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MIFGASHIM  December 2015

MIFGASHIM December 2015

Subject:

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 355

From:

Lee Buckman <[log in to unmask]>

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Date:

Thu, 24 Dec 2015 12:09:17 +0200

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Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 355


Contents:


1.	Lookstein’s Virtual Jewish Academy

2.	How is my education making me a better person?

3.	Managing change in an organization

4.	The qualities that schools need in a board chair

5.	The innovator’s mindset 

6.	How to determine the culture of an organization

7.	Marshall Memo: Factors affecting morale


~~~~~~~~~


1.	Lookstein’s Virtual Jewish Academy


Scheduling Snag? Differentiation Dilemma? Course Choice Concern?
Don’t worry. It’s not too late!

Address your school’s Judaic studies needs for the spring with Lookstein Virtual Jewish Academy middle and high school courses in Jewish history and Tanach.

Our strong academic record, flexible format, and professional team make it easy for your school to expand course offerings, resolve scheduling conflicts, and offer enrichment opportunities. Address your school's needs with engaging courses featuring virtual Tanach tiyulim, interactive modules, and live sessions taught by master educators in Israel.

New Courses for the Spring:

Middle School Tanach: Themes in Megillat Esther 

In this six-week course, students delve into the story of Megillat Esther, exploring Ancient Persia's court intrigues and royal (and not) characters. What makes a hero? Who is the hero of the Megillah? What impact does a hero have on their society? How do my decisions impact the lives of others? This is mini course can be offered as a stand-alone course or paired with Themes in Megillat Ruth.

High School Tanach: Covenant and Crisis, Shemot 13-40 
As our course opens, Bnei Yisrael are making the transition from slavery to freedom. As the euphoria of the initial steps of freedom wears off, Bnei Yisrael realize that with freedom comes great responsibility. How does God set Bnei Yisrael up for success, and how well do they rise to the challenges along the way? We will follow the path of Bnei Yisrael on their long journey toward freedom and accompany them as they attempt to rise to their greatest challenge yet - forging and maintaining an everlasting covenant with God at the foot of Mount Sinai.

Contact LVJA's Director of Admissions and Marketing, Nili Auerbach at [log in to unmask] to learn more about our courses and SPECIAL DISCOUNTS for spring! Visit our course catalog to learn more.


~~~~~~~~~


2.	How is my education making me a better person?


In his February 11, 2015 eJewishPhilanthropy post, Founder and Director of Ayekah Aryeh Ben David describes two purposes or stages of Jewish education that previously dominated the field: a focus on Jewish literacy in classic sources and a focus on Jewish connection (“How can we make Jewish learning meaningful, engaging, and resonant?”).  He argues that what is needed now is a more practical focus on Jewish living.

He writes:
The first…connected to our minds, asked the question – “What do I know?” The second…connected to our hearts, asked the question – “Am I connected to what I know?” Both stages addressed the needs of their times, and yet both came with ‘shadow-sides’.

We are now ready for the next step, for the third stage of Jewish education: educating for life.  Educating to make us better people.

The third stage of Jewish education asks the questions – “How can I bring my learning into my life? How does what I know and my personal connection to this knowledge change me? How is Jewish education making me a better person?”

2,000 years ago, Judaism instituted the reciting of blessings before eating. The goal of saying a blessing is not only to know the words and meaning of the blessing. The goal of saying the blessing is not only to feel connected to the words of the blessing. The goal of the blessing is ultimately to affect me and transform how I eat. The test of saying a blessing is whether it changes how I actually eat.

Similarly, the goal of learning Torah is not only to know content, and not only to be connected to what I know.  The test of learning Torah is whether it changes how I actually live.

The third approach radically transforms the process of teacher-training and our whole educational system. The test is not how well the student understands the subject matter or how connected the student is to the material, but how much this knowledge and connection affect the student – after the class is over.

Learning well and personally connecting to the subject matter are essential steps in bringing our students to the third stage. We want the “aha” moments of personal awakening and excitement. But these moments are not the ultimate goal of Jewish education.

