  (Although that is definitely a challenge some weeks!)  It is also not a function of believing that blogging is the primary or most important thing that we do at OJCS – it is not.  But because blogs and blogfolios do makeup the spine of which much else is built around; because the pandemic has required us to lean into them more regularly; and because they are outward facing – available for you and the general public to read, respond and engage with – I do want to make sure that I keep them top of mind.

For most of my professional life, I have had two children in (my) schools where they maintained blogfolios.  I subscribed to them, of course, but I am not going to pretend that I read each and every posting, and certainly not at the time of publication.  So this is not about shaming parents or relatives whose incredibly busy lives makes it difficult to read each and every post.  As the head of school where blogfolios are part of the currency, I frequently set aside time to browse through and make comments – knowing that each comment give each student a little dose of recognition and a little boost of motivation.  But I am certainly not capable of reading each and every post from each and every student and teacher!

When I am able to scroll through, what I enjoy seeing the most is the range of creativity and personalization that expresses itself through their aesthetic design, the features they choose to include (and leave out), and the voluntary writing.  This is what we mean when we talk about “owning our own learning” and having a “floor, but not a ceiling” for each student.

It is also a great example of finding ways to give our students the ability to create meaningful and authentic work.  But, it isn’t just about motivation – that we can imagine more easily.  When you look more closely, however, it is really about students doing their best work and reflecting about it.  Look at how much time they spend editing.  Look at how they share peer feedback, revise, collaborate, publish and reflect.

This year, with the building still largely sealed off due to COVID protocols, our classroom blogs and student blogfolios remain important virtual windows into the innovative and exciting work happening at OJCS.  In addition to encouraging families, friends and relatives to check it out, I also work hard to inspire other schools and thought-leaders who may visit my blog from time to time to visit our school’s blogosphere so as to forge connections between our work and other fellow-travelers because we really do “learn better together” [North Star Alert!]

So please go visit our landing page for OJCS Student Blogfolios.  [Please note that due to privacy controls that some OJCS students opt for avatars instead of utilizing their first names / last initials which is our standard setting.  That may explain some of the creative titles.]  On our last tour, I pre-selected a few examples, but we have WAY TOO many to do that now, so go…

Seriously go!  I’ll wait…

English, French and Hebrew; Language Arts, Science, Math, Social Studies, Jewish Studies and so much more…our students are doing some pretty fantastic things, eh?

I will continue to encourage you to not only check out all the blogs on The OJCS Blogosphere, but I strongly encourage you to offer a quality comment of your own – especially to our students.  Getting feedback and commentary from the universe is highly motivating and will help this snowball (no pun or passive-aggressive take on what is happening outside my window!) grow as it hurtles down the hill of innovative learning.

If the days are growing short and (American) Thanksgiving is coming…#AnnualBlogCloud

Ah yes, here we are in mid-November.  We had our first super mild snowfall, the days are growing shorter and colder, my FOMO for American Thanksgiving is ramping up and my seasonal affective disorder lamp is shining that sweet, sweet Vitamin D in my direction.  That can mean only one thing – time to dust off the annual BlogCloud post!  (It is also true that if you are going to write 400 weekly posts and counting, you need to have some standard-issue content to fall back upon.)

If you missed last year’s punny post

I genuinely do enjoy this annual exercise in “word-clouding”.  If you are unfamiliar with the idea, in a nutshell, word clouds (through an algorithm only they know) take any piece of written text and represents it graphically in a way which highlights frequently-used words.  It is a fantastic device for visually summarizing the essence of a written text.  Another great feature is that, not only can you cut-and-paste in any written document, you can type in blogs, websites, etc., and it will go back and search them for content, add it all up, and spit out a word cloud representing the sum of all its written content.

This is my fifth such annual post here at OJCS and I have done them each, as stated above, in November.  So, what does this year’s BlogCloud look like and what does it reveal?  [If it is too small on your screen/device you can go ahead and zoom in.  Or just scroll up!]

