Friday, May 18, 2018

How was your aim?

The goal is not always meant to be reached, but to serve as a mark for our aim.
Joseph Joubert,

The quote above really caught my attention.  As the minutes in the day go by, and the days of the week go by, I've noticed that although my aim is high (you can pick the topic), I might not always get there.  I've had visions of having a school where students and staff respect one another all the time.  For the most part, it's true here in Merton.  But there are days, or times of the day, where than might not always be the case.  The goal is mutual respect, and that's also the aim.  Aim is a personal thing that needs to be adjusted a variety of times during the day.  Jen shared this video (it's at the end of the article, which is also good) with me about teenagers.  I think one reason was so that I understood Lauren better.  The other was to give me a better perspective on teenagers.  After all, teenagers aren't just mini-adults.  They are teenagers.  As you can continue to read this week's nuts and bolts, you'll notice a lot of quotes.  Maybe you'll relate to the quote above, or maybe not, but hopefully one of the quotes will resonate with you.

Monday, May 21st
8:00AM  BLT meeting

Tuesday, May 22nd
5th grade at camp
8:50  cover Brian F.
4:15  Homework Club

Wednesday, May 23rd
5th grade at camp
8:30  Parents' United?

Thursday, May 24th
5th grade at camp
Half day career day
Specials meeting
2:00  A-team meeting
4:00  Opioid Awareness at Swallow
4:15  Final Homework Club

Friday, May 25th
Jeans for Troops Day ($5 to wear jeans.  Money collected goes to military veterans)
3:00  5th grade HG&D

Future Dates
Monday, May 28th- Memorial Day (No School)
Friday, June 1st- Celebration Day
Tuesday, June 5th- 8th grade Day Away and dance
Wednesday, June 6th- Awards assembly and 8th grade graduation
Thursday, June 7th- Last day of school (half day)

Great things I saw this week...
See this below from one of our new families on Facebook.
"New to this school coming from St Joe’s and Brighton in Kenosha county. Two other great schools. Merton Schools and staff are outstanding. Clean school, well kept, friendly, class and sports options. Real food and healthy options for lunches. The list goes on! Singing that was actually really great and enjoyable. (Not just parent requirements lol). Looking forward to my sons program tonight."
Sphero and ozobots in Science
Students creating multimodal books in LA
Custodians going above the call of duty for concert setups and tear down, even though they were shorthanded.
The concerts on Tuesday night were amazing!
I continue to visit classrooms and you continue to keep the kids engaged.  Keep it up!

Tweets, quotes, and blogs Thriving Through Adversity (from George Couros)

(from @SylviaDuckworth)

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver,

Only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky,
writer and philosopher

(Thanks to Jen for sending this my way.  I also think "month" could be substituted for "week".)

"How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these." — George Washington Carver

Deliberate with caution, but act with decision; and yield with graciousness, or oppose with firmness.
Charles Caleb Colton,
cleric and writer

What, after all, has maintained the human race on this old globe despite all the calamities of nature and all the tragic failings of mankind, if not faith in new possibilities, and courage to advocate them.
Jane Addams,
social activist

Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.
George Orwell,
writer and journalist

There are many things that seem impossible only so long as one does not attempt them.
Andre Gide,

A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.
Helen Keller,
writer and social activist

Family smore for 5.18.18

I hope you remembered to wear jeans and a sweatshirt today.
See you all soon.
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Friday, May 11, 2018

Reflecting on our year

Believe it or not, I'm a pretty reflective person.  It happens a lot while I'm running, or walking the halls, or driving around.  Every day I think back on many different things to see what I can celebrate and what I need to do better tomorrow.  This week has been overly filled with reflective moments, some of celebration and some of wanting to do something completely different the next time.  Why is it that I tend to focus on the things I should do better?  Why can't I just celebrate the good once in a while?  Maybe you feel the same way.  If you do feel like I do, let's find something to celebrate together next week.

Great things I saw this week...
Everybody wearing their baseball shirts on Monday.
Monday's softball game with the smiles from kids and staff.
Staff "taking one for the team" to be with our kids while the rest of us played or coached.
Wiffle ball games during PE and at recess.
Spheros, Vex robots, and all things creation in Science classes.
Kids reading and gaining background information for documentaries.
A text message to share a huge gain in MAPs so that I could let the student know how proud I am of him.
Getting closer to the end of MAP and F&P testing for the year.
The individual and small group attention you give our kids every day.
More volunteers than I can remember for starfish and frog dissections.
The pride Jen has in our book fair.
Michael and the kids getting ready for Grandparents' Day.
#1 all time- Dan suggesting a collection for an 8th grader, and the staff filling an envelope to make sure his graduation is something that he will remember.  Thanks, Dan!