The most important moment in Jewish education occurs after the class is over – in life. Jewish education needs to give us the tools for becoming our best selves.

Read the full-length article at: http://ejewishphilanthropy.com/the-third-stage-of-jewish-education/


~~~~~~~~~


3.	Managing change in an organization


In December 21, 2015 eJewishPhilanthropy post entitled “The four mindsets your nonprofit needs to lead change in the new year,” DRG Communications Manager Tanisia Morris reports on research that suggests that nonprofits generally manage change poorly.  Often, new initiatives are not part of a larger vision.

Quoting research by Bill Pasmore on continuous change, Tanisia writes:

Think Fewer.

Professionals who work in the nonprofit sector are unified by the universal mission to change the world. But the mission of some nonprofits can become so ambitious that it is beyond their reach. When organizations think fewer, it means that they have set realistic goals that they know that they can accomplish with concrete steps. Your team must first determine how much change it can handle by assessing what issues in its mission are the most pressing. “You can change the world, but you can only do it if you’re focused,” says Pasmore. “You can’t do it if you’re trying to do everything at once.” Instead, get into the habit of narrowing your organization’s priorities.

Think Scarcer.

Considering that many nonprofits have limited resources, they have to be selective about the time, energy, and money that they invest into certain change efforts. “The resources that exist in the organizations in most cases are already working at their limit in terms of their capacity to do much of anything beyond what they’re already doing with the shoestring budget,” explains Pasmore. By thinking scarcer, organizations can also prevent employee burnout. Pasmore adds, “If we don’t think of it as a precious resource and we just keep asking people to do everything, we’re going to get nothing back.”

Think Faster.

If your team is constantly putting off changes or waiting for the right moment to address an issue, you may miss an opportunity to make improvements that can strengthen your organization. Thinking faster isn’t about being reckless. Instead, it’s about being intentional about how you respond to change – even in times of ambiguity. “If you’re slowing down because you’re trying to get it to be perfect, you’re probably wasting time and resources that you shouldn’t be wasting,” says Pasmore. He encourages organizations to take a step forward with the knowledge they have and learn as they go instead of remaining dormant out of fear. “Ultimately, I think it is faster than not getting there at all,” he says. “You need to be changing as quickly as you can to respond to things that are evolving out there. You can’t take so long to catch up that you never catch up.”

Think Smarter.

Learning is at the core of successful change efforts. It’s important to measure the effectiveness of your strategies for leading change and evaluate the performances of the people who are tasked with leading those changes. “We want so much to believe that we already know the answers to everything and we’re good at everything that it’s really hard to stand back and objectively collect information and allow it to influence the ways in which we operate,” says Pasmore. When you think smarter, you’re making a conscious effort to learn from your mistakes and using data and metrics to help you make better decisions. “If you don’t start the whole process of thinking about change with a different mindset and you keep trying to apply the same mindsets that you have then you’re going to wind up in the same place that you’ve always been,” says Pasmore.

In order to safeguard your nonprofit’s future, your leadership team needs to engage in candid discussions about the kinds of changes that will allow it to accomplish more overtime.

“We need to repeat this process on a fairly regular basis and continue to bring in objective information that makes us question what we are doing as required by the world around us,” says Pasmore.
To read the full-length article go to:

http://ejewishphilanthropy.com/the-4-mindsets-your-nonprofit-needs-to-lead-change-in-the-new-year/?utm_source=Mon+Dec+21w%2FFRD&utm_campaign=Mon+Dec+21&utm_medium=email


~~~~~~~~~


4.	The qualities that schools need in a board chair


In his November 14, 2015 post, independent school consultant John Littleford argues that trustees and Heads of School share an interest in specific attributes of the Board Chair.

These are:
Enlightened Intelligence: We need chairs who are bright, quick thinkers, and capable of leading people, companies and embassies. Equally important we need board leaders who can also be humble. Some board chairs are not equipped well enough in this area while others are super stars.

Collaboration: We want chairs who will listen well, promote collaboration among board members and within subcommittees of the board and partner with the head in a spirit of cooperation.

