Summer Bloggin’

Flip flops.

If I only had one image to distinguish between the school year and the summertime, this would be it. My goal each year is to wear no socks between the last day of school and the first day of Faculty Pre-Planning in mid-August.  This is typically the only summer goal I am guaranteed to meet as I, like many, have a stack of books and projects on hold from the workaday school year to make my way through.  But in the spirit of buying new running shoes to shame oneself into exercising, I thought I would publicly out my summer agenda with the hope that it will similarly inspire me to make some headway.

First up?  Hire the rest of the faculty!  I blogged, here, about our amazing lineup of teachers and staff for 2012-2013 and the few positions still to be filled.  We wrapped up Faculty Post-Planning on Tuesday and began interviews yesterday.  We have some good candidates and I expect to have two or three out of the four openings filled within a couple of weeks (Kindergarten Assistant, Fourth Grade Assistant and Middle School Math).  One takeaway from the process is how much clearer I am able to be about who we are as a school and who we think would make a good fit for our faculty.  I am pleased after two years to have such clarity and am grateful to our faculty and lay leadership that we have reached this place.  As the names become finalized, I will share, but this is one summer goal that will rightfully be achieved as quickly (and correctly) as possible.

Speaking of “Post-Planning”…earlier this week we had a wonderful two-day seminar with new and returning faculty to plant seeds to be sown upon our return in August.  Topics included:

  • End-of-Year Reflection
  • AR/STAR Reading
  • “Learning to blog FOR your students”
  • iPads in the Classroom
  • “How will I spend my summer vacation?”

The last session involved a conversation about our mutual responsibility to continue collaborative professional development through the summer, which for us will include required participation in one of four Summer Book Clubs that we have created and added to our faculty ning.  Each Book Club will be moderated by a member of our 21st Century Learning Team.  Each teacher will be required to create a product (they choose the form) that demonstrates their professional learning that will be shared during Pre-Planning.

If we ask all of our students to do “Summer Reading” and “Math Review” and we are the role models for lifelong learning, do we not have a responsibility to do no less?

So what will we be reading this summer that will positively impact our craft?

Book Club: OutliersIn this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.  -Amazon

Book Club: Who Owns the Learning?by Alan November [Spoiler Alert: Our school is mentioned in the book!]  Learn how to harness students’ natural curiosity to develop self-directed learners. Discover how technology allows students to take ownership of their learning, create and share learning tools, and participate in work that is meaningful to them and others. Real-life examples illustrate how every student can become a teacher and a global publisher.  Link to Amazon (Paper Book) Link to Amazon (Kindle Edition)

Book Club: 21st Century SkillsThis club will discuss James Bellanca’s anthology, 21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn (2010.)

I am going to do my very best to read all four this summer in addition to my own professional development reading, which I’ve been tweeting about and will blog about later on down the road.

What else is on tap?

Preparing for the official launch of Galinsky Academy!

I blogged at length about the vision for our new “academy” approach to Jewish education at the Jacksonville Jewish Center, here.  It is amazing that one year after the dream was dreamt it will come true this July.  In addition to all the other tasks required to successfully launch, our summer will be spent thinking, planning and developing a branding and marketing approach for the academy and its member schools.  It is an extraordinarily exciting time as our newly named DuBow Preschool is being physically transformed this summer so its facility’s excellence matches its programatic.  Renovation moves to the second story of the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School to match last summer’s amazing transformation.  The Bernard & Alice Selevan Religious School will add its very own support staff person this July to enhance customer service and is working this summer to build on last year’s successful launch of a pilot program in Grade Three modeled after the successful Project Etgar it already uses in middle school grades.  And our Makom Hebrew High looks to build momentum heading into its third year.

Sounds like a full summer!

And since this is the first summer since 2003 (!) that I will not have the psychic weight of working on my doctorate…I guess I’ll also spend time with my wife, daughters, friends and family.  [Insert gratuitous photo.]

Yes, summer vacation has officially begun.  But the learning and growing never ceases…it just goes barefoot.



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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4 Responses to Summer Bloggin’

  1. avatar Dwayne says:

    Loved the blog post and shared it with a few friends! Great “stuff”.

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