Monday, May 14th
End of year EE meetings start

Tuesday, May 15th
4:15  Homework Club
5:30  Spring Concerts

Thursday, May 17th
Grade level and specials meetings
4:15  Homework Club

Friday, May 18th
1:30  Family tour

Future Dates
Monday, May 21st- BLT meeting (8AM)
Tuesday, May 22nd-Thursday, May 24th- 5th grade at camp
Thursday May 24th- Career Day (8:30-11:30)
Monday, May 28th- Memorial Day (No School)
Friday, June 1st- Celebration Day
Tuesday, June 5th- 8th grade Day Away and dance
Wednesday, June 6th- Awards assembly and 8th grade graduation
Thursday, June 7th- Last day of school (half day)

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
Saying "Yes" to Yourself (from George Couros)

The great man does not think beforehand of his words that they may be sincere, nor of his actions that they may be resolute -- he simply speaks and does what is right.

Keep Your Head Up and Keep Creating (from George Couros)

(from Pinterest)

Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.
John Steinbeck,

Surviving the Home Stretch (from Dan Tricarico via Dave Burgess)

The secret of living a life of excellence is merely a matter of thinking thoughts of excellence.
Charles Swindoll,

"I think you have one time around.  And I don't know what's going to be in existence in six months or a year.  So, I think that you're here on earth to make some kind of contribution...But, I'm impatient.  I suppose, I would hope everybody would be impatient."
Robert Kennedy, 1925-1968, American politician
You have to be absolutely frank with yourself. Face your handicaps; don't try to hide them. Instead, develop something else.
Audrey Hepburn,

And What Do We End With? (from Pernille Ripp)

Family smore for 5.11.18

Yesterday, one of our colleagues asked me how I do all that I do every day as a principal.  What I do pales in comparison to what each of you do.  You are a teacher, and if you were to write a list of all of the duties you actually do every day, what would you put on the list?  I won't even start as my list would not be inclusive enough or as accurate as the list you would make.  What I do know is that your love of kids would be at the top.  I witness it every day and am so impressed by what you do for and with our kids.  The kids and families might not tell you enough how thankful they are for all that you do, but know that they are.  And know that I am thankful, too.  You live the words that ends every weekly nuts and bolts- Be the one.
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Friday, May 4, 2018

Staff Appreciation Week

Staff appreciation week is a big deal to me.  You should all be recognized and appreciated every day.  Although I think you all should be recognized for your work with our kids more often, sometimes what we hear more is what we don't want to hear.  Our PTO recognizes all that you do and they are amazed by it every day.  They speak to Mike and I at PTO meetings, but it's also those conversations in the office, outside, or in the community that let us know just how much they appreciate you.  The PTO is a microcosm of our school community.  They are the vocal ones who aren't afraid to speak up and tell others about the great things you do for our kids and our school.  When you see our families on Monday afternoon, please thank them for recognizing you.  I know that what the PTO has planned is a disruption to an already busy May, but the disruption is for a really good cause- YOU!

Great things I saw this week...
Student led book discussions in LA.  There were some great comments.
The roller skating unit sure looks like fun.  With me it would just be funny.
PTO's leadership with Staff Appreciation Week.
Kids playing baseball and kickball at recess.
Staff conversing about all sorts of things.
The kids doing their best to stay focused with the change in weather (Thank goodness!) and the time of year.
Classes going outside for learning.
We had a really good fire drill (Under 1:30 for a 2 story school is really good).
Our cafeteria staff smiling even when they run out of certain food items for the kids (Please be diligent about the lunch counts. They have an impact on our 5th and 6th grade lunch.).
Kids working in pairs to study for an upcoming test.  Their conversations were really good.
I really enjoyed our grade level and specials meetings on Thursday.  Your care and concern for our kids, and each other, is amazing!
"Emergency" BLT meeting after school to discuss best way to handle next week's goofy schedule.