Courage and Strength of Character: There will be one or more times when the Chair will have to stand beside the Head and defend the School and its leadership in a crisis, whether that may be an unpopular difficult decision, an unexpected turn of events or a tragedy affecting the school family. This is a gut instinct that chairs must have.

Warmth and Compassion: We all want board chairs who, while firm and courageous, also have empathy, compassion, and a caring soft side. Heads certainly want evidence of this balance to the “hard-nosed” position chairs may need to take at times.

Family-centered: The chair will be protective of his or her own family and must also understand that the head may have a partner or spouse and family with their own unique needs. Nurturing and caring for the head and the head’s family are among the core roles of the board chair. This includes being attuned to how important the contract renewal process is to the head and to being sensitive about establishing an appropriate head evaluation process and undertaking it seriously and diligently.

A Specific Managerial Skill Set: If a chair has learned to work with a board and has had to hire, mentor and fire employees, he or she will bring an added important dimension to the board room. Managing and working with a group of diverse personalities and guiding, and if necessary, disciplining errant trustees will not be foreign to a chair with these skills and experience.

A Passion for the School and for Education: A genuine passion for the school’s mission, not status or a desire for power, should drive the chair’s motivation for the position.

A Desire for, Not Pursuit of the Role: Those we want to avoid asking are the following: someone who really does NOT want the job or someone who wants the job TOO much or manipulates others out of the job. Talented and valuable board members are often those whom we need to persuade to take it.

The Ability to Spot and Cultivate Talent: The chair needs to be able to identify talent among current and prospective leaders/prospective board members, and some of these talents may be latent and in need of encouragement and development. The chair may need to give certain individuals opportunities to shine

The Ability and Willingness to Take Charge: A chair’s role is to appoint committee chairs, help assign members to committees and be a visible spokesperson for, and representative of the school in the internal and external community. He or she should be authoritative but not arrogant and thus command respect from constituents and outside groups.

The Capacity and Willingness to Give Charitably: The chair must set an example by donating to the school’s annual and capital campaigns within his or her means and certainly at a level that represents personal sacrifice. This is important now even in international schools.

A Sensitivity to Social Issues: It is important that the chair embrace diversity and demonstrate tolerance and open-mindedness that convey to all a willingness to learn.

A Commitment to Serve at Least Three to Five Years: Long-term chairs lead to long-term heads and stable schools, but if circumstances require that a chair step aside, he or she must be willing to do so.

A Commitment to the Time That the Role Requires: Serving as board chair requires significant time away from one’s profession and family. If a chair candidate cannot make this time commitment or if a current chair can no longer devote the time required to the positon, then he or she must step aside. Chairs who find that they are spending an inordinate amount of time at school or on school business may not have an understanding of the role.

An Understanding of Micromanagement: We do not need or want the chair to be present on campus frequently, wandering the halls, visiting classrooms or canvassing teachers and parents about “how the head is doing”. The role of board chair is a volunteer position. He or she leaves personnel, curriculum and day-to-day management functions to the Head and his or her team who are paid to carry them out.

Read more at:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/qualities-schools-desperately-need-board-chair-john-littleford


~~~~~~~~~


5.	The innovator’s mindset 


In an interview with George Couros, author of the book “The Innovator’s Mindset,” Couros explains why it is important for educators to focus on Innovation.  

He writes:
If you look at organizations around the world, if they do not innovate they die.  Blockbuster actually had the opportunity to buy Netflix but there thinking was that they were good with their current business model, and obviously ended up losing an opportunity to become a truly global organization.  Yet many people believe that “innovation” is for someone else, not our own organizations.  If school stays the same while the rest of the world changes, people are going to either find or create something better for our kids.  

One of the ideas is that networks are crucial to innovation…. I realized how much I have learned from connecting with others and blogging about my learning over the last six years.  Stories can truly become the fuel for innovation, and my thinking has been pushed by so many across the world that share their experiences with others…. One of my favourite quotes is from Linus Pauling who says, “the best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.” 

Read more at: http://connectedprincipals.com/archives/12045


~~~~~~~~~


6.	How to determine the culture of an organization


Adam Grant, professor of management and psychology at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and the author of “Originals: How non-conformists move the world” argues that applicants for a job should look not just for a job description and a good salary but also for alignment between one’s values and the organizational culture.  That alignment has a huge impact on success and happiness.

