An edJEWcon Reflection



How’s that for an honest and succinct reflection!  But that is truly how I feel coming out of an experience unlike any I have ever had.  I feel equal parts “proud parent”, “exhausted midwife”, “exhilarated student”, and “inspired principal”.

First, here are some facts:

We had twenty-one amazing school teams for this first conference on 21st century Jewish day school education:

We had amazing sponsors:

We had amazing partners:

We had amazing major keynotes: Heidi Hayes Jacobs and Angela Maiers.

We had one extra-special partner, Mike Fisher, without whom the conference would not not have been the same.

I had a team unlike no other.  I use the word “midwife” to partially describe my experience, because truthfully this was conceived prior to my arrival.  It began with Andrea Hernandez and moved forward with Silvia Tolisano.  I was blessed to arrive in the right time and in the right place.  I’ve played my part, but without the foundation they built over the last four years, none of this would have been possible.  Our story and the story of edJEWcon 5772.0 is partially contained in our opening keynote:

You can begin to grasp the impact of the conference by flipping through the blogs written by the school teams (here) and the partners (here).  Angela Maiers shocked the house and stimulated the most amount of tweets and “ah’s” when she showed us a site that tracks Twitter activity that showed us that our conference of under 100 had reached over 117,000 people within 24 hours.  The outpouring of positivity is extraordinary.  The proud parent in me is thrilled to see so many firsts – first blog posts written and first Tweets abound.  It is a cornucopia of shehecheyanu moments – blessings of firsts and blessings for having been there in that place and at that time.

My full live blog of Heidi Hayes Jacobs’ keynote (here) is a series of exclamation points from a breathless schoolgirl.  [Much less sophisticated than Mike Fisher’s! (here)]  Here is the exhilarated student in me:

  • What an extraordinary thrill to have Heidi Hayes Jacobs speaking at our school and at edJEWcon!
  • She opened by giving a shout out to the MJGDS Middle School!
  • The Hebrew root for “teach” is also to “learn”.
  • “Strategic Replacement” – Remember it!
  • All MS students have been paired with an adult to help them use TodaysMeet – edJEWcon.  We are all now all on TodaysMeet and beginning to dialogue.  She is sharing why TodaysMeet is better for some functions than Twitter.  It is closed and temporary.
  • You can save the transcript and use it in the future!
  • Next bookmark is the Curriculum
  • People are now moving into groups of three or four for an activity. is a new site for many.  It is also an app for the iPad.
  • The goal for everyone is to leave “emotionally disturbed”!
  • Who owns the learning?  The student!
  • The back-channel conversation on TodaysMeet is dynamic.  I am selfishly proud of our students who are contributing great feedback
  • Heads of schools should have steering wheels to give them illusion of control.
  • …this is about adult discomfort.  Ammend your mission statemetnts and be honest about what year are your educating your children for.
  • “Democratized socially created knowledge”
  • All students should learn to create their own app before they graduate.
  • No one learns in a straight line.
  • What you study matters.  Content matters.  And it cannot wait.
  • Text messaging as note taking – great idea.
  • Quality counts.  The tools are great, but we still have to teach quality – quality blogs, quality movie-making, quality Skype – quality, quality, quality.
  • We should eliminate Facuty Meetings and turn them into opportunities for teachers to explore new tools.
  • Teachers have to be learners in order to teachers.
  • There is no closure!

As for the inspired principal?  I’m over the moon.

This was a tremendous validation for our faculty, parents, students, stakeholders, and our community that the path we have chosen is indeed the right one.  This “21st century learning” thing is no fad and no slogan.  We can become a school who prepares our students to be successful in these modern times.  Or not (as Heidi Hayes Jacobs would say).  We can provide our students with authentic tasks that motivate them to learn and be their best.  Or not.  We can recognize what technology allows us to do.  Or not.  We can take the ideas, suggestions and inspiration from edJEWcon and use them to move our school down the 21st century learning road.  Or not.

We could start planning for edJEWcon 5773.1.  Or not.

What do you think?



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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2 Responses to An edJEWcon Reflection

  1. avatar Andrea & Steven Mail says:

    Congratulations!! Yasher Koach!! It was inspiring to attend the keynotes of edJEWcon as a parent of 3 students, an honor to participate in a teacher/student/parent panel and gratifying to see years of effort and vision materialize into an extraordinary conference that will ultimately impact thousands of educators and students. Looking forward to hearing whether we will be hosting edJEWcon again next year – hope so! Now, please relax, take a deep breath and write your speech for the 50th! :)

  2. Yasher Koach and Mazal Tov to you Jon! I have been following this on line from the beginning. Unable to be there physically, I have been keeping up with as much as I can by reading blogs and comments on the conference. You should be extremely proud and gratified. Kol HaKavod, and I hope to be there next year!

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