Thursday, September 14, 2017


As we continue with another strong week of school, I begin to consider the expectations that we have for our students and for each other.  The moment we let the expectations slip a little bit, the more they are going to slip.  Let's keep the expectations high for the students, reminding them of our school procedures and acknowledging those who are meeting or exceeding the expectations that we have for them.  The same should be true of one another.  Starting next week, I want to make sure that we start looking at data from classrooms.  Let's see where our kids are doing well and where they need support.  And then lets find ways to get those supports into place.  It's been a great start, but we can always get better, for our kids and for each other.

Great things I saw this week...
Students and staff showing school spirit at our assembly
Staff joining lunch and recess from time to time
Workshop and interventions and conferring happening in all sorts of places
Kids excited about learning
I got a hug from an 8th grade boy who needs more hugs than we can give him, especially on his bad days
Kids inviting our new students into groups
Clean hallways- the kids are really taking pride in the new look of our building
Words going up in the hallways
Staff stepping up to do what's best for kids, and each other
The 5th grade band's first note together

Monday, September 18th
5:30  5th grade FIN
6:30  7th/8th grade FIN
Tuesday, September 19th
4:15  Homework Club
5:30  6th grade FIN
Wednesday, September 20th
8:00  Boosterthon staff meeting
Thursday, September 21st
Grade level meetings
4:15  Homework Club

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
(from Pinterest)

"One" is Not Enough (from George Couros)

You're More Than a Letter Grade: Letter to a Discouraged Student (from Danny Steele)

Every Day is Awareness for Survivors: It's How We Use It--Suicide Prevention Week 2017 (from Sarah Johnson)
(from Pinterest)
#mertonint on Twitter
#MertonProud on Twitter
Merton Intermediate Facebook page
Merton Intermediate Instagram page
Student assembly 9.13.17
Family smore for 9.15.17

PBIS reward suggestions
Thanks to the 7/8 team for sharing their PBIS ideas with us on Wednesday morning.  If you are looking for some ideas for rewards, this website is chock full of them.  Please let me know how I might be able to support you with this.

Just so you know...
I have heard from families this week.  They stopped me in the hallway to share with me how much their kids love this year at the Intermediate School.  They weren't shocked that their kids were enjoying their experiences.  I believe it was expected.  They just wanted me to know that they appreciate all that you do for their children.  Sometimes I don't tell you enough, because the little things sometimes go overlooked when they shouldn't.  You spend time in class getting to know the kids.  You spend time outside class getting to know the kids in a different way.  They notice, I notice, and their families notice.  Keep reaching out to families.  They want to hear from us, the good stuff and the bad stuff, so that they can celebrate with us and support us.  Try to make one good phone call or send one good email each week.  It will make you feel good, I promise.

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

Thursday, September 7, 2017


I celebrated, and dreaded, September 5th.  It was our first day of school- a real celebration- because the kids were back.  We're in education for kids, not for the adults.  And I don't mean for that to sound negative or offensive.  The kids are why I'm an educator.  End of story.  I also dreaded September 5th as it was the day of a funeral of one of my friends, Johnny.  He was not a close friend, but when we were together, he had time for me, he listened to me, he told great jokes, and we ended every meeting with a hug.  I knew that he was suffering from cancer, but I didn't take the time to reach out to him, and before I could, he died.  It's not a very upbeat message, but it does make a point.
Our kids look up to us, every day, whether they show it or not.  Do we take the time to recognize them, each of them, every day?  It can be a daunting task, but it sure is an important one.  Think about your interactions with kids this week.  Did you find the time for them or use time as an excuse?  Did you head into the hallway between classes?  Did you stop down into the lunch room or go out for recess?  Did you greet them at the door more than just on Tuesday?  Did you walk them to the buses?  If you did, they noticed.  If you didn't, they noticed that, too.  Please find a way to reach out to the kids that is a little different than just classroom interactions.  It will build relationships that will pay dividends throughout the school year and beyond.  Because some day it may be too late.  Just like it was for me with Johnny.

Great things I noticed...
7th and 8th grade staff performing the Merton Way rap
Kids reading
Relationship building activities (too many to mention)
Patrick reading aloud the whizpopper section of BFG
Kids reaching out to our new kids to make connections
The gaga ball pit is a hit
Procedures are being established and practiced
The family atmosphere in our grade level meetings
Discussion of penny wars to help support a school impacted by the hurricanes

Tuesday, September 12th
Homework Club  4:15-5:15PM
Annual meeting  7:00PM

Wednesday, September 13th
Merton Blue Day!
Staff meeting 8:15
RtI Wednesday assembly  8:40 (All staff will sit with their homerooms.)

