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MIFGASHIM  June 2009

MIFGASHIM June 2009

Subject:

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 77

From:

Lee Buckman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Wed, 10 Jun 2009 14:43:00 +0300

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (231 lines)

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 77



Contents:

1.	Lookstein Podcasts

2.	Education in the News:  What Pediatricians Can Do About Bullying

3.	Heads of School:  Your Role as Board Manager

4.	Marshall Memo: Developing Moral Children



~~~~~~~~~


1.	Lookstein Podcasts


While the school year is still fresh in your mind, while your students are still in your 
classroom and your colleagues still in the teacher's room, there are a number of 
resources a teacher can take advantage of to make next year easier. This week's 
Classroom Teaching can be listened to at http://www.lookstein.org/podcasts/


~~~~~~~~~


2.	Education in the News:  What Pediatricians Can Do About Bullying

What can pediatricians do to help address the problem of bullying at school?  

The New York Times writer Perri Klass, MD, writes:

“So what should I ask at a checkup? How’s school, who are your friends, what do you 
usually do at recess? It’s important to open the door, especially with children in the most 
likely age groups, so that victims and bystanders won’t be afraid to speak up. Parents of 
these children need to be encouraged to demand that schools take action, and 
pediatricians probably need to be ready to talk to the principal. And we need to follow up 
with the children to make sure the situation gets better, and to check in on their 
emotional health and get them help if they need it.”

See www.nytimes.com/2009/06/09/health/09klas.html for more.


~~~~~~~~~


3.	Heads of School:  Your Role as Board Manager

William J. Bennington and Mal Brett Schwartz from the Institute for Nonprofit Excellence 
have written “Managing Your Board: Tips and Tactics for CEOs.”

Their wise advice is valuable for day school heads.

"When a board of directors considers the performance of a CEO or Executive Director, the 
evaluation will often be influenced more by the perceived value of the individual the 
board is evaluating than actual results."

In consulting with and presenting to more than 20,000 CEOs, Executive Directors and 
Board members of nonprofit organizations worldwide over the past 20 years, the two 
issues most frequently encountered around the Board/chief executive relationship are

1. measurement of executive performance, and
2. "the board's meddling in day to day operations."

At the Institute for Nonprofit Excellence we have found there are ten time-tested 
strategies and a few good tactics that do help CEOs and Executive Directors "manage" the 
Board, to improve their working relationship and to convince the Board to buy in to their 
agenda. They are:

Ten Time Tested Strategies

1. No Surprises: Good news, bad news - your Board (starting with the Chair) deserves to 
know as soon as you do if there is an issue or major development that deserves Board 
attention. When a critical issue emerges, engage the Board immediately, usually through 
the most senior available member in the chain of command.

2. Board Empathy: Develop a high-level of understanding as to what is important to the 
Board and become a source of information, insight and input. Understand the Board's 
problems and agenda and put that knowledge to work to increase your perceived value as 
an asset.

3. Nurture the Chair: Begin by solidifying your relationship with the board chair, and 
make contact at least every week. Here are a couple of tips:

•	Ask the chair the question, "Is there anything I can help you with today?
•	Provide an enthusiastic response to a request or a cheery good morning or good 
evening, etc.
•	Keep the Chair posted on industry or issue trends and news.

This all adds up to better relations with the most important ally you can have.

4. Keep them Informed: Keep your Board Chair informed of what you are doing and 
become a source of other helpful information. (However, always make sure the 
information you share is of a high level. Providing the board with too much information, 
especially the trivial, opens the door for them to involve themselves in your affairs.)

5. Be the Solution: Never go to your Board with a problem unless you are armed with two 
well thought-out recommendations for resolving the issue at hand. Become a part of the 
solution...not a perceived element of the problem.

6. Seek Help: If you are overwhelmed, ask your Board Chair to help you sort out the 
priorities. The most effective way to avoid being overwhelmed is through the use of a 
strategic plan.

7. Get Along: Love your Board. Hate your Board. But get along with your Board. (Note: 
This does not suggest that you should develop close personal relationships with Board 
members, which in most cases are best to avoid in as much as such relationships create 
possibilities of conflict and can often lead to other problems - for you and among 
members of the Board).

8. Gain Confidence: Remember that a huge percentage of the reasons Boards meddle in 
the day to day operations of an agency stem from a lack of confidence in the CEO's ability 
to successfully manage the organization.

9. Communicate: It's as much your responsibility as your Board's to create and maintain 
an effective working relationship. However, you are the one responsible for the quality of 
communication with your Board. The key to good communications with the board is 
balance. Too little or too much communication can lead to problems.

10. Keep Your Promises: Keep your commitments to your Board and meet the deadlines 
you and the Board have agreed to. If a deadline is unreasonable, negotiate (or attempt 
to) up front. If things go wrong, revert to rule # 1, no surprises. Never put your Board in 
a position where the Chair will have to ask you for something you promised, committed 
to or the Board requested and you agreed to provide.

For other tips, see http://www.mbsa.info/institute.php.