But how do you figure out the culture of a company you’ve never worked for?

Adam Grant suggests: ask people to tell you a story about something that happened at their organization but wouldn’t elsewhere.  Collect stories and see if you can detect a common theme.

Grant cites the research of Stanford professor Joanne Martin who analyzed the stories people told about their workplaces. They discovered an organizational uniqueness bias: People think their cultures are more distinctive than they really are.

He writes:

Across organizations large and small, private and public, from manufacturing to knowledge to service work, Professor Martin’s team found seven stories over and over. “Organizational cultures, and in particular stories, carry a claim to uniqueness — that an institution is unlike any other,” the researchers wrote. But paradoxically, the same stories occur “in virtually identical form, in a wide variety of organizations.”

Far from being bad news, this study allows job seekers to zero in on the important questions about culture. Let’s look at four stories the study identified:

Story 1: Is the Big Boss Human?
The plot involves an authority figure who has a chance to act as if she’s better than everyone else. The insurance company president who takes his turn fielding calls on the company’s switchboard throughout the year: He’s one of us. The executive who doesn’t let anyone use his parking spot — even when he’s on vacation — maintains an air of superiority. This is one of the big debates about Steve Jobs: Was he a narcissist who felt entitled to special treatment or a leader who sought to bring out the excellence in all his employees?

Story 2: Can the Little Person Rise to the Top?
The uplifting version of this story is a Horatio Alger tale. Colleen Barrett begins her Southwest Airlines career as a secretary and lands in the presidency; Jim Ziemer starts at Harley-Davidson as a freight elevator operator and rides all the way to the corner office. In the more depressing variation, a low-status employee achieves great things but is denied promotions.

Story 3: Will I Get Fired?
The organization may need to conduct layoffs: What does the leader do? Contrast the former Walmart chief executive Michael Duke, who slashed more than 13,000 jobs while raking in $19.2 million, with Charles Schwab executives’ taking pay cuts to avoid downsizing — and giving employees who lost their jobs a bonus when they were rehired.

Story 4: How Will the Boss React to Mistakes?
In many organizations, employees are fired for errors. Some stories point to a different culture, like the famous one at IBM in the 1960s. After an employee made a mistake that cost the company $10 million, he walked into the office of Tom Watson, the C.E.O., expecting to get fired. “Fire you?” Mr. Watson asked. “I just spent $10 million educating you.”

Take a close look at these stories, and you’ll see that they deal with three fundamental issues. First is justice: Is this a fair place? Second is security: Is it safe to work here? Third is control: Can I shape my destiny and have influence in this organization?

When the big boss is human, the little guy makes it to the top, and leaders try to protect employees even when times are tough and mistakes are made, we judge the culture as just, safe and controllable.

The other three stories are “Will the Organization Help Me When I Have to Move?” “What Happens When a Boss Is Caught Breaking a Rule?” and “How Will the Organization Deal With Obstacles?” They’re all concerned with the same three issues. If people are supported when they relocate, leaders follow the same rules as everyone else, and everyone takes initiative to solve problems quickly, we don’t worry as much that the organization is unfair, that we’ll lose our jobs for blowing the whistle, or that no one will join us if we try to change the culture.

Of course, it’s true that some elements of cultures are unique, but those are the least important parts. The M.I.T. professor Edgar H. Schein observes that the most visible parts of an organization’s culture are the artifacts and practices — how people talk, look and act. There are lots of organizations where people laugh at unique jokes, speak in unusual jargon, decorate their office spaces in unconventional ways, or have funky rules and norms. But the more defining parts of a culture are its values. Values are the principles people say are important and, more crucially, the principles people show are important through their actions.

