Thursday, January 15, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

It's been a busy couple of weeks since I posted last. Here are some of the highlights:
  • There was a brief flurry of responses to getting our (Mitzvah Heroes Fund, Inc.) IRS approval as a 501(c)(3)...... I still need to get donation acknowledgements mailed out!
  • I did a workshop for a colleague on "Strategies for Teaching Students Who Learn Differently." It was great to be there with them, but our time was abridged and I didn't do such a great job of abbreviating my agenda, "while standing on one foot." I need to do some pre-emptive thinking for future workshops: What will I leave out if our time runs short?
  • I'm preparing a teaching session for a local day school on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to teach about individuals who found themselves in the unanticipated position of protesting behavior, and whose actions caused significant change. Jewish values: b'tzelem elohim (all are created in the image of God) and ometz lev (courage of the heart). Add those thoughts to Margaret Mead's Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has and perhaps you'll see where I'm going!
  • I'm working on a workshop for this coming Sunday for a colleague on "Working with Parents." As I blogged earlier, Joel Lurie Grishaver's Working with Parents: A Teacher's Guide (Torah Aura, 1997) has been an invaluable resource for this type of workshop over the years. Carol Oseran Starin's Let Me Count the Ways, Vol 2 (again, Torah Aura, 2006) has some wonderful suggestions on how to deal with those particularly difficult parents we seem to encounter occasionally.
  • I'm also working on a regional program for fifth graders on tzedakah, called "Lev B'Lev /Heart to Heart".... doing the research to come up with the lessons so the teachers can set the stage with their students before our March program.
  • I'm planning a workshop with another colleague later this month on working with madrichim/teen aides....
  • With the resumption of classes after winter break, I've resumed my role as on-site midweek administrator for a local school ... and found myself testing Hebrew decoding yesterday! (Those of you who know me know that Hebrew language is NOT necessarily my strongest skill!!) But I was able to do the testing.... and more importantly, identify the areas of weakness.... and even still more importantly, propose a course of study/review for the students that need it. WOW - who would've thought?
  • I've begun to prep for a Family Tu B'shevat program in early February - we'll focus on bal tashchit (do not destroy) and shomrei adamah (guardianship of the earth).... I'm reading lots of blogs, doing lots of online research and beginning to map out a program that will be sufficiently substantive and engaging for kids and adults.
  • And I'm continuing to pull research and ideas together for a school I'm working with that has some children who present rather unique challenges... this one is going a little more slowly than anticipated.

And, in the meantime.... my mother's health is deteriorating rapidly and we're beginning to face some end-of-life issues and feelings.... a friend's daughter's been in and out of the hospital for medical stuff they're having trouble identifying... and my daughter had a week to leave a month early on her BirthRight trip to Israel! Instead of leaving in early February, she left yesterday.... you should have seen the scurrying in this house the last seven days. "Shabbat in Jerusalem twice, Mom" was her mantra.

So, like everyone else, things have been busy.

But this weekend, I'm taking a break and spending Shabbat on retreat with friends from a congregation where I worked for several years. The weather forecast is for frigid weather, but I've been assured I don't have to leave the lodge at all.... so I'm game! Good friends, good conversation, some quality davening /prayer, set in a place where I'll have no cell phone reception -- what could be better??

Shabbat shalom.

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