Friday, November 17, 2017

My bus ride

"The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry."  This quote from "To A Mouse" by Robert Burns couldn't have been more true on Wednesday.

From time to time, I'll ride a bus with the students after school.  Wednesday was one of those days.  My intent was to assist the driver with some behaviors as well as to get an idea of the climate of the bus.  Normally when the ride is over the driver brings me back to school.  Well, the driver and I got in a conversation and the next thing I knew I was at the bus terminal in a town other than where our school is.  The last minute of the ride went something like this.

Driver-  Thanks for riding along today.  It was the quietest ride of the year.
Me- No problem.  Just keep me informed if you're having an issues or you'd like me to ride again.
Driver- Do you have a ride back to school?
Me- Yes.  My wife should be here shortly to pick me up.

I got off the bus.  It's pitch black due to day light savings time so I walked closer to the driveway entrance to stand under the street light.  And then I texted my wife and daughter of my predicament.  I didn't have the heart to tell the driver that I was expecting him to take me back to school after the last stop.  You see, I didn't have a ride back to school.  My wife came to pick me up and we had a good chuckle all the way home.

I learned two lessons on that ride.
#1.  Be more specific when riding a bus that you will need a ride back to school after the last stop.
#2.  Spending a few extra minutes with our bus drivers develops a relationship that allows the drivers to know you really care about the kids and about them.

Next time, I may just drop off my car at the bus terminal, ride a bus to school, and then ride a different bus home.  That way I can build a relationship with another driver.  And I won't have to have my wife come pick me up.

It's Thanksgiving week!

I don't have much to share this week except I am so proud and grateful to work with each and every one of you every single day.  We will have a fantastic Friday today and a terrific two day week next week.  I know that you will have meaningful experiences for our students leading up to Thanksgiving because that's what you do every day.  The more we make the next three days like any days of the school year, the more our kids will learn and perform for you like they always have done.  Let's make this the best three days of the school year so far.

Great things I saw this week...
Even in tough times, the staff was able to get together, talk about kids, and laugh about the crazy things that happen to us every day.
Therapeutic toys in 6th grade.
Math stations with mini-lessons.
Kids writing and reading every day, with choice and voice.
Having a chance to cover a math class and reconnecting with kids.
Great discussions in team meetings.
Do you even know how lucky I am to get the opportunity to visit your classrooms and do observations?
Conferences the last two weeks.  I had great discussions about you all with families every night.

Monday, November 20
Move it Monday- wear some workout gear
BLT meeting 4:15-5:15
Tuesday, November 21
No Office Day, as much as possible.
Wednesday, November 22-26
Enjoy Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
Problems are guidelines, not stop signs.
Robert Schuller,
clergyman and speaker

Maybe Next Year (from Pernille Ripp)

I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be who I want.
Muhammad Ali,
11 Ways to Build Capacity and Never Stop Growing (from David Geurin)

"You have to accept whatever comes, and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give." 

— Eleanor Roosevelt

Only Schools Can End Schools (from George Couros)

The risk is the challenge.
Mario Andretti,
auto racer
Today I cried... (from Kelley Begley McCall)

Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.
Grandma Moses,
folk artist

3 Myths about "Empowering" Students in Schools Today (from George Couros)

Family smore for 11.17.17

Once you school is over today, do me a favor.  Reach out to a family member of friend you haven't been in touch with in a while.  Give them a call or invite them to coffee or lunch.  Focus on the relationship you had, or have, with them.  Catch up, listen, and smile.  And then I challenge you to do the same with one of our students next week.  Find the one, or two, or ten, that you think might be having the most difficult time leading up to our long Thanksgiving break.  Connecting with them might just make next week the best two day school week they could ever have.  You may know that a few of your colleagues are reading Kids Deserve It along with me.  This week we did flipgrid videos.  Full disclosure- your colleagues did their videos but I haven't done mine yet.  The power of the messages in this book reminds me of each of you.  If you haven't read the book and you'd like to, let me know if you'd like a copy of the book.  I know a guy.  And if you like the message of the book, maybe you would like to show off the message by wearing a shirt or sweatshirt.  Here's a link to some options, if you're interested.
See you all soon!
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Friday, November 10, 2017


On Wednesday night, at the end of 5th grade conferences, I was involved in #ohedchat, a chat of educators from the state of Ohio.  The question, and my response, was one I think about often at family conference time.  Please take a moment to reflect on my response.