Monday, May 7th
It's Shorts Day!
8:55  Round 2 PE interviews all morning
2:30  Staff appreciation activity (7th/8th grade tentative adjusted schedule with 5th hour)

Tuesday, May 8th
4:15  Homework Club

Wednesday, May 9th
8:15  Staff meeting (Staff recognition awards)
8:40-8:55  WIN assembly (No adjusted schedule)
1:15  A-team meeting

Thursday, May 10th
Grade level and specials meetings
4:15  Homework Club

Friday, May 11th
Grandparents'/ Special Persons' Day in the AM

Future Dates
Monday, May 14th-Thurday, May 17th- Scholastic Book Fair
Tuesday, May 15th- Spring Concerts (Band at 5:30/ Choir at 7:00)
Tuesday, May 22nd-Thursday, May 24th- 5th grade at camp
Thursday May 24th- Career Day (8:30-11:30)
Monday, May 28th- Memorial Day (No School)
Friday, June 1st- Celebration Day
Tuesday, June 5th- 8th grade Day Away and dance
Wednesday, June 6th- Awards assembly and 8th grade graduation
Thursday, June 7th- Last day of school (half day)

Tweets, quotes, and blogs

There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.
William James,
philosopher and psychologist

Start Again Tomorrow (from George Couros)

Creative activity could be described as a type of learning process where teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.
Arthur Koestler,
writer and journalist

When No One Else Is Watching (from Todd Schmidt)

I wish that we worried more about asking the right questions instead of being so hung up on finding answers.
Madeleine L'Engle,

Your Local Expertise (from George Couros)

"Leverage Worry and Fear" (from George Couros)

Be not afraid of greatness: Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.
William Shakespeare,
poet, playwright and actor

Family smore for 5.4.18

If you've gotten this far, thanks for reading all the way through.  I apologize for being MIA on Wednesday and much of Thursday.  PE interviews were my focus on Wednesday and Thursday is meeting day.  I have nothing on my calendar for tomorrow morning so I will be in your classrooms all morning.  I might stay for 5 minutes or I might stay for 15.  If you've got something going on that you'd like me to be a part of, let me know and I'll be there.
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Friday, April 27, 2018

Can it already be May?

As we approach the end of April and turn the calendar to May, I want you to all really think about making the last days of school count instead of counting down the remaining days.  Students might have a countdown, but if we put a countdown on our whiteboard in our room, what are we saying to the kids?  Please continue to focus on engaging the students every day.  If you change your routine or expectations or rigor, that's when we'll start having more behavior problems.  Keep the focus on the impact you can have on the kids and that will help to keep the kids, and us, on track for a great end of the school year.

Great things I saw this week...
Robots in 5th grade
Roller skating in PE
Students teaching their classmates Algebra
Students sharing research with their classmates in Social Studies
Gaga ball pit in full action
Pallet to Project is underway
Students really focused on their math tests
I think it's Spring!  Recess was awesome.
Patrick is back, and he has a warning about snowblowers
More NJHS members helping out at Homework Club than students needing help!
Spikeball during PE
Continued collaboration to do what is best for our kids.

Monday, April 30th
4:30  volleyball games @ Stone Bank

Tuesday, May 1st
Staff Appreciation Week starts (It's a different week than I told you all yesterday!)
2:30  Future Ready meeting in Brookfield
4:15  Homework Club

Wednesday, May 2nd
7:15  volleyball practice
9:00  PE interviews (all day)
Staff Appreciation Tailgate lunch

Thursday, May 3rd
grade level and specials meetings
4:15  Homework Club

Friday, May 4th
Star Wars Day (May the fourth be with you!)
11:45-1:00  Jennifer Neuman visit (our new School Board member)

Future Dates
Wednesday, May 2nd- NJHS field trip
Wednesday, May 2nd- PTO staff tailgate lunch
Monday, May 7th- PTO staff activity (2:30-3:30/ more to come!)
Friday, May 11th- Grandparents' Day
Monday, May 14th-Friday, May 18th- Scholastic Book Fair
Tuesday, May 22nd-Thursday, May 24th- 5th grade at camp
Thursday May 24th- Career Day (8:30-11:30)
Monday, May 28th- Memorial Day (No School)
Friday, June 1st- Celebration Day
Tuesday, June 5th- 8th grade Day Away and dance
Wednesday, June 6th- Awards assembly and 8th grade graduation
Thursday, June 7th- Last day of school (half day)

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
"The only thing people regret is that they didn't live boldly enough, that they didn't invest enough heart, didn't love enough.  Nothing else really counts at all."- Ted Hughes

What Matters to You?  An Exploration into #BeingTheChange (from Pernille Ripp)

There are two types of people: One strives to control his environment, the other strives not to let his environment control him.
George Carlin,

They Myth of the "Laggard" (from George Couros)

Genius is often only the power of making continuous efforts.
Elbert Hubbard,

I Was Here On Time (from Jon Harper)

"Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."-
Ferris Bueller, American student, from the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

