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MIFGASHIM  January 2009

MIFGASHIM January 2009

Subject:

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 41

From:

Lee Buckman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Wed, 28 Jan 2009 07:46:31 +0200

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text/plain

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Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 41


Contents:

1.	How do we judge the quality of our academic programs? (Harris, Shaviv, Lewis)

2.	Global Chevruta

3.	Marshall Memo: Marshall Memo:  Warm and Competent—Can People Be Both?


~~~~~~~~~



1. 	How do we judge the quality of our academic programs? (Harris, Shaviv, Lewis)


We are an elementary school - JK-Grade 8. We have various methods of data collection 
to measure the academic quality of our school:

1.  In general studies we voluntarily participate (and pay for the privilege of
doing so) in the grade 3 and 6 provincial assessments of students.  We have done so for 
the last 10 years since the inception of the assessments. We share the results with our 
Board and parent body.  We carefully analyze the results with our staff and use them to 
inform our planning.

2.  Every few years we survey our graduates in January of their first year of high school.  
This gives us valuable quantitative and qualitative data on how well prepared they are in 
both general and Jewish studies for high school.

3.  Each year members of our administration and teachers meet with teachers from 
CHAT, our community Jewish high school, to get feedback from them on how well 
prepared our students are for high school in both general and Jewish studies.

4. We get informal anecdotal feedback from our graduates when they come back to our 
school to volunteer in various capacities.

5. Members of our Board conduct exit interviews with the parents of students who leave 
our school


Shana Harris
Head of School
Bialik Hebrew Day School
[log in to unmask]


~~~~~~~~~


Our moderator states that: 
“…. with nearly 100% of our students going to the college of their choice, with truancy 
almost zero, with a home environment that supports the mission of the school, the 
benchmarks of excellence that are typically used in public schools are not relevant.  
Every day school would score in the "excellent" range. “

I am not sure that the “not relevant” comment is really valid.   Those facts stand by 
themselves, and they are indeed indications of quality.  They should not be so easily 
discounted.

High school graduates in Ontario compete for University places on the basis of their final 
marks in six designated “U” level courses – which in the case of TanenbaumCHAT 
graduates typically include two or sometimes more Jewish Studies courses. We judge our 
overall academic success by a series of benchmarks – statistical and anecdotal. 

They include:
•	An outstanding record of university entrance – over 90% of our students gain 
entrance to their first-choice University and course, and nearly all to their first or second 
choice.  As a community school, we have a very wide ability range at intake.  In eleven 
years at the school (2,500 graduates), I cannot recall a graduate who applied to 
University and was not offered a place.  

•	A professionally-implemented survey of our Alumni taken a year or so ago showed 
that exactly 60% of our alumni went on the graduate studies (M.A., Ph.D., law school, 
medical school etc) or further professional qualifications – probably 20 or 30 times the 
Canadian average.  In the same survey, our alumni heavily endorsed the quality of the 
education they had received as preparation for their University studies.

•	We receive ongoing, unsolicited tributes to the quality of the academic training of 
our graduates from a variety of Universities – examples include “My faculty tell me that 
they can spot the TanenbaumCHAT graduates in the first lecture of every year.  They are 
the ones taking the most systematic notes and asking the best questions” (a senior Dean 
at the University of Toronto);  a science lecturer at another Ontario University opened his 
address to first-year students with the following statement “Many of you will fail this 
course. The rest of you will probably get marks in the 60’s. But if you come from a school 
called CHAT in Toronto you’ll be OK”.

•	Our grads returning to visit the school report that “first year Uni is a breeze 
compared to Grade 12 at TanenbaumCHAT”


•	I cannot resist adding that the same survey showed that no less than 12% of our 
alumni are education professionals (exactly 10% of our faculty are our own graduates)
There is also the evidence of the market place.  Every one of our students has other 
choices of where to go to school.  If we did not give an outstanding education – and if our 
parents didn’t know that -- we would not be recruiting over 400 new students a year.  I 
believe that to be the largest recruitment of any independent school in Canada, and 
possibly further afield.  

Finally, there is the element of vision.  Our moderator seeks to distinguish between ‘good’ 
and ‘excellent’.  I believe that there is a third category, to which we aspire: the small 
number of ‘truly great’ schools. [Criteria for which are discussed in my long-coming book 
- now nearing publication -- on the management and leadership of Jewish High schools!].