I just put last and this years’ clouds side-by-side to do a little comparison.

“Jewish”, “Teacher” and “Student” still hold strong at about the same size, and even if “Parent” is still smaller, it is proportionately larger than last year.  That would lend credence to my conclusion that the increase in parent emails due to COVID explains “Parent”‘s waxing and waning.  Interestingly, although “Learning” and “Time” remain strong, “Community” is much smaller than in prior years.  I wonder if that is a casualty of COVID, in that we have many less opportunities to gather as and to function as a full community.  I take it is a warning and a reminder that we start to more fully occupy this “late COVID” or “post COVID” space, that one thing that has not yet snapped back is our emphasis on community.  (The fact that “COVID” is a bit smaller this year makes me so happy!)  Mission accepted!

What words would you have expected to see?  What words are you disappointed to see?

If you see something interesting in my OJCS BlogCloud, let me know in the comments!

OJCS Announces NEW Makerspace Consultancy

Again, for the second week in a row, I am tempting the fates by assuming that we have entered a period of somewhat normalcy and, again, hoping to avoid a jinx.  This week, it is to announce an exciting consultancy we have launched at OJCS that will – finally – allow us to truly roll out the Makerspace as it was originally intended to be.  Do you remember way back in March 2019, when we announced that thanks to a generous gift from the Congregation Beth Shalom Legacy Fund, that we were going to take on our first major project to make our physical space as innovative as our educational program – namely designing and constructing the OJCS Makerspace?

It feels like a lifetime ago!  After design, came construction and after construction came furnishing and timing being everything, you may recall that it took until about a full calendar year later, January of 2020, that we were finally able – even though there were (are!) still some design elements and furnishings not yet in place – to begin using the Makerspace.  That means that by the time Middle School Science relocated to their new space, we had about a month or so of contact time and then…COVID.  Thanks to COVID we either could not use the space at all or had such limitations on its usage due to safety protocols that its functionality was severely compromised.  Long story short…we built this amazing space and still haven’t had much of an opportunity to use it the way that it was designed.

But that’s about to change…

Knowing that for 2021-2022 we could return to the “soft launch” of the space, and believing that in 2022-2023 we ought to be able to officially launch, we decided to engage a consultancy to ensure that we wind up using the space in the best possible way.  And so I am pleased to share that thanks to a generous grant by the Jewish Federation of Ottawa‘s Fund for Innovative Capacity Building, OJCS will be working with Future Design School over the balance of this school year on a strategic makerspace consultancy.

What will we be doing?

Well, as was the case with our last two consultancies, we have identified a small cohort who will work with Future Design School to…

  1. Create a statement of principles, in collaboration with the OJCS team, that defines what the makerspace at OJCS is focused on, and how it will be leveraged.
  2. Provide scaffolded support to the Middle School Science teacher and two other teachers to develop an approach for designing lessons to be delivered in the makerspace.
  3. Provide recommendations in a final summary from consultancy on next steps to be taken with all teachers to integrate the use of the makerspace into their lessons.

The OJCS Makerspace Design Team will include Josh Ray, our Middle School Science Teacher, Faye Mellenthin, our Grade 4 General Studies Teacher, Mike Washerstein, a Middle School Jewish Studies and Grade 6 Language Arts Teacher, and will be headed up by Melissa Thompson, our Teaching & Learning Coordinator (and Grades 7 & 8 LA Teacher).  This ensures that the principles, the units, the standalone lessons, etc., cut across grades and languages and allows us to not only build content that we can use right away, but to build capacity that we can use to develop curriculum and programming into the future.

We have our first meeting next week and we will share results and updates as they start to happen.  Not only can we not wait to start using the Makerspace to its fullest potential, we also cannot wait to show you all that it can do and be.  Maybe even in person!  Stay tuned.