"Make the most of the best and the least of the worst."- Robert Louis Stevenson

It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.
Ursula K. Le Guin,

If you are interested...
Back To School Grant from Meemic

As the title of this week's blog states, "Can it already be May?"  It's great that it's almost May, but good grief, it's almost May!  I have no idea how many days of the school year are left (and please don't tell me) but I know that there is so much more that I need to do for you and the kids and there is so much more for you to do for each other and the kids.  To quote High School Musical Jr., which was awesome, by the way- "We're all in this together!"
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Friday, April 20, 2018

You are amazing

As I reflect on the last two weeks, I must admit that you amaze me.  Despite changes for next year, you still come to school, every day, and give it your best effort.  The kids probably don't even know all of the things you are dealing with, personally and professionally, because you still are here every day for them, and for each other.  I appreciate all of you who have come to me with concerns or questions instead of feeding the rumors and assumptions.  One of our colleagues reminds me, often, what it really means when we assume things.  Please come to me with any concerns or questions that you have as we move forward with this school year and prepare for the next school year.  Thank you for your passion, your effort, and your desire to be here for our kids and each other.

Monday, April 23rd
4:30  Volleyball games @ Stone Bank
6:30  School Board meeting

Tuesday, April 24th
IEP Power Day
4:15  Homework Club

Wednesday, April 25th
7:15  volleyball practice

Thursday, April 26th
Grade level and specials meetings
4:15  Homework Club

Friday, April 27th
7:15  volleyball practice

Important dates
May 11th- Grandparents Day
May 15th- concerts
May 24th- Half day career event
June 1st- Celebration Day
June 5th- 8th grade Day Away
June 6th- Awards assembly and 8th grade graduation

Great things I saw this week...
Robots in 5th grade.
Reading all over the building.
Snow piles, in April, and the kids having fun at recess.
Kids interested in their Social Studies projects.
Intramural volleyball during 7/8 lunch.
Dave having a blast with liquid nitrogen.  Ask the 7th graders about the onion.
The excitement of the kids in preparation for their first musical.
A guest teacher on Wednesday telling me how fantastic she thinks our school and students are.
More snow to make the snow piles even higher.
The kids did a nice job during the play, and the cast, crew, and directors of High School Musical Jr. were just plain awesome!
The "new" Kwik Trip up the street has 6 donuts for 99 cents!

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
Every "Best Practice" in Education Was Once an Innovation (from George Couros)

"Don't worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don't even try."
Jack Canfield

"Chance favors only the prepared mind."- Louis Pasteur, 1822-1895, French chemist and biologist

True happiness consists not in the multitude of friends, but in the worth and choice.
Ben Jonson,
playwright and poet

"Remember that happiness is a way of travel, not a destination."- Roy M. Goodman

Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.
Victor Hugo,
poet, novelist and dramatist

When I Realized I Would Be OK... (from Pernille Ripp)

"Don't persuade, defend, or interrupt.  Be curious., be conversational, be real.  And listen."-

Maybe you'd be interested in...
Summer Spark, a PD opportunity at University School of Milwaukee on June 11th and 12th.  I'm presenting, and I know someone who can get a deal for you on registration.  Please let me know if you are interested.

Enjoy the Spring weather this weekend.  Get outside, breathe in the fresh air, soak in the sun, and find family or friends to hang around with for a few hours.  You deserve some "away time" from school.
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Friday, April 13, 2018

Changes- none are easy

This week, each of our grade level teams was impacted by at least one change.  These changes are not easy and were not made impulsively.  Each move was made with a great deal of thought and reflection.  It's difficult to change teams as relationships have been built, but with these changes comes an opportunity for individuals and teams to get better.  We can't, however, forget about what comes before us the rest of this school year- our kids.  Your current team has the opportunity to finish strong for each other and the kids, and I encourage you to do all that you can for them and for each other.  Know that I will be there to support you through the rest of the year as well as through the transition that is soon to come.

Great things I saw this week...
The kids, and you, got right back to learning on Monday.
The seriousness of the kids doing their makeup Forward Exams.
Michael and his work with NJHS and the induction ceremony.
All staff who pitched in to help out with Homework Club and the NJHS ceremony.
The 5th graders creating golf holes for Spheros.
Brian V. joining in the 5th and 6th grade recess.
The band and jazz band during before and during the NJHS ceremony.
The choir singing the National Anthem at the NJHS ceremony. (Did anyone record that?  WOW!)
The behavior of the kids during the tornado drill.  John said he was highly impressed by our 8th graders and that they were the best he has seen for a drill.
Small group LA instruction in the Learning Lounge.
Barb being Barb with NJHS certificates and the fun we had on Tuesday.