Thursday, September 14th
Grade level meetings!
Homework Club  4:15-5:15PM

Friday, September 15th
Coaches meeting  8:00-8:30
7th and 8th grade dance  7:00-9:00PM (Want to chaperone?  You will be compensated!)

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
Finding the Good in the Bad (from George Couros)

(from Pinterest)

(from Pinterest)

(from The Minds Consciousness via Facebook)

Positive phone calls home
Don't forget about sending one student to me per grade level this morning, along with the reason or reasons for the phone call.  Please don't tell them why you're sending them to the office.  If you have more than one student per grade level, find a moment or two to make the phone call home yourself.  You'll be glad that you did.

My hat is off to you for a great first week!

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

Friday, September 1, 2017


The school year is upon us.  What is your attitude about it?  Can you change your attitude?  It's quite a question, isn't it?  Here is a blog post from Tim McDermott, a principal in my PLN.  Please take a moment to read his post.  Maybe this is a thought for later in the year, but maybe it isn't.  If we can think and take the time to change our attitude to something positive to start the year, it would be beneficial for our students, our colleagues, our Merton families, and our own families.  Are you up to the challenge?

Monday, September 4th
Labor Day- Enjoy time with your family and friends!

Tuesday, September 5th
First day with students!  Yay!  Everyone meet them outside by 8:30!
I cover Geometry 10:19-11:00
I leave for a funeral right after school

Wednesday, September 6th
Nothing planned, so I'll be in classrooms all day!

Thursday, September 7th
See Wednesday

Friday, September 8th
See Wednesday

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
Because of the power of these blogs, there are only two blogs for you to read this week.
What's Your Rush? (from Ben Gilpin)
Make Someone's Day (from (Mark French)

Thanks for your time this morning!
Let's be the one for our students, each other, and our families this year!  Here's the presentation, if you're interested.
Be the One!

Have a great weekend!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Monday, August 28, 2017

Let the teachers teach!

Last week was an awesome week for me.  You all came back to work, ready to prepare your rooms, ready to work with your teams, and ready to learn together.  Thanks to Jessica, Brenda J., Mary, Andrea, and Martica for putting together a fantastic Harry Potter themed learning experience for all of us.  As I sat back and took it all in on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, it was great to see us learning from each other.  As we have heard before, we are our greatest resource.  Thanks for sharing in the learning this week!

Tuesday, August 29th
PD all day! (8:00-4:00)
School board meeting 7PM
Wednesday, August 30th
Get ready for the families! (11:00-7:00)
Staff photos at 4:00
Thursday, August 31st
Training all day! (8:00-4:00)
CPI training in the gym starting at 8:00
Other mandatory trainings to follow
Friday, September 1st
Work day (8:00-4:00)
Staff meeting 8:30 in the Little Theater
Lunch and learn- financial planning (12:00-12:45)

Tweets, blogs, and quotes
What's Your Compelling Reason? (from George Couros)

 (from Pinterest)

Investing in the Future (from George Couros)

(from Pinterest)

(shared by Megan Mastrocola, Mike's daughter)

(from Pinterest)

(from Facebook)

I had a chance to take some more photos of the school so I updated our YouTube video about the changes around the school.  Here it is!

I can't wait to see you all tomorrow, and I'm looking to seeing all of our students and families on Wednesday.  I am ready for a great year.  Are you?
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Friday, August 18, 2017

It's time to learn together!

I can't believe it.  We'll be back together on Monday, getting reconnected, building new connections, and learning with one another.  Just so you know, here's the plan for next week.
Monday, August 21st
*All staff breakfast/ introductions of new staff/ meeting beginning at 7:45 in Primary Cafe
*Work time/ grade level meetings?/ individual meetings with me following the meeting
*Lunch on your own
Tuesday, August 22nd
*All staff meet in the Intermediate Library ready to go at 8:00
*Taco bar for lunch
Wednesday, August 23rd
*8:00 start time
*Pasta bar for lunch
Thursday, August 24th
*8:00 start time
*Lunch on your own
*3:30 at my house for a tailgate party!

