The Transparency Files: Faculty Pre-Planning Week

Here we are again!  It is the Friday before Pre-Planning Week and the building is full of energy and excitement as boxes are unpacked, files organized, plans established, etc., as we prepare for our teachers on the 13th and our students on the 20th.  Another summer has come and gone and the 2012-2013 school year is ready to begin!

I blogged, here, about how we intended to use our summer vacation for personal and professional development.  “Pre-Planning Week” is our first opportunity to come together as a faculty and staff to share the results and plan implementation into the next school year.  It is a week for preparation, planning and motivation.  It is a liminal week hanging between what was and what is yet to be.  How will we take yet another step closer to being the school we are becoming?  What new programs or ideas will take shape and impact the lives of children and families?  How will we be better teachers and administrators this year?  What will we learn from our students and parents?

The birth of a new year is always exciting because everything is possible!

In the spirit of transparency and constantly putting our schedule where our mouths are, I thought it would be useful to share a taste of what our teachers will be doing this week and link those topics to the major philosophical ideas that guide our school’s mission and vision.

We will begin our week with a protocol I use to kick off each year:

The World Café
Using seven design principles and a simple method, the World Café is a powerful social technology for engaging people in conversations that matter, offering an effective antidote to the fast-paced fragmentation and lack of connection in today’s world.

Based on the understanding that conversation is the core process that drives personal, business, and organizational life, the World Café is more than a method, a process, or technique – it’s a way of thinking and being together sourced in a philosophy of conversational leadership.

This year’s kick-off question: “How can our willingness to mentor and be mentored take our school to the next level?”

The DuBow Preschool (you won’t believe how beautiful it looks after its summer renovation!) will join us for annual team-building.  This year we will unpack what it means for us to be joined together as part of Galinsky Academy by treating this Wordle as a piece of text:

Other highlights of the week will include a training with Dr. Mae Barker, a Senior Behavior Analyst at Florida Autism Consultants & Educational Services entitled “The Recipe for the Successful Inclusion”.  This fits with our ongoing desire to meet the different needs of all our students – it is the very definition of “a floor, but no ceiling”.  [For a fuller explanation of “inclusion” and what it means at MJGDS, click here.]

Our teachers will present their summer “homework” in our first-ever “21st Century Book Club”.  For a refresher on what books our teachers read this summer and why, click here.

And in addition to the studying with our clergy, meeting in teams to plan curriculum and projects, and receiving training and coaching in iPad implementation, SMART Board instruction, blogging, etc., we will kick off our new “Creating a Community of Kindness” initiative (click here for a full description) with our first session with our partner in this project, Jewish Family & Community Services.

All of that AND a series of individual meetings with families, a “Meet & Greet”, and a Middle School Orientation…it will be quite a week!

Two quick bookkeeping notes:

Summers do bring their surprises.  Whilst I was away on vacation, we made a change in the Fourth Grade Assistant Teacher position.  I am pleased to welcome Sara Luettchau to our MJGDS family!  She graduated last year from UNF with her degree in education and brings great enthusiasm and fresh ideas to our team.

On a sadder note, we also said goodbye to Jessie Roman who had been an administrative assistant for the Day School (as well as our Youth Department and Religious School) for the last seven years.  We wish her well in her new endeavor.  As I type, we have narrowed our search to three excellent candidates and look forward to having a new person in place by the start of the school year.

The flip-flops have been replaced by socks and dress shoes.  It is go time!  Can’t wait for Monday!



About Jon Mitzmacher

Dr. Jon Mitzmacher is the Head of Galinsky Academy [which includes the DuBow Preschool, the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School (a K-8 Schechter), the Bernard and Alice Selevan Religious School, and Makom Hebrew High] located in Jacksonville, FL, and part of the Jacksonville Jewish Center. He is the Executive Director Designate of the Schechter Day School Network. Jon has worked in all aspects of Jewish Education from camping to congregations and everything in between.
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