Friday, January 7, 2011

Soles

If you have been following this blog for a while you know that one of my favorite teachers is Seth Godin. I have never learned from him face to face. I began reading him in Fast Company Magazine. Then I read the Idea Virus and The Purple Cow. A few webinars, YouTube and some TED talks. And most recently Linchpin - which has helped me to crystallize a lot of my thoughts about synagogue education. And I follow his blog.This is what he posted today:

All you've got, all your brand has got, all any of us have are the memories and expectations and changes we've left with others.
It's so easy to get hung up on the itinerary, the features and the specs, but that's not real, it's actually pretty fuzzy stuff. The concrete impact of our lives and our work is the mark you make on other people. It might be a product you make or the way you look someone in the eye. It might be a powerful experience you have on a trip with your dad, or the way you keep a promise.
The experiences you create are the moments that define you. We'll miss you when you're gone, because we will always remember the mark you made on us.
There's a sign on most squash courts encouraging players to wear only sneakers with non-marking soles. I'm not sure there's such a thing. If you've going to do anything worthy, you're going to leave a mark.
Tonight the chairs of my religious school committee - Gayle Szuchman and Cindy Becker - gave a report to the board of our synagogue about the work of the committee. They were asked to do so because the committee has become a shining example of a group of people coming together around a shared vision and working to make it real. That vision is all about relationships. 

We changed some of the focus of the committee from the classroom to the parents. We decided that the most important factor in determining whether a child grows up to be a Jewishly functionally literate adult connected to the community are his or her parents. And our focus is not initially on improving parents Jewish knowledge or even expanding the range of their Jewish practice. It has been on developing and deepening relationships between adults.

Our room parents no longer focus on who is bringing snack or shopping for the model Seder we no longer hold. Instead they have been charged with bringing the parents in their children's classrooms together. Teams of parents in the middle grades come together to create and implement relationship-building games among their children during school hours - getting the teams together is as important as the socialization among the kids. And the committee spent part of the summer identifying and reaching out to parents who were asked to step up and take a role in the life of our school.

They have spent this year creating experiences that have brought people together. Those folks have begun to develop relationships. They have become Facebook friends. And their kids are getting together too! I think Seth is right, worthwhile things we do leave a mark. And that is what this group is doing. And that mark is making people more connected to the synagogue, and valuing their membership in new ways.

How will you leave a mark? Please offer your suggestions or experiences. I am hoping we can all learn from one another!

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