Friday, January 12, 2018

No disgrace in failure

I found this quote in one of my daily SmartBrief emails.
There is no disgrace in honest failure; there is disgrace in fearing to fail.
Henry Ford,
It made me think of our students, and me.  Failure doesn't need to be bad.  In fact, sometimes failure can be good.  Think of someone like Thomas Edison.  The story goes that he failed 1000 times before he invented the light bulb.  Imagine if he had stopped after the first failure, or the tenth, or the hundredth.  Would we still have a lightbulb?  Who knows?  Here is a link to some other examples of famous people who didn't give up after failure.  So I started thinking.  Do we give students enough chances to fail?  Do we model failing to our students, and let them know we failed?  I know that I need to do a better job of celebrating failures- mine and the students.  What are some ways that you celebrate your failures and the failures of our students?

Great things I saw this week...
Sandy is doing a great job taking over for Heidi.  But we all really miss Heidi.
Kids struggling in Science, and Math, and...You can't learn if you don't struggle.
The learning lounge is getting some great use.
Matt and his basketball friends at lunch.
The concern that you all have for our students, providing what they need even when they don't know they need it.
Your flexibility with schedule changes, suggestions, and the nearly 90 minutes of disruption on picture day.

Monday, January 15th
4:15  BLT meeting
7:00  Strategic planning meeting

Tuesday, January 16th
4:15  Homework Club

Wednesday, January 17th
IEP Power Day
1:15  A-team meeting
3:40  Assembly (sit with homerooms)
4:00  Culver's Night

Thursday, January 18th
Grade level/Specials meetings
12:22  AHS counselors visit 8th grade students (No 5th hour electives for 8th graders only!)
4:15  Homework Club

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
First, say to yourself what you would be, and then do what you have to do.

Why "Innovating Inside the Box" is Crucial (from George Couros)

The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
Arthur C. Clarke,
writer and inventor

Teach Like a Pirate Sketchnotes (from Dave Burgess- pretty cool way to take notes)

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.
Audre Lorde,
writer and civil rights activist
Family smore for 1.12.18

A principal friend of mine, Ryan Sheehy, is in the final stages of writing a book called Be The One.  Sound familiar?  It's the way I have ended each of these blogs this school year.  I bought one of his t-shirts, which I wore today.  Well, I'm not going to change the way I end these blogs.
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Did we even leave?

Amazing.  Proud.  Engaging.  These are just a few words I think about after this week of learning.  Amazing- You and the kids got right back to learning.  Proud- I shared the great things you are doing with my PLN.  Engaging-  I saw some new learning opportunities that I hadn't seen earlier in the school year.  Coming back from break can be a challenge, and it may have been for some of the kids and some of you, but you made the transition from time off to time back on seem like that we hadn't even left.  Thanks for creating the environment and culture that allows for the learning to start up again whenever kids are in our school.

Great things I saw...
You and the kids got right back to learning.
The joy in the kids as they saw the Learning Lounge.
Stepping up for one another when the unexpected happens.
Book discussions where kids encouraged one another to participate.
Comment in 8th grade Science- "We divided and conquered, but we're really not conquering."
Students selecting to read in the Learning Lounge when given the option.
Kids using WeVideo for TEDtalks.  I can't wait to see how they turn out!

Monday, January 8th
Strategic planning  6PM

Tuesday, January 9th
Yearbook activity pictures (boys' basketball/ volleyball/ musical/ forensics/ any others?)
Homework Club  4:15PM

Wednesday, January 10th
Math site visits (Dan is on call.  Yes, he knows.)

Thursday, January 11th
Grade level and specials meetings
Homework Club  4:15PM

Friday, January 12th
No Office Day!

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
James Baldwin,

Help Comes in Many Forms (from In Harvey's Wake- Annie B. and Merton are represented in this video.  There are also many other stories about Harvey in this link, too.  Just click on the 3 bars in the top right corner to see more.)

If you love what you do and are willing to do what it takes, it's within your reach. And it'll be worth every minute you spend alone at night, thinking and thinking about what it is you want to design or build.
Steve Wozniak,
engineer and entrepreneur
Revisiting #ClassroomLeadership (from George Couros)
Family smore for 1.5.18

Sometimes, something can really get you angry.  Sometimes more than one thing gets you angry.  When that happens, you have two choices, stay angry or be happy.  This happened to me yesterday when a couple staff members saw me angry.  They showed concern, shared a comment or two, and I left them with a smile that carried me for at least a few minutes.  A wise friend of mine, Joe Sanfelippo from Fall Creek, home of #gocrickets, says that culture is made in 30 second conversations.  I would tell you that culture isn't only fostered by me.  It's fostered by all of us.
See you all soon.
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!