Paul Shaviv
Director of Education
TanenbaumCHAT, Toronto


~~~~~~~~~


I think the question gets to what we mean by quality of a general studies education. I 
know we could look to test scores, college acceptance rates, etc. but these are all proxies 
for something, and they're pretty badly designed as measures for the qualities that we 
ultimately really care about. 

I answer this question as a mom as much as I do as an educator. 

I think we want our kids to find ideas and subjects in school they are passionate about 
and want to pursue beyond the confines of the classroom. What is their engagement with 
ideas and academic pursuits outside of what is required in school? Do our students attend 
plays with their friends, go to book stores or libraries and choose to read great literature 
on their own, try out puzzles, build things, write music-- all somehow sparked by 
something they did in school? 

Do they try to solve problems on their own, and enlist the help of others at various 
junctures? Are they involved in hesed and social action efforts outside of the school 
program? Do they go to museums and connect what they see there to things they've read 
or talked about at school? Do they go to poetry slams? Calculate what it will cost them 
for a road trip, and then figure out how to service the car themselves? etc. 

B'kitsur, I think we want to look outside of school and proximal measures of school 
achievement to really have a sense of the quality of our general studies programs. What 
do students take with them into other realms of their lives that they learned from school? 
How do they use the skills they've acquired to create and find meaning in new contexts? 
Do they feel a sense of agency in the world that the skills support? Do they live in a way 
that celebrates the life of the mind?

Jenny Lewis
Research Associate, School of Education
The University of Michigan
[log in to unmask]


~~~~~~~~~


2.	Global Chevruta


Each month we post one rabbinic text that is intended to provoke reflection and 
discussion about teaching and learning.  We welcome submissions of your favorite texts 
on pedagogy and certainly value your responses as well.  

Thanks go to Rabbi Dr. Ariel Picard, Director of the Shalom Hartman Institute Center for 
Education, who submitted the text posted for Chodesh Sh’vat.


Nedarim 81a:
They sent word from Eretz Yisrael:  Be careful not to neglect the children (the teaching) 
of the poor, for from them Torah goes forth, as it is written in Numbers 24:7, “The water 
shall flow out of his buckets meaning from the “dallim” (poor, a pun on the Hebrew for 
buckets) among them goes forth Torah.

Why is it uncommon for talmidei chachamim to give birth to children who are talmidei 
chachamim, i.e. who follow in their footsteps?

Rav Yosef said: That it might not be asserted:  That the Torah is their inheritance (and it 
is not necessary for us to study torah).

Rav Shisha, the son of Rav Idi, said: That they should not be arrogant towards the 
community.  (The Ran explains that if the Torah were to remain in one family, it would 
consolidate too much power in one family.)

Mar Zutra said: Because they definitely would become conceited.  (The Maraharsha states 
that the previous opinion was to prevent arrogance, but this opinion seems to understand 
it as a punishment to the talmidei chachamim for being arrogant on the tzibur.)

Rav Ashi said: Because they call people asses.  (Rashi explains they don't honor people 
properly. Maharsha explains that they consider others not having the inherent ability and 
genetic brainpower to become talmidei chachamim--like donkeys who don't have the 
potential; therefore they are punished by their own children not being talmidei 
chachamim which shows that that it is not inborn by nature, rather is only a result of hard 
work.)

Ravina said: Because they do not first recite a blessing over the Torah.


~~~~~~~~~
 

3.	Marshall Memo:  Warm and Competent—Can People Be Both?

“When we encounter someone new, we quickly seek answers to two questions rooted in 
the evolutionary need to make correct survival decisions,” says Amy Cuddy in this 
Harvard Business Review article: “What are this person’s intentions toward me? and is 
this person capable of acting on those intentions?” 

Put more simply, are they warm and are they competent? This happens all the time in 
schools: teachers size up students, students size up their teachers, and administrators 
assess their staffs.

Psychological research in 24 countries has revealed that this quick assessment of people 
is remarkably consistent, says Cuddy, as is the way we act on our perceptions: “We like 
to assist people we view as warm and block those we see as cold,” she says; “we desire 
to associate with people we consider competent and ignore those we consider 
incompetent.”
	
Unfortunately, people’s perceptions are often skewed by stereotypes, which can lead 
managers to trust unworthy colleagues and undervalue valuable colleagues. For example, 
many people feel warmly toward the elderly but disrespect them because they believe 
they are less competent. And the same is true of mothers in the workplace, who are 
regarded warmly but are often stereotyped as less competent – with the result that they 
are under-promoted and underpaid.
	
Another unfortunate dynamic is that people tend to see warmth and competence as 
inversely related.  In other words, if people are sweet, they’re probably not competent, 
and if they’re competent, they’re probably not that nice. 

Cuddy has two pieces of advice to help managers avoid “the high cost of mistaken 
judgments”:

	• Don’t make snap judgments. Push yourself to be aware of how you form 
impressions. Avoid sizing people up on the basis of stereotypical perceptions of warmth 
and competence.

	• Separate the two dimensions. “It’s not a zero-sum game,” says Cuddy. “Warmth 
and competence aren’t mutually exclusive.” People are capable of both.

“Just Because I’m Nice, Don’t Assume I’m Dumb” by Amy Cuddy in Harvard Business 
Review, February 2009 (Vol. 87, #2, p. 24), no e-link available

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