~~~~~~~~~


4.	Marshall Memo: Developing Moral Children

In this Educational Leadership article, Harvard professor and author Richard Weissbourd 
describes the feelings he and his wife have at a high school back-to-school night. Two 
teachers take them through “the same dreary ritual” – their son’s test scores, a comment 
about his being distracted and not listening, but still, he’s “a good kid.” Weissbourd is 
discouraged. “I don’t sense that either of these teachers truly knows my son,” he says. 
The boy had told then that he didn’t like one of these teachers and regarded one of the 
classes as “hell,” but neither teacher seems to be in touch with that. 
	
But then a third teacher connects. She has specific compliments – their son isn’t afraid to 
seem “dumb” asking questions, he gets along with a range of classmates, wants to be 
helpful, and never interrupts her or is rude. She echoes the other teachers’ comment 
about his sometimes seeming distracted – buy has a theory: it seems to happen when he 
is asked to do a repetitive task. This helps Weissbourd understand “something about my 
son that has been opaque to me.” The teacher asks how the parents think the boy is 
doing and listens carefully. “I feel that we are in a common project together,” says 
Weissbourd, “one that is academic but also moral – the project of raising a whole person 
and a good person. I have to resist the temptation to envelop her in a bear hug.”

Many schools are trying to teach values, he says, but few are successful and “students 
tend to sniff out exactly how half-baked most character-education programs are.” 
Weissbourd believes that’s because schools aren’t dealing with the heart of the matter – 
the nature of the relationships that schools establish and the one relationship that’s most 
important in developing students’ moral compass: between parent and child. 

He says that schools should be working to get teachers and parents “to examine their 
own values, moral abilities, and attitudes; reflect on the school as a moral environment; 
and strive together to ensure that students grow up to be good people…” In parent-
teacher conferences, he suggests that parents start with a positive comment the child has 
made about the teacher and the teacher start with a strength the child is demonstrating in 
the classroom. This can kick off conferences with a completely different tone. It can also 
shift the conversation to What are we going to do?

Ideally (as happened in the case of the third conference Weissbourd described), teachers 
and parents mentor each other. “In the best relationships,” he says, “both parents and 
teachers can be vulnerable and self-aware, thinking together about how they might better 
handle a child’s trouble, and pooling their knowledge to understand the many interacting 
factors that may undermine a child’s capacity for caring and responsibility.” 

They might figure out, for example, how to handle a girl who is acting arrogant and 
entitled with other children (her every whim is catered to at home), or a boy who is surly 
and superior with his teacher (he’s furious with his father, who has just left his wife for a 
much younger woman). 

But it’s difficult for teachers to open up and work closely with parents, especially at the 
high-school level. Teachers are stressed and overextended, and it’s sometimes hard for 
teachers to see that a parent who comes across as arrogant and entitled is actually 
terrified about losing control over their child and handing over him or her to a stranger. 
The school’s challenge is to bridge these chasms and help parents see beyond their own 
children’s interests to the broader moral community. 

Weissbourd suggests that schools “clearly articulate their moral goals and expectations 
for both parents and students through moral charters – clear, visible statements of a 
school’s values… They need to live and breathe not only in classrooms, but also in every 
aspect of school life.” 

Weissbourd touts two character-development programs – the Child Development Project 
and Open Circle – in which teachers guide students in structured exercises to help them 
take others’ perspectives, solve classroom problems, and develop values. 

“Students are far more likely to embrace a rule or value when, instead of having an adult 
dictate that rule or value, they come to it through their most prized capacity – their 
ability to think,” he says. Well-structured community service programs also help, as does 
contact with moral exemplars – men and women of strong conviction who are working to 
improve the world.

“The Schools We Mean to Be” by Richard Weissbourd in Educational Leadership, May 2009 
(Vol. 66, #8, p. 26-31); this article can be purchased at
http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/current_issue.aspx 

__________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________

The Mifgashim List is a project of
The Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora,
The School of Education, Bar Ilan University

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