Welcome back!  I'm so excited to see you and the kids tomorrow!  And there is one huge surprise!  Although I've seen the Learning Lounge, I'm waiting until the kids see it before I put anything out on social media.  There aren't any pictures of it in this post, either.  John, Jordan, Darwin, and Kirk have put in a great deal of time over Winter Break.  Mary and Jim provided their expertise as well.  It is a tremendous learning space.  If you'd like to check it out, feel free to do so.  We'll need to agree on the expectations of the space so until we are able to come to that agreement, students shouldn't be sent there alone.  The space is meant for our students, but first dibs goes to our 7th and 8th graders for the time being.  Before we make our final decisions on the expectations of this learning space, please take a moment to read this blog from Pernille Ripp called "On Flexible Seating".  Thanks again to Patrick, Becky, Megan, Katie, and Kelly for their flexibility during the month of December.  It was great to see the learning continue in those classrooms.  Thanks to Ron and the School Board for their support of the project.  It really is an awesome learning space with a lot of incredible options.

Tuesday, January 2nd
Welcome back!
4:15-5:15  Homework Club
Wednesday, January 3rd
1:15  A-team meeting
Thursday, January 4th
Grade level/ Specials meetings
4:15-5:15  Homework Club
Friday, January 5th
No Office Day!

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
Connected, my #OneWord2018 (from me)

It's in the nature of the human being to face challenges. ... We're required to do these things just as salmon swim upstream.
Neil Armstrong,

He Was an Angry Child, You Know (from Pernille Ripp)

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
Ralph Waldo Emerson,

People Shape Culture (from George Couros)
A Mindset Shift to Continue Supporting the Most Frustrating Kids (from MindShift)
20 Inspirational Quotes to Start off 2018 (from George Couros)
Why EdCamp in 2018? (from Michael Mohammad)
My #OneWord2018 (from Mark French)
The Bat-Signal Was Batman's Calling, What Is Yours? (from Dennis Griffin)

And finally, this...

See you all soon!
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Connected, my #OneWord2018

A reflection for my Merton family, students, staff, and families

As I sit in my office, visiting our school for the first time since I left on Friday, December 22nd, I reflect on the connections we have made with our students and with one another.  In some cases, we have done an exceptional job.  In other cases, we have not done enough.  I know that each of you have a large number of students to connect with.  We all do, and that shouldn't be an excuse.  It should be our challenge.  There are days when we are tired, or overwhelmed, or sick, or frustrated, or all of these at the same time.  Those are the days when focusing on a relationship with one student or colleague can provide a complete turn around.  My #principalsinaction friends, in particular Mark French, challenged one another to come up with #OneWord2018.  If you can't tell, mine is "Connected".
Now I know that many of you think that I chose connected due to social media and the incredible PLN that I have.  That is not the reason for my word choice.  The face to face connections that we have and need to develop every day is the reason for my #OneWord2018.  I have the opportunity every day at school to improve on my connections with students, staff, and families.  When I take the opportunity to connect with a student or group of students, they get to know me better and I get to know them better, too.  When I take the opportunity to connect with a colleague, I need to focus on that time to listen, to learn, and to share the great things they are doing with and for our students as well as setting goals for improvement.  When I take the opportunity to connect with families, I need to focus on finding the ways to make things the best they can be for their child or children.

Notice that each of these connections doesn't mention social media.  Connections are about relationships, and social media or emails or phone calls can start a relationship, but to truly build a relationship, one must have face to face conversations.  Now here's where you all come in.  I need those gentle, and sometimes not so gentle, reminders to unplug and disconnect from my device while we are talking.  My #OneWord2018 of connected is meant to focus on building relationships with all of you and I know that I will need your help.  Thanks in advance!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Are you able to unplug?

Adam Welcome, one of my friends from the Twitters, Voxer, and Google hangouts, as well as one of the co-authors of "Kids Deserve It", mentions in the book that he went on a family vacation for 5 days and left his phone at home.  I think I get hives just thinking about doing that, but I'm going to give it a try from Sunday through Tuesday.  If I need to take a picture, I'll use my old iPod instead of my phone.  I can post things later.  My challenge to you is to try to do the same thing- stay unplugged for two days during Winter Break.  I've chosen Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but you can choose any days you'd like.  I will promise you this- you will definitely not receive any emails from me on those two days nor will you see any tweets or Facebook posts.  That can wait until December 26th, and I'll be back to connecting and learning with you and the rest of my PLN.

Nothing until Tuesday, January 2nd!  I'll email a blog post New Year's Day in the afternoon with a calendar for the week.  No emails from me until then unless there is some sort of emergency!

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
(from MindShift)

(from George Couros)

Every now and then a man's mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.,
physician and writer

(Do all of our students and colleagues know this?-from @sylviaduckworth)

When you get into a tight place, and everything goes against you till it seems as if you couldn't hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that's just the place and time that the tide'll turn.
Harriet Beecher Stowe,
abolitionist and writer

Sticky teaching (from Ben Gilpin- There are a few other great links, too!)
7 Questions on Relationships and Lifelong Learning in Education (from George Couros)
Family smore for 12.22.17

I hope that you have enjoyed the 12 days before Winter Break and the fun we've had with our dress up days.  It sure was fun for me!  Now please make sure to relax, refresh, and reflect the next week or so.  I'll see you all later today.  Safe travels and enjoy your family and friends.
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Friday, December 15, 2017


Wednesday morning we had an assembly.  I have had a number of assemblies in my over 10 year journey as principal at Merton Intermediate School, but this one made me the most nervous.  I needed to send a message to all of our students about the importance of choosing kind.  It may not seem like a difficult message to send.  After all, who doesn't feel great when they are treated kindly?  I appreciate you all coming in at the end of the assembly to hear our challenge to be kind all the time, every day.  I really think that the videos and my personal stories had an impact on the students, but did the impact end once the students left the gym.  That's where you come in.  Please help keep the #ChooseKind focus in our students and each other.