My 400th Post: Blogging “The Moral Imperative of Sharing”

I published my first blog post on July 27th, 2010, entitled “Southern Hospitality”.  It was during the summer that I transitioned from being the founding Head of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Las Vegas (z”l) to being the Head of the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School, in Jacksonville, FL.

Why did I start blogging?

Our teachers are required to blog and, therefore, so should I.  So here I am.

If only I had remained that pithy!

What did I plan on blogging about?

We are a 21st century learning school invested in the continuity of a five thousand year-old tradition.  Our attempts to marry the past and the future into an engaging present will largely be the focus of my blog.

That still sounds about right.

Who did I imagine my blog’s audience to be?

Most of my blogging will center on experiences here at school, but I hope to be of interest to anyone interested in Jewish day school, Jewish education, education in general, and in the kinds of stuff I think happen to be interesting and worth sharing.  I guess we’ll find out soon enough!

Or I’ll still never really know if and who is reading!

Why did I call it “A Floor, But Not a Ceiling”?

Because it represents what I believe the purpose of education to be – to ensure each child fulfills his or her own individual maximum potentials in academic, emotional, physical, and spiritual terms.  For there to be no ceiling has direct implications about what we teach and how we teach it.  I hope to use this blog to discuss these ideas and more.

And so here I am…

…11 years, 399 blog posts, three jobs and one country later.

I did a little research into my stats and metrics, but because I didn’t actually take ownership of my own website until coming here to Ottawa, most of the stats and metrics are skewed towards recency bias.  But there are a few things that (at least) I find interesting.

…here are my “Top 5” categories (a post can be assigned multiple categories):

  1. 21st Century Learning (145)
  2. Jewish Education (133)
  3. Community Building (107)
  4. Thought Leadership (106)
  5. Teaching & Learning (92)

(Crowd favorite “Transparency Files” clocked in at 60.)

…here are my “Top 5” tags (a post can be assigned multiple tags):

  1. Transparency (28)
  2. COVID (21)
  3. Innovation (20)
  4. 7 Habits (9)
  5. Second-Language Acquisition (8)

My audience has grown each year I have been here at OJCS (just like our school!) and so it comes as no surprise that 4 of my “Top 5” posts all come in the last four years:

  1. The Disruptive Miracle of Silvia Tolisano (1,171)
  2. OJCS Announces $1,000,000 Gift (689)
  3. The Coronavirus Diaries: OJCS Plans for a “Five-Day, Full-Day” Safe Reopening (495)
  4. Choosing Ottawa Again: Writing My First Second Chapter (446)
  5. L’hitraot Y’all: A Farewell to Seven Years of SaltLife (432)

So, why do I still crank out 40+ blog posts a year with a completely absurd and unacceptable average word count of nearly 900 words?

Because last week a parent emailed me to share some thoughts about something I wrote and it meant something to both of us.

Because I still believe in Dean Shareski‘s “The Moral Imperative of Sharing“.

Because it makes me a better educator, a better communicator and maybe, just maybe, a better person.

Because Silvia told me to.  [Read the post, I am still not able to talk about her in the past tense.]

Because I really believe in this stuff – that the act of putting stuff into the universe matters, even if when and how it matters is unseen or unknowable.

Because it is still true that “Our teachers are required to blog and, therefore, so should I.  So here I am.”

Here I am and here I plan to remain.  Even when I am not sure anyone is reading.  Even when I am sure that almost no one is going to comment (no matter how desperately I plead).  Here is where I will continue to plant seeds and sow dreams.  Here is where I will continue to be transparent, even when what needs to be said is difficult.  Here is where I will work out new ideas.  Here is where I will (occasionally) let my true personality be seen.  Here is where I will advocate for teachers, for students, and for Jewish schools.

Thank you to everyone who ever read a post, subscribed, shared, commented, encouraged or helped.  It is both a privilege and a responsibility to have a voice.  I feel blessed to have been able to share mine over these 400 posts and I look forward to showing up and sharing out over the next 400 posts.

[Under 770 words! Nailed it!]