My last few days I spent between very good friends in Netanya and very good friends in Tel Aviv. It is quite amazing how your experience in a city changes depending on if you know people. It was a welcome relief to be staying with friends I've had for years and swapping stories of travels, work, and more. I had a chance to "talk shop" as it were with a few formal and informal educator friends of mine in Israel and we were fascinated by major differences in educational systems. To satiate your curiosity, I focus mainly on the fact that in Israeli high schools the teachers move around classrooms instead of the students. Moreover, there are designated homeroom teachers who spend up to 300 minutes a week with their classroom of students. They stand a much better chance of creating classroom culture that way.
In Tel Aviv I got a chance to take part in the most amazing rally of my entire life. As I mentioned briefly I spent time attending and supporting this enormous rally last Saturday night. Over 280,000 individuals came out to support the idea of more social welfare in the country. People from all walks of life, young and old, hippie and conservative, left and right, came together to rally for a major change in the policies of their country. An equivalent rally in the US would require something like 6 million people to attend. It was amazing. It made me really wish that we taught our youth better about how to connect with civic responsibility. Unfortunately, it's hard to test that...
My last splurge of this trip was using my frequent flier miles (as I mentioned above) to take a first-class seat on my flight home. If you ever get a chance to try out US Airways' "Envoy Suite," I highly recommend it. I arrived in Philly well-rested and rejuvenated. I was able to even stay up until 9:45pm last night!
As for things I want to focus on this year:
1) Really making math relevant to my students while also showing them how cool it can be to describe the world
2) Cooking more food in my apartment and having people over for dinner more often
3) Expanding my Personal Learning Network and sharing ideas across the globe
4) Not wasting anymore time