Monday, December 18th
Lunch on Jay and Jen (And you know Jen does all of the work)
8:50-10:15  cover Colleen and Michelle
4:15-5:15  BLT meeting
7:00  Board meeting
Tuesday, December 19th
2:00  Future Ready Google hangout
4:15-5:15  Homework Club
Wednesday, December 20th
PTO brunch and gift wrapping
I'll be visiting classrooms all day!
Thursday, December 21st
Grade level and specials meetings
4:15-5:15  Homework Club
Friday, December 22nd
I'll be visiting classrooms all day!

Great things I saw this week...
The learning continues, every day, in every classroom.  (Keep the kids engaged and hold them accountable and they'll come through for all of us!)
Kids doing Google expeditions, and hearing their oohs and ahhs.
The concerts on Tuesday.
The standing ovation on Wednesday.
The kids during our Wednesday assembly.
Staff celebration of the great work you've all done.

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
3 Ideas for Taking Care of Yourself Before the Break (from George Couros)

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.

(from Pinterest- Harness your inner Michael Corleone for next week!)

Moving From Obstacle to Advantage (from George Couros)

Although I want you all to take a break from school, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share this with you.  It's a chance to do a some professional learning over Winter Break.  It's called the "Ditch That Textbook Summit" and was in an email from Dave Burgess.  If you are interested, it's easy to sign up and you can choose which of the modules you'd like to learn about.  Here is the link.  Maybe I'll see you in a couple of modules over break.

Enjoy the weekend, and #GoPackGo!
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Friday, December 8, 2017

Wonder Effects

Did you notice any changes this week after we saw the movie "Wonder"?  I have noticed a couple of things, like more students helping one another in the halls and a variety of "Wonder" related postings on doors, windows, and bulletin boards.  There is a Wednesday assembly next week and I'll be focusing our time on the theme of #ChooseKind.  If you finish your learning in time, please join us in the gym.  I've got some videos and a story or two that will hopefully have an impact on our students, and maybe on you, too.

Great things I saw this week...
Staff stepping up, again, to help one another out with unexpected situations.  This is becoming a habit, and I love it!
Staff sharing pictures via Twitter while I was at SLATE.  Thanks!
Teamwork in a variety of classes.
The true collaboration and open discussions during grade level and specials meetings.
Kim doing the announcements, with her own little challenge for the Giving Tree.  All of the tags were gone before lunch yesterday!
I just love watching the kids do Google Expeditions.
A wonderful report from the teachers about the behavior of our 7th graders on their field trip on Thursday.
Merton Theater team working concessions for the 5th grade girls basketball tournament.  And Jim and Dan did their "normal" exceptional work keeping the tournament running smoothly.

Monday, December 11th
It's a great day for me to be hanging out in classrooms!  Invite me in for some learning!
Tuesday, December 12th
4:15  Homework Club
5:30  Band concert
7:00  Choir concert
*I hope you can stop in for one of the concerts.  Jonathon, Michael, and the kids would appreciate it, and so would I!
Wednesday, December 13th
8:00-9:15  WIN (What I Need) Wednesday
1:15  A-team meeting
Thursday, December 14th
Grade level/Specials meetings
2:00  New family tour
4:15  Homework Club
Friday, December 15th
It's a great day for me to be hanging out in classrooms!  Invite me in for some learning!

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
High, Mid, and Low (from George Couros)

Instruction does much, but encouragement everything.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,
writer and statesman

(from Pinterest)

Excuse Me While I "Just" Go Innovate (from Pernille Ripp)

Catch them doing something wrong or lead them to do something amazing (from George Couros)

(from @laffinteach)

You will succeed if you persevere, and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles, a delight in climbing rugged paths, which you would perhaps never know if you did not sometime slip backward.
Helen Keller,
writer and activist

Desire is this absurdity that holds open the infinity of possibility.
Wendy Farley,

Building Resilience, Preventing Burnout (from Edutopia)

Your time is your life. Period. How you spend it ends up being what your life is.
Henry Cloud,
psychologist and leadership consultant

Family smore for 12.8.17

We have two full weeks of school left.  Keep the expectations and engagement high, for the kids and yourself, and we'll have another great week of school.  I know that there might be a time where you get frustrated with a student.  Remember they're probably just as excited, or nervous, about the upcoming holiday break.  We will all be losing our normal regiment, and that can be really difficult.  Take a deep breath, count to 5, or 500, so that you don't speak out in anger, even if you are angry.  And if you don't think that your interactions, any of them, have an impact on our kids, just watch this.

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