Monday, April 16th
7:15  volleyball practice
4:15  BLT meeting

Tuesday, April 17th
8:55-9:40  cover Brian F.
4:15  Homework Club
5:20  volleyball games at Lake Country

Wednesday, April 18th
12:22-1:03  Social Studies
4:00  Culver's Night (I'm serving from 6:00-8:00!)

Thursday, April 19th
Grade level/specials meetings
10:30  6th/7th/8th grade see HS Musical Jr. play
1:45  5th grade sees HS Musical Jr. play
4:15  Homework Club

Friday, April 20th
7:00  High School Musical Jr.

Saturday, April 21st
2:00  High School Musical Jr.
7:00  High School Musical Jr.

Important dates
May 11th- Grandparents Day
May 15th- concerts
May 24th- Half day career event
June 1st- Celebration Day
June 5th- 8th grade Day Away
June 6th- Awards assembly and 8th grade graduation

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
Edith Wharton,

Can you follow this "learning norm"? (from George Couros)

The fear of becoming a "has been" keeps some people from becoming anything.
Eric Hoffer,
writer and social critic

Hold Your Tongue (from Pernille Ripp)

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."- Anne Frank, 1929-1945, Dutch diarist

"Isn't it nice to think that is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?" — L.M. Montgomery

A Way Out (from Pernille Ripp)

Invention, strictly speaking, is little more than a new combination of those images which have been previously gathered and deposited in the memory; nothing can come of nothing.
Joshua Reynolds,

It has been quite a week.  I was impressed by two things.  One was the professionalism that you all showed during our discussions on Wednesday.  The other was the kids, both on the "stage" and in the bleachers, during our NJHS assembly yesterday.  Thank you for Wednesday and for being with our kids yesterday.  When we raise our expectations for the kids, they can step up to them, without a doubt.  Keep those expectations high for the next seven plus weeks, and the kids will come through.  I just know that they will.
Have a fantastic Friday and a wonderful weekend.
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Friday, April 6, 2018

Morning's on break

I truly hope that you had a relaxing break and that you are ready to be back together for the kids.  Jen, Lauren, and I have enjoyed our time in Florida but I'm ready for a return to school.  I was able to spend time reading, running, and reflecting on the school year so far.  That also allowed me to contemplate our final quarter of the school year, celebrate the things we have done well and try to determine ways to do some things better.  I look forward to seeing you all on Monday morning.  Let's meet the kids outside and welcome them back!

Monday, April 9th
7:15  volleyball practice

Tuesday, April 10th
8:55  cover Brian F.
4:15  Homework Club
4:30  volleyball games at Merton

Wednesday, April 11th
8:00  All staff meeting
8:45  Student assembly
1:15  A-team meeting

Thursday, April 12th
Grade level meetings
2:00  National Junior Honor Society induction
4:15  Homework Club

Friday, April 13th
7:15  volleyball practice at Primary School
1:30  Future Ready Schools in Brookfield

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
Empowering Purpose (from George Couros)

(from @woodard_julie)

The Process is the Product (from George Couros)

Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.
philosopher and teacher

Who Keeps You In Line? (from Pernille Ripp)
Innovation Does Not Happen in Isolation (from George Couros)

Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.
Jane Goodall,
primatologist and anthropologist
#mertonint on Twitter
I was fortunate to spend an entire week with Jen and Lauren in Florida.  The weather was awesome but the chance to be together was even more important.  I also was able to read a couple of books while getting sunburned on the beach.  The favorite book I read was The Operator by Robert O'Neill.  Mr. O'Neill is the Navy SEAL who fired the shot that killed Osama bin Laden.  That story was only one chapter of the book.  The rest of the book is the reason I loved the book.  It is the story of someone who has an undying desire to do his best, all of the time.  He relies on his own intestinal fortitude and never give up attitude as well as the belief that his father has in him to be the best.  One line sticks out in the book that reminds me of our work together.  It was "stolen" by Mr. O'Neill from one of his troop's commanders- "Nobody ever worked for me.  They worked with me."  The Navy SEALs rely on each other to accomplish their mission.  No one person is more important in any mission.  If one SEAL fails in their part of the mission, another SEAL must step up or the mission will fail.  The same is true of our work with each student we come in contact with every day.  Remember that.  Our students rely on us on our good days and bad days and on their good days and bad days.    The work you do with our kids and each other cannot go underestimated or underappreciated.  Thank you for working with me every day to make our school and district the best it can be for our kids.

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