Ilisa believes that inspired, informed, and supported Jewish day school leaders are the key to healthy schools. As the Senior Vice President, Engagement at Prizmah, Ilisa works to help sustain and advance Jewish day school leadership through coaching and through serving as the director of YOU Lead, Prizmah’s signature leadership development program. Ilisa is a former head of school, an alumna of Cohort 4 of DSLTI (Day School Leadership Training Institute), and a sought after leadership coach with over 18 years of experience in Jewish education. She is a graduate of Barnard College of Columbia University and holds a master’s in Jewish education from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Ilisa earned her certificate of nonprofit board consulting from BoardSource and consults regularly with schools on governance. She is certified in The Leadership Circle Profile™ and earned a certificate in leadership coaching from Georgetown University. Ilisa is also an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) and member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF). Ilisa is deeply committed to developing strong lay-head partnerships and creating conditions in schools where leaders can thrive.

Ingredients for Effective Feedback

In his TED talk, Rory Vaden talks about the idea of how to multiply your time. One of the most valuable takeaways for me was to ask myself the question, “What’s the most important thing I can do today that would make tomorrow better?

When I think about the one thing in which lay and professional leaders can invest in order to make tomorrow better, it is learning how to share effective feedback.  

This is surely more of an art than a science. Sometimes we avoid things that feel uncomfortable.  We think that “supporting” our head of school means being our head’s cheerleader. It is important to recognize our professional’s accomplishments and celebrate success but this is not feedback. And feedback is a two way street. Invest in getting curious.  Your head of school has to understand you care about them personally and professionally.  Start by soliciting feedback with questions like “Is there anything I could do or stop doing that would make it easier to work with me?” and then share directly with your Head in a way that will give them constructive insight into the behaviors that contribute to growth, development and success. As Kim Scott, author of a best-selling book on feedback called Radical Candor would say “Clear is kind.” 

Feedback is timely. It is clear, and it is designed for growth. We put our own discomfort aside in service of our shared purpose--in this case, to make our schools better for our children.

We have learned that one of the most important things you can do to set your professional and lay team up for success is to invest in building this relationship. Learning how to deliver clear and direct feedback is a critical skill that will ensure you are setting your head of school up for success.

Ultimately, for me, this is driven by a core value of trust. Trust that the people with whom we are communicating are committed to a shared purpose. Trust that the professionals want to hear feedback, view it as a gift and will act on what they learn. Trust that our professional leaders know their board has their back and is sharing feedback in service of their growth and development. And trust that when we are in this work of Jewish education together we can make a difference.

Check out the three articles below. And if you have more time, I suggest reading the book Radical Candor by Kim Scott. (If you don’t have time for that, check out the podcast).