Dr. B's Blog
DR. B’s BLOG
It seems like yesterday that we just started our school year - as they say ..."time flies when you are experiencing excellence!"
· Advanced Math Instruction for Middle School;
· Specialized group and individualized student counseling programs;
· Structured Sports and Physical Education Program;
· Field trips to Museums, Nature and Science Centers and other places of interest which beautifully compliment classroom learning;
· Differentiated Instruction Coaching for school faculty;
· Established a Department of Student Exceptionalities which leverage and provide services to our diverse students;
· Language Arts Program focused intensively on reading and writing literacy;
· Digital Citizenship Initiative which informs students, teachers and parents regarding best practices in social media use;
· Teacher assessment program which assesses teacher performance and classroom effectiveness;
· "MAP" Testing Protocol which measures academic growth and performance three times a year in Math and Language Arts;
· Teacher Professional Growth and Development Plan for 2018-19 implementation;
· Student discipline protocol which holds students and parents more accountable for student behavior;
· Specialized training for Computer coding and gaming;
· Science Exploration Projects in Elementary School;
· Creative Writing Lab for Middle School which produced our beautiful Literary Magazine; and
· Developed new Homework Policy Guidelines, based upon comprehensive research, analysis and deliberation.
These school initiatives represent but a small array of exciting initiatives at HACS. They are the direct result of a phenomenal faculty; highly skilled in their academic disciplines, passionately committed to cognitive, emotional and social development, our administration’s leadership who continuously promote and encourage educational excellence; and most important, the school-parent partnership - an essential ingredient for effective 21st century day school education.
Last week's horrific shootings at the Stoneman Douglas High School, (only a few short miles from HACS) has shaken the very core of our community's foundation; and, has now become what the media is unfortunately and sadly labeling as "society's new normal".
At the Hebrew Academy Community School, we recently completed two very successful Parent/Teacher Conferences for grades K-8. The reactions and feedback we received from parents and teachers regarding the nature and scope of these individual conversations, were extremely positive and most valuable. In fact, we will be distributing a parent survey in order to validate this feedback.
As we know, the primary purpose of parent/teacher conferences is to ensure that parents have a clear perspective regarding the strengths and weaknesses of their children, and to explore ways (in partnership with teachers) to improve and ensure greater student academic growth (in Judaic and General studies) as well as their social/emotional development. It also affords our teachers the opportunity to hear directly from parents regarding their ideas, perceptions and concerns -- a sine qua non for effective parent-teacher relations and communications.
Transcending these important conversations needs to be a concerted effort and commitment to continued parent-teacher dialogue throughout the year. More often than not, these conferences are one-shot exchanges which only warrant follow-up if and when there are major problems or challenges facing the student.
This reality begs a series of Jewish Day school challenges which are not necessarily specific or unique to HACS. Some of generic challenges include, but, are not limited to the following questions:
- How often do our parents check-in with teachers during the course of the year, beyond parent-teacher conferences?
- How often, do parents share their concerns with teachers and/or the administration about their children in order to ensure that the school staff are sensitive to specific or unique dynamics of the home?
- How often do parents respond to requests for information in a time basis?
- How often do parents discuss with their children the reasons why a course of disciplinary action was taken by the teacher as a result of specific misbehavior or disruption in class?
- How often do parents actually check the school's student assessment "dashboard" (in our case RenWeb), in order to stay abreast of their child's academic progress in school?
- How often do parents share with teachers and the administration successful and positive feedback about how their children are learning in school and at home?
- How often do teachers hear about how parents and families celebrate the success of a child's progress in school and at home?
- How often do parents get involved in the ongoing volunteer activities of the school?
- How often do parents talk less than positively about the school, the teachers and administration in the presence and earshot of their children, whether it be at home, the market, in shul or in carpool?
These unfiltered conversations can obviously have a less than positive impact on children, and must be addressed responsibly.These are just a few of the many challenges we face when trying to address and support an environment for effective "parent-school partnerships".
It's obvious that this "partnership" swings both ways. We at HACS are profoundly committed to this challenge. We are continuously discussing and offering suggestions regarding our evolving role as school-parent partners.
Critical to this challenge will be to create the right conditions in our school and community which support a school culture that promotes and celebrates this evolving "partnership".
To quote one of my close mentors....."we have the best school and best talmidim and talmidot any school can be privileged to have.....the real challenge is, how do we bring their parents on board?"
The rest is commentary....
Please feel free to respond to this BLOG with your suggestions, comments and ideas. After all, that's what the "partnership" is all about.