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MIFGASHIM  April 2009

MIFGASHIM April 2009

Subject:

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 63

From:

Lee Buckman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Wed, 22 Apr 2009 13:17:12 +0300

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (137 lines)

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 63



Contents:

1.	Lookstein Podcast:  End of Year Accomplishments
2.	Responses:  Staff Morale (Berkowitz)
3.	Marshall Memo: Tips to Get Students Writing (in English and Hebrew)


~~~~~~~~~


1.	Lookstein Podcast:  End of Year Accomplishments


Classroom Teaching is back with five suggestions to help the students end the year with a 
sense of pride and accomplishment in their achievements. 

Listen or subscribe at http://www.lookstein.org/podcasts/025_042109.mp3


~~~~~~~~~


2.	Responses:  Staff Morale (Berkowitz)

I'd like to share my perspective as a non-educator on the essay dealing with beating the 
midwinter staff blues.

First, suggestions numbers 3 (Put together a strong peer-mentoring program that 
promotes ongoing personal growth for all teachers) and 4 (Visit classes throughout the 
year not just to provide feedback but so that you know all the great things going on in 
classrooms; then acknowledge those highlights) on the first list and 4 (Be transparent 
about any unforeseen problems, e.g. the recession, and how the school is responding) on 
the second seem to be unrelated to the specific problem of winter depression.

Second, I also have this nagging feeling that it’s worth trying to understand why you think 
this is an issue and why you think these are legitimate solutions.  

I say this as one of the many, many people who spend forty-or-more hours a week in an 
office and get maybe three weeks of vacation a year, and whose workplaces do nothing 
more to recognize the winter than turn the heat on.

It could be that you’re simply doing something that all employers should do.  Or, possibly, 
despite their generally shorter work hours and their huge vacations, educators are in 
particular need of a mid-winter pick-me-up.  

If so, it could be because the atmosphere around unruly masses of children held against 
their will is particularly stressful; or because educators are always struggling 
economically; or because teaching is an inherently tense activity, demanding tremendous 
concentration – like neurosurgery; or because the profession, for one reason or another; 
attracts high-strung individuals, like opera.

It’s also possible that the educational fad of coddling students has spilled over into 
coddling teachers.  Or, perhaps, the special-ed/special-needs/no-child-left-behind spirit of 
modern education is geared to assume that every problem has a solution, rather than to 
say “Life is like that sometimes – even in Australia.”

I’m not implying a preference for any of these explanations, and I’m sure the list is far 
from exhaustive.  I do think, though, that it’s a question worth answering.  

Personally, I probably wouldn’t go any further than hanging a sign in the teachers’ lounge 
saying “Who says April is the cruelest month?!”

Michael Berkowitz
Founder and Chairman of the Board 
Orot Etzion Schools in Efrat and Gush Etzion
[log in to unmask]


~~~~~~~~~


3.	Marshall Memo: Tips to Get Students Writing (in English and Hebrew)

In this Reading Today column, author Margriet Ruurs suggests some ideas for jump-
starting children’s writing that can be implemented both in English classes and in Ivrit 
classes:
	
• What if…? is a great device for sparking fictional stories, says Ruurs. Here are some of 
her ideas:
What if… your dog could talk?
What if… your bicycle could fly?
What if… your teacher was an alien?
What if… you turned out to be a princess?
Students might make their own list of “what if” ideas and then choose one to write a 
story or poem.

• Surprise! Think of a time you were very surprised and try to remember the details, who 
was there, and how it felt. Now make up a fictional person, make up details (name, age, 
etc.), and write a story in which that person is involved in your surprise, complete with 
details on when and where it happened and how the character feels.

• Story starters – Ruurs has these three pump-primers; students choose one and write 
the rest of the story:

“Jason knew he shouldn’t be waiting for Greg. He knew that the bell was about to ring. 
Mrs. Jackson would be mad if he came in late. But he just had to find out why Greg had 
gone into that alley. And why hadn’t he come back yet?”
“‘Stacey Jacobs!’ The teacher’s voice was loud. Stacey was startled out of her daydream 
and back into the classroom. She had no idea what he had asked her, but all the children 
were staring at her. She took a deep breath and said…”
“The dog came out of nowhere. It ran across the square, in between two parked cars, and 
then straight toward me. I didn’t know what to do. If I didn’t pretend this was my dog, the 
cops would catch it and take it to the S.P.C.A. And then what would happen to him? So I 
didn’t think much, I just…”

“Write Away! Story Starters: Yeast for the Imagination” by Margriet Ruurs in Reading 
Today, April/May 2009 (Vol. 26, #5, p. 38), no e-link
Back to page one

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