Dr. B's Blog
DR. B’s BLOG
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.
Now that the Holidays and the hurricanes are behind us (we hope), we are moving on to uninterrupted academics. This is evidenced by the inspiring teaching and learning taking place in our classrooms.
All of this exciting, intensive activity is, in addition, to our recent launch of MAP - Measuring Academic Progress, Florida’s new student assessment tool which replaces IOWA'S. This is being administered, across all grade levels, three times a year and will provide us with baseline data upon which to measure student academic progress. Results of our first MAP test are expected in two weeks.
At the top of our list of challenges (read opportunities) is the need to ensure that all of our students are receiving, in-real-time, academic and social support. To this end, faculty and administration are in constant touch to monitor student progress. What we do need, is parent- partners letting us know how you feel your children are progressing. Your input is essential. Please note that interim progress reports are being sent to you shortly. Please review these reports with your child(ren).
Our STEM program is moving full steam ahead (no pun intended). Keep an eye out for our new inaugural STEM Newsletter for a fuller perspective regarding this critically important science program.
School library is in full swing! Encourage your children to borrow books. We’ve added several outstanding books to our collection. Undoubtedly, continuous reading is a value and skill-set that will benefit you children for years to come.
Please take the time to ask your child about what he-she is learning at school. Your on-going interest in your child's education is the best reinforcement. These conversations not only express your interest in your child, but also indicates that learning is important.
The Student Homework Task Force’s last meeting is scheduled for next week. Following these deliberations, we will be formulating and disseminating our new Student Homework policy, confident that it will be anchored in best practices.
Thank you for your partnership.
First, my heartfelt gratitude to the "HACS Family" for its kind condolences upon the passing of my dear brother, Avraham Reuven ben HaRav Yisroel Eliezer, z'l. May he be a Meilitz Yosher. Your kind wishes were profoundly appreciated..
The recent hurricanes reminded us how vulnerable and fragile we are as a society. At the same time, we as a Jewish community also witnessed a fortitude, resiliency and deep commitment to the welfare of our brothers and sisters who needed food, comfort and safety.
One of those many bright lights was our School's unswerving commitment to achdut/unity and Jewish education. Not deterred by the hurricane, we met in three different locations proudly staffed by our amazing faculty. This is but one example of the ways in which HACS is passionately committed to the continued education of our children, irrespective of the challenges we face.
We also completed (A) our second round of deliberations of the HACS Student Homework Task Force and are still on track to outline our policy recommendations by mid-November; (B) our first STEM curricular unit on "the glow stick" and (C) the Digital Citizenship teacher/parent workshops.
We also have developed an internal reporting system for timely student and parent follow up; conferenced on students with varying learning needs; formalized our Physical Education program with two outstanding Physical Ed coaches; and, introduced a wide variety of outcomes-based general studies curricular goals, per subject area. All of this is taking place while faculty prepares exciting and meaningful field trips. It’s been a roller-coaster time, But it's also been filled with educational vigor, commitment and dedication.
As we approach Yom Kippur may we all be blessed with tremendous health and unlimited capacity to build upon our past accomplishments with an eye towards renewal and educational excellence.
G'mar Chasima Tova and have a beautiful Chag Sukkot (moadim l’simcha).
The HACS spirit is definitely in the air. In truth, even before the bell rang, HACS had an amazing week of exciting and inspiring activity; teacher planning conferences, consultations, schlepping textbooks, educational materials and supplies, bulletin board decorating, classroom scheduling and preparations; meetings with parents, teachers and staff; student placement exams; two "Digital Citizenship" teacher seminars and two professional development sessions on Differentiated Instruction......and the list goes on.
BUT, there was much more....
All of this phenomenal activity took place while classroom doors were being replaced, air conditioning units were installed, there were major electrical and computer upgrades; new lighting panels were connected, interior and exterior painting, and major resurfacing of our playground with fresh, attractive and child-safe turf. WOW!
The most amazing aspect (from my perspective) was the remarkable energy generated by staff, teachers and administration, irrespective of the surrounding physical (and sometimes distracting) noises and physical obstacles. Our staff worked around the distractions and stayed focused on the important tasks.
In witnessing this incredible confluence of exciting activity, I was struck and awe-inspired by the profound abundance of happiness, joy, positive energy, excitement and smiling staff. It felt like we were building our own homes for our children.....all with care, anticipation, due diligence, love, commitment, passion and conviction.
It soon dawned on me that this is exactly what HACS is all about!! Indeed, we are building "our" home for "our" children’s bright futures.
As we create the spiritual, physical and academic environment, conducive to high quality teaching and student learning, we are also building a strong foundation upon which our students will develop. That is 21st century effective schooling. We are not only "doing it" we are "living it."
See you all after the bell rings......