A6 Face to face is more powerful than a phone call is more powerful than an email or text. Make time to talk to someone face to face.

I must say, the power of a face to face conversation does something no other means of communication can do.  When I'm asked, "Are family conferences important anymore?"  My unequivocal answer is YES!  Thanks to all of you for your time with our families to set goals with our students, celebrate our students, and build relationships with our families.

If you're on cycle, don't forget to schedule your observation!
Monday, November 13
Strategic planning 6PM

Tuesday, November 14
Power Day
Homework Club 4:15

Wednesday, November 15
Culver's Night 4-8PM

Thursday, November 16
Grade level/Specials meetings
Homework Club 4:15
6th, 7th, and 8th grade conferences 4:30

Friday, November 17
No Office Day!

Great things I saw this week...
Staff being patient with students struggling both academically and behaviorally
Staff stepping up to help out
Students and Michael preparing for Veterans' Day
Your efforts at family conferences
Staff supporting one another
Keeping the kids first

Quotes, tweets, and blogs
(from Pinterest)

You build on failure. You use it as a steppingstone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.
Johnny Cash,
singer and songwriter

I look forward to our Veterans' Day celebration this morning.  I look forward to making phone calls home today so please give me the name of one student from each grade level.  I'd love a staff member's name, too.  Keep the kids front and center with all that we do today.  Find that one student or staff member that needs you to Be The One and then Be. The. One.
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Friday, November 3, 2017


This has been one of my favorite weeks of the school year.  Why?  I've had to face a number of challenges, both with students and adults, and it made me really sit back and reflect, more than I normally do.  As we approach the holiday season- it is November, by the way- behaviors of all in our schools begins to change or heighten.  Often we only see what's on the surface but, like an iceberg, there are underlying issues and situations that are the real reason for the behaviors.  Remember precipitating factors from our CPI training?  That's what I'm writing about.  See the graphic below about some of these factors.
There are many more than just those that are listed here.  And as I said in our training, don't become a precipitating factor yourself.  In one of my Voxer groups this week, a conversation occurred about how relationships can have an impact, both negative and positive, on the behavior of students and adults.  I challenge you to build one relationship in November using the 2X10 strategy (If you don't know what this is, just ask me!) or by having me take over your class to foster a relationship with "that kid".  Who is up for the challenge?  Extra credit- Blog about the difference this relationship has made for the student, you, or your class.

Great things I saw this week...
BizTown for our 5th graders (animoto is here)
Coaches and staff working together for our kids
6th grade trip to the Cave of the Mounds
Flexibility of staff to help out one another
Laughter in classrooms
Cleaner hallways
Jennifer's efforts for this year's book fair
Kids reading
Kids supporting one another in math
Family meeting about High School Musical Jr.

Monday, November 6th
4 way stop from 8:15-8:45 (Anyone able to help?  You'll get to leave at 3:45 some day in the future!)
8:00AM  #KidsDeserveIt Twitter chat in the library (All are welcome!)
9-11  PTO grants
6:00PM  Strategic planning

Tuesday, November 7th
4:15-5:15  Homework Club

Wednesday, November 8th
8:00  Staff meeting (Sarah and Corinne are leading us)
1:15  A-team meeting
4:30  5th grade conferences

Thursday, November 9th
Jeans for Troops ($5 donation for wearing jeans)
Grade level/ Specials meetings
4:15  Homework Club
4:30  5th/6th grade conferences

Friday, November 10th
9:00  Veterans' Day breakfast
10:00  Veterans' Day assembly
11:00-11:45  Veterans visit classrooms

Tweets, blogs, and quotes
Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.
William Jennings Bryan,
political leader and orator

(from Pinterest)

We Got This (from Pernille Ripp)

Orly Wahba: Kindness and consequence

Letter to a Tired Teacher (from Danny Steele)

(from Pinterest)

Family smore for 11.3.17

Conferences are next week.  It's an opportunity to...
discuss the successes of students.
build relationships with families.
set goals and plans for student struggles.
discuss specific skills you are focusing on.
develop partnerships with families.
share what you are doing with and for students.
share examples of student work.
share student developed goals.
open the door for future communications.

Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Short week, and a challenge

Sometimes with short weeks there can also be a shortage of learning.  That was not the case this week.  Fortunately my schedule permitted me to visit classes all day on Monday and Tuesday and I got to see you all in action.  My goal was to complete the first round of mini-observations for everyone and I came up just short.  I did get to visit almost every class (sorry about not getting into 5th and 6th grade PE as they were at the Primary School this week) and I saw students learning to weave, learning about the Revolutionary War, learning about linear equations, learning about Peru, reading, learning about sketch cubes, picking up a student at his house, using evidence to support thoughts, building hot air balloons, and having conversations with some students about behavior.  And that was all before lunch on Monday.  This is just a snapshot of the great things I have the opportunity to witness every day.  When will you find a way to visit a colleague's classroom to see what they do?  I know a guy who would be happy to cover your class so that you can.

Reminder!  Your SLO/PPG is due today before you leave.  I'm in school and available most of the day if you have any questions (9:00 webinar on the new licensing procedure and 10:00 meeting with a teacher is all that's on my calendar right now.).  You can find the SLO/PPG forms in Google Classroom.

Great things I saw this week...
Balloon building in 5th grade
6th grade students helping each other out with sketch cubes
Staff stepping in to help one another for a variety of reasons (flu and root canals come to mind)
Staff wearing bow ties on Tuesday and the great announcement by the kids
School board voting to move ahead with our 7/8 learning lounge

Monday, October 30th
7:30-8:45  CESA #1
Tuesday, October 31st
3:00-4:00  cover Megan- IEP
4:15-5:15  Homework Club
Wednesday, November 1st
8:30-11:30  Math meeting
9:00-9:45  cover Patrick
12:22-1:03  Social Studies planning
12:30-3:30  TILT meeting
6:30  Principals' Chat with Mike
Thursday, November 2nd
8:55-9:40  6th grade meeting
9:45-10:30  5th grade meeting
12:22-1:03  7th/8th grade meeting
1:30-2:00  Specials meeting
4:15-5:15  Homework Club

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
10 Ways to Get Your Mojo Back (from ASCD Education Update)

The Stress of Learning (from George Couros)

I am not worried about the future at all. I don't like to run it down. I don't like to think of it being too dark, because I expect to spend all the rest of my life there.
Charles Kettering,
inventor and business leader
Family smore for 10.25.17

There are often times as an educator that things don't go exactly as planned.  This week was one of those days.  You know what I mean.  I was able to be a lot of different people this week and it gave me a heightened sense of all that you do every day for our students and each other.  I left school tired, either physically or mentally, every day this week, but it was a good tired.  It's tiring when you are doing great things for our kids.  But remember, we shouldn't be doing all the work.  Our kids should be tired, too, because they have put forth a great effort.  Check over your plans from this week to see if you provided opportunities for our kids to be as tired as you were.  If not, think about how you can change that for the kids.  They will appreciate it, and so will you.
Have a refreshing long weekend.
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Can you change?

I subscribe to three blogs which I mention in no particular order.  One is Pernille Ripp's, another is Dave Burgess', and the final, is George Couros'.  You have probably noticed that as I share at least one of them each week with you.  Last week Friday, George posted this blog- Change the World or Simply Maintain It?  Please take a few minutes to read it.  If you don't read the entire blog, please read the last paragraph.  It's the change we need to make in our classrooms and our school.  Are you ready to go there with me?  After conferences last night as well as some of our discussions during team meetings yesterday, I think we are.  No, I know we are.  The question is, can you find just one thing to do a little differently to make a difference for our kids?  I know you can.