The original study of the uniqueness bias was done three decades ago. If we did it again today, we’d find new kinds of stories about whether leaders attempt to make work fun with a Ping-Pong table or try to encourage innovation by allowing employees to spend 20 percent of their time working on new ideas. Interestingly, though, the values behind these artifacts and practices still link to the core questions about fairness, safety and control. If an organization values innovation, you can assume it’s safe to speak up with new ideas, leaders will listen, and your voice matters. When fun is a priority, it signals that leaders care about people as well as profits, and you can express yourself freely.

Read more at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/20/opinion/sunday/the-one-question-you-should-ask-about-every-new-job.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad&_r=0


~~~~~~~~~


7.	Marshall Memo: Factors affecting morale

	
In this American Journal of Education article, Alan Daly (University of California/San Diego), Nienke Moolenaar (Utrecht University), Yi-Hwa Liou (National Taipei University of Education), Melissa Tuytens (Ghent University), and Miguel del Fresno (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia) analyze how negative relationships develop between central-office and school-based leaders, dragging down a district’s effort to improve teaching and learning. The authors hypothesize that three key elements affect the quality of relationships:

• Trust – “Trust can be defined as an individual’s or group’s willingness to be vulnerable to another party based on the confidence that the latter party is benevolent, reliable, competent, honest, and open,” say the authors.” Trust plays a key role in whether people at different levels of an organization interact productively with one another. Where there is a low level of trust, there is less collaboration and less chance for positive outcomes.

• Innovative climate – How people perceive the practices, procedures, and behaviors that promote new knowledge and ideas is a key factor in their willingness to take risks and share ideas that improve performance. People won’t go out on a limb with new suggestions if the climate isn’t receptive.

• Efficacy – People’s belief that they can take actions resulting in successful outcomes is a key factor in their being persistent in the face of obstacles. “As reform efforts often involve a great deal of interaction,” say the authors, “highly efficacious leaders may be better able to connect and motivate others to engage with and sustain change efforts.” Conversely, leaders who aren’t confident in their ability to produce results will drag down the productivity of their colleagues. 

The authors also looked at differences in gender, level of experience in the district, and work level (e.g., central-office or school-based). 

The study found that district office leaders were most often the nexus of negative relationships, and that trust and innovative climate were the critical factors: low trust and a climate that didn’t support innovation spawned difficult relationships and pulled down performance. Surprisingly, a high level of efficacy was often unhelpful. It appears that high self-confidence is associated with an unwillingness to listen and adapt to change and take others’ views into account, leading to difficult relationships. The findings on gender, experience, and work level were mixed. 

What are the implications? “First, schools and districts should be aware of the potential existence of difficult ties between district and school leaders,” say the authors. “Awareness of challenging relationships allows leaders to potentially interrupt or resolve these difficult interactions… One takeaway from our exploratory case study is for leaders to pay explicit attention to mismatched perceptions of trust and innovative climate across the district. Trust and innovative climate are two fundamental elements in creating a learning organization where members are open to sharing new ideas and taking risks in support of better practice. Low levels of trust and of perceptions of an innovative climate, and misperceptions between the two, can serve as bellwethers for the development of difficult ties, which can inhibit both vertical and horizontal communication.”

“[T]hose who are in positions of power in the hierarchy must take the first step in rebuilding and repairing trust,” the authors conclude. “Hence, our work indicates the importance of creating learning partnerships between and within the district office and principals to build shared beliefs and a sense of community, which in turn may reduce the formation of negative relationships.” 

“Why So Difficult? Exploring Negative Relationships Between Educational Leaders: The Role of Trust, Climate, and Efficacy” by Alan Daly, Nienke Moolenaar, Yi-Hwa Liou, Melissa Tuytens, and Miguel del Fresno in American Journal of Education, November 2015 (Vol. 122, #1, p. 1-38), available for purchase at http://bit.ly/1mkbM81


The Marshall Memo is a weekly digest of important research in K-12 education. Individual subscriptions are $50 for the school year at
http://www.marshallmemo.com.

 

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