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We had our final meeting of teachers and staff this morning to officially wrap up the 2010-2011 school year!  Woo-hoo!  School’s out…for summer!

But before we turn the page entirely on the year that was AND before we share some of the “Coming Attractions” for 2011-2012 (an upcoming, post-vacation blog post!), I thought I would take a final stab at transparency and share a reflection of how I thought I did this year in my first year as Head of the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School.  [I reflected last week (here) about my adventures in 21st century learning this past year, but that is only one aspect of my role as head of school.]  What follows are actual excerpts from the self-evaluation I wrote and submitted to my “Head Support & Evaluation Subcommittee” as part of my overall evaluative process.  We have asked all of our teachers to post reflections of their years on our (closed) ning as part of promoting the value of shared reflection.  I want to do my part by sharing excerpts of my reflection for y’all (did that sound authentically southern enough?  It has almost been a year!):

Jon’s Self-Evaluation “Students”:

I think in this area we took a number of important first steps this year.  We created academic standards for each grade and subject by Winter Break and were able to disseminate benchmarks as part of the Admissions Process.  We created and disseminated a variety of survey instruments, failing only to send out and score an “Alumni Survey” for this year’s freshman class.

We have also taken great strides in our outreach to special needs families and in our current practice in putting together processes for dealing with the mechanics of delivering services.  We take it as a positive sign that KoleinuJax has gifted us (in collaboration with Jewish Family & Community Services and the Jewish Community Foundation of Northeast Florida) the monies necessary to expand our program next year by allowing us to hire and train additional support staff in classes where we have children with special needs.

One additional area I would like to improve upon for next year is my own personal investment in teaching and establishing relationships with students.  I taught First Grade Tefillah once a week this year; I may expand upon that next year.  I taught MS Tefillah once a week this year; I may seek to find additional opportunities to teach in the MS as well.  I take it as a positive sign that students have been sending me letters, emails and making appointments to meet with me when they have questions and concerns, but I would like to do a better job next year of working on developing meaningful relationships with my students.  It is a time management challenge (what isn’t!), but one worth solving.

Jon’s Self-Evaluation “Faculty”:

I think I have successfully implemented an evaluative process that has not been active in some number of years.  I believe we have created an environment where teachers have reached the higher bar we have mutually set.

My takeaway from the survey data from the faculty is that I have room for growth in providing more regular positive feedback.  I do not compliment as often as I would like to and because I am not shy about providing critique, it can create an imbalance.  My experience is that in time as we all get to know each other better it becomes less and less of an issue, but that does not mean I shouldn’t try harder to provide positive reinforcement.  Next year, I want to put up a bulletin board in the faculty room where we share positive thoughts with each other and then make it a personal goal to put one up a day.  That will create good habits.

I also want to make more of an effort to spend more time developing personal relationships.  It is so hard to find the time, but if I am serious about creating a family atmosphere it will be necessary.

We did a good job of providing professional development to our Jewish Studies Faculty.  We have provided more opportunities for teachers to teach each other during our Faculty Meetings which are now hosted by a different teacher each month in her classroom and has a theme.  I would like next year to try to send a few more teachers out to receive subject matter expertise that they can bring back – for example, Judy Reppert could attend a seminar and then lead a faculty meeting and share what she learned.  I would like our MS Faculty to serve more as “department chairs” for the Lower School in their areas of expertise.

Jon’s Self-Evaluation “Parents”:

Teaching “Parent University” and establishing a blog were two big goals for this year.  It takes a lot of time to keep up the weekly blogs and to prepare and teach the class, but it is worth it and then some.  The twice-yearly face-to-face meetings with parents yielded vital information and hopefully positively contributed to retention.

I also think I’ll be able next year to expand my reach into Shabbat and holiday programming which will better foster the school-shul relationship and the kinds of meaningful carryover we are all looking for.

I think, similarly to faculty, I could do a better job with volunteer recognition and appreciation.  I need to take the extra step to ensure that people feel appreciated for the volunteering they do.  I try hard now, but I think I can grow in making sure people feel they have my full attention whenever we are speaking.  My mind races a million miles an hour, but I don’t ever want a parent to feel that I am not keenly interested in their issue at the moment we are speaking.


So…that’s that!  I hope having an opportunity to peek inside my process from time to time is useful; it is for me!

I told the teachers this morning that I am typically as excited about summer vacation as they are…but honestly?  I am so enthusiastic about what is planned for next year that I almost wish we could skip to Pre-Planning…