This link below is the sign up for dinner for Open House night, provided by our wonderful PTO!  Please complete before Friday, August 25th!
Dinner for Staff at Open House

Tweets, blogs, and quotes
Things Change and Things Stay the Same (from George Couros)

(from Pinterest)

On the First Day (from Pernille Ripp)

(from Pinterest)

Power of Hope and Education (from Tony Sinanis)

(from Pinterest)

(from Pinterest)

So, I learned something new and made an iMovie trailer
This shows some of the updates to our school.  I'm going to be adding some more new pictures once you all have some rooms set up so that I can share it with our families the week of Open House.  If you have some ideas for other pictures (I think the picture of the table and green wall is in this three times), just let me know.

Enjoy the next three days with your family and friends.  Your room will be there on Monday.  I look forward to seeing you all on Monday, and don't forget your flipgrid!
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Thursday, August 10, 2017

It's the last week of summer...

It's the last week of summer,
And all through the school,
The custodial staff and others,
Are making the building look cool.

New furniture, new paint,
And a fresh coat of wax,
The building looks great,
Soon the kids will be back.

I can't wait to see you,
And of course the kids, too,
Don't forget to schedule a meeting,
And do your flipgrid, too.

Tweets, blogs, and quotes
3 Quotes on Becoming Successful (from George Couros)

What Parents Wish We Would Ask Them About Their Child (from Pernille Ripp)

I'll be sending something like this to families.  Anyone want to co-write it with me?
Education Decision Making Flowchart (from George Couros)
@Joesanfelippofc: When you ask your kids how school was do they say "I don't know" or "I don't know where to start?" Change the narrative people!!!
Are.You.Ready? (from Jeff Kubiak)

Calendar (Please remember to find a time to meet with me, and don't forget your flipgrid video!)
Monday, August 14th
In all day
11:45 with Carrie R.
12:30  Online registration begins
Tuesday, August 15th
In all day
9:00  Garden
11:15  Boosterthon meeting (more to come on this)
Wednesday, August 16th
In all day
New staff meetings
Thursday, August 17th
In all day
9:00  Garden
Friday, August 18th
In until noon

I can't wait to see all of you.  I have enjoyed the meetings with those of you who have been able to stop in during your busy summers.  The conversations are great, and they are all about getting better for our kids.
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

What is this #PIAchat thing all about?

#principalsinaction is a wonderful group of principals who are always working to be better for their kids and their schools.  There is a running hashtag on Twitter where principals, and others in and out of education, can see the wonderful things that principals are doing every day. The group consists of about 100 principals that stretch from coast to coast across this beautiful nation.

But there is also a Twitter chat that occurs on Tuesday nights at 8CST that is what we consider the fastest 30 minutes on Twitter.  Moderators post a few questions and principals from all over the country respond.  We end with a call to action or a challenge that many of the principals take on as the focus of sharing the great things principals do.

For me (Mark), engaging in Twitter chats has provided some of best professional development I have received, and it's free! I started as a lurker, advanced to answering questions and contributing, to these days volunteering to facilitate and lead Twitter chat discussions. After four years of Twitter chats, I can even engage in two chats at once provided I'm using the TweetDeck tool.

For me (Ryan), Twitter chats have been a way to constantly push my thinking and hear what others have to say on topics that I am not so comfortable with. It took my awhile before I felt comfortable with jumping in and actively participating in the chat. I would sit and watch the chat, but thought that no one could learn from me. I was wrong! There is so much power in sharing your thoughts and your story. Your answer to some of the questions might spark a thought of another person and that is what it is all about. Pushing each other to better leaders and better people.

For me (Jay), Twitter chats really got me started in the Twitterverse. I initially was a lurker, like Mark, but when I jumped into the discussion, I realized I could learn so much more. The connections began and with it came a comfort level to connect with others face to face at conferences and EdCamps. Before Twitter, I either wouldn’t have known other attendees or I would have been nervous to walk up to speak with them. Twitter became the conduit to deeper professional relationships that fostered learning unlike any other learning before.

Why take part in a chat?
  1. Chats help to focus a conversation.  Moderators or co-moderators post questions that pertain to a topic, often in a Q1 (Question 1), A1 (Answer 1) format.  Chat participants answer the questions and this oftens provides ideas and suggestions that hadn’t been thought of before.
  2. Chats provide connections to others with similar and different perspectives. This allows the participants to grow and learn in ways that don’t occur in other ways, like reading books or blogs.  Participating in chats helps to grow your professional learning network, or PLN.
  3. Chats can be searched by hashtag. Our hashtag tonight is #PIAchat, short for #principalsinaction chat. If you happen to miss the chat, you can always go back and search for the hashtag to see what you missed.

Hopefully you can join us for #PIAchat at 8CST tonight (August 8, 2017) and get to learn what this #PIAchat thing is all about!