Great things I saw this week...
Our BLT. like all of you, is looking out for all of our kids and all of our staff.
Our kids helping each other out in the STEM lab while learning Inventor.
Mark Flynn speaking to 5th graders about his knowledge of South Sudan.  Best thing- Mark asked the students what they thought about when he said Sudan.  The first answer was Sweden.  It caught Mark off guard, to say the least.
How much our staff takes care of each other.
How much our staff cares about our kids and their families as evidenced in conferences Thursday night and grade level meetings on Thursday.
An 8th grade student helping a 7th grade student, who was using crutches, carry his lunch tray to his table.

Red Ribbon Week
Monday, October 23rd
Wear Red!
School board meeting  7PM
Tuesday, October 24th
Wear team gear!
Homework Club  4:15PM
Wednesday, October 25th
A-team meeting  1:30PM
Thursday, October 26th
Professional Development Day
Friday, October 27th
No school- You better hang out with your family and friends!

Tweets, quotes, and blogs

(from Pinterest)

(from Joni Stevenson, a principal friend of mine from Idaho)

Curiosity Leads to Growth (from George Couros)
Who Do You Need to Thank (from Dave Burgess)
Family smore for 10.20.17

You gotta love your family...
I'm sitting in one of the last conferences last night and my watch started to vibrate to let me know of an incoming phone call.  It was my parents, but I didn't answer my phone.  I just finished up the conference.  Once the conference was over, I called my parents and their first question was if I was watching one of our family friends playing the organ in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.  It's kind of a big deal and they wanted me to be able to hear him.  I told them that I couldn't due to conferences and then our discussion went to their trip to Connecticut, the state where I was born and where almost all of my parents relatives live.  I asked how they were getting to the airport and they said they were driving and parking there.  As my mom said, "It was cheaper than taking a Huber."  We then had a discussion about the difference between an Uber and Huber.  It was just the laugh I needed after an exhausting and exhilarating day.

I hope that today you find one thing that makes you smile and can share that smile with the students or one of our Merton family.
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Friday, October 13, 2017

All kids

Take a close look at this slide I found on Twitter while following the AWSA Elementary Principals Conference going on this week in Green Bay.  It's circled in yellow and I dare to say that we all believe the statistics.  The question is, "What are we doing every day to bring that potential to life?"  Each one of you has a different answer and no answer is wrong.  There are also easy answers as well as hard answers.  Please think of answers in both categories.  Share these answers with our BLT representatives.  It will be an agenda item for our BLT meeting on Monday.  I see the potential in each of you and I know you see the potential in each of our kids.  So, what else are we willing to do to bring that potential to life?

Great things I saw, and heard, this week...
Positive comments and conversation during an IEP meeting that made all on the team smile.
Laughter coming from the 6th grade lounge while I was covering a study hall.
5th grade band learning to play together, and sounding pretty good, too.
A group of educators came together to figure out the best ways to meet the needs of kids (Actually happens more than I can even keep track of every day.).
Watching 5th graders using the Google Expedition goggles in Science.
The jazz band sounded awesome on Thursday morning!
The color run was just plain awesome, and the slime was much easier to clean up from this year.
The 6th grade band practicing outside after the color run was really cool.
I enjoy our grade level meetings more than you will ever know.  There are too many reasons to even explain.  And the reviews are mixed on me bringing fruit instead of donuts.

Monday, October 16th
BLT  4:15
Tuesday, October 17th
Homework Club  4:15
Wednesday, October 18th
MAPs staff meeting (LA, Math, and Special Education teachers only)  8:00 in the Little Theater
Culver's Night 4:00-8:00
Thursday, October 19th
Grade level meetings (Specials meeting at 1:30 in the art room)
Homework Club  4:15
7th and 8th grade invitation conferences  4:30
Friday, October 20th
5th grade interviews  1:00

Tweets, blogs, and quotes
"I Got To" versus "I Get To" (from George Couros)
Less Work, Deeper Learning (from George Couros)
Our Perfectly Average Child (from Pernille Ripp)

(from Pinterest)

(from Pinterest)

(from Pinterest)

(from Pinterest)

(from Pinterest)

(from Pinterest)

(from ASCD K-12 Leadership Brief)

Thanks for all that you do every day for our kids that no one will ever know about.
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell