Friday, February 16, 2018

We teach with our heart

It was Valentine's Week, the week that brings us closer to the ones we love.  It's also the week that can break your heart.  As educators, we wear our emotions on our sleeves, even those of you who don't think so.  I can see it.  Wednesday was a great day for our kids in Merton.  There was learning, some candy, and the feel of a normal school day.  The energy was high because it was Valentine's Day and there was a planned field trip for our 7th and 8th graders the next day.  We even had a fire drill, something that has become routine for all of us.  And then I saw the news about the school shooting in Florida.  I remembered Columbine and Sandy Hook.  The schools and what happened at those schools is something that none of us will ever forget.  And now we add Marjory Stoneman Douglas.  I think you all know how much I care about the safety and security of our school, our students, and our staff.  Please do me a favor.  Think through our safety plans- fire, tornado, intruder- and make sure to let me know if you have any concerns about any of them.  I know we are prepared for an intruder.  I don't want to scare the students, or you, but you just never know when something could happen.  Know that Ron, Mike, John, the school board, and I think about the security of our schools, sometimes even in our sleep.  As we have time together today, don't hesitate to talk to one another about our plans and if something comes up that's a concern, please come and see me.  I'm here until 4:00 today (It's a great day for hockey in Madison!) and I'll be out and about all day, except for a few meetings and an 11:30 run in the fitness room.

Great things I saw...
Strategy groups in the learning lounge, almost all day long.
Spanish students gearing up for the placement test at Arrowhead.
Great conversations with staff for midyear and formal observations (hint, hint).
Winter Olympics in the gym.
Sheriff Kelly's presentations to our students and staff.
Tubing trip for our 7th and 8th graders.
The BLT continues to push our school to be better in every way.
The work you will be doing today (I just know it's going to be a great day of learning).

Monday, February 19th
No School
6:30  School board meeting

Tuesday, February 20th
4:15  Homework Club

Thursday, February 22nd
Arrowhead Choral festival
4:15  Homework Club

Friday, February 23rd
7-9PM  Mardi Gras dance
  • Important future dates
  • February 28th- Student Senate carnival training
  • March 2nd- Student Senate carnival
  • March 13th- concerts
  • March 16th- Merton Art Show 4-7PM at St. John's church
  • March 19th-31st- Forward exam (schedule under development)
  • April 12th- NJHS induction
  • April 19th- High School Musical Junior
    • 6th-8th see in the AM
    • 3rd-5th see in the PM
  • May 11th- Grandparents Day
  • May 15th- concerts

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
Moving From "Stealing" to "Remixing" With Credit (from George Couros)
(from Pinterest)

The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg. ... Dreams are the seedlings of realities.
James Allen,
The Next "You" (from George Couros)

(from Pinterest)

(borrowed from @PrincipalJ's nuts and bolts)

Family smore for 2.16.18

Have a great Friday, and a great long weekend!
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Friday, February 9, 2018

What adjustments did you make?

Education is all about adjustments.  Today is a perfect example, isn't it?  Now that you have the day, and the weekend, to reflect, is there anything that you want to adjust about what you were going to do with the kids?  I know that this post morphed since I began writing on Wednesday.  In fact, here it is, almost 10:30 and I haven't sent this out to you.  That's a change, one that seems small but it was still difficult to make the change.  So, any chance you'll be making a change for your learning on Monday?

Great things I saw this week...
Passionate conversations with students about expectations for success.
Students taking ownership of their learning, and even teaching their classmates.
Outdoor recess!
Google expeditions and Google AR.  Can you believe what you can do with these tools for the benefit of our kids?
Staff coming in early to learn about Google AR.

Monday, February 12th
4:15  BLT meeting

Tuesday, February 13th
12:10-1:00 7/8 Resource officer assembly
1:10-2:00  5/6 Resource officer assembly
4:15  Homework Club

Wednesday, February 14th
8:00  WIN Wednesday with Corinne and Sarah

Thursday, February 15th
7th and 8th grade field trip
Grade level and specials meetings

Friday, February 16th
Professional development
  • Important future dates
  • March 13th- concerts
  • March 14th, 15th, or 16th- Whitewater Wheelchair basketball (tentative)
  • March 16th- Merton Art Show 4-7PM at St. John's church
  • March 19th-31st- Forward exam
  • April 12th- NJHS induction
  • April 19th- High School Musical Junior
    • 6th-8th see in the AM
    • 3rd-5th see in the PM
  • May 11th- Grandparents Day
  • May 15th- concerts
Tweets, quotes, and blogs
The Road Right in Front of You (from George Couros)
"You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down."- Mary Pickford, Canadian actress and Academy Award winner
"We call them leaders because they go first." (from George Couros)

Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.
John Cotton Dana,

(from Pinterest)

I was never afraid of failure, for I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest.
John Keats,
The True Power of Technology (from Pernille Ripp)
Family smore for 2.9.18

I have had a wonderful conference, but I miss the kids and I miss you.  In speaking with principals from around the state, I realized even more how lucky I am to have the opportunity to serve you, our students, and our community.

Have a wonderful long weekend, and I'll see you on Monday!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Who did you lift up this week?

Last Friday, I encouraged each of you to fill out a "National Compliment Day" sheet.  I hope that you all completed one and I hope that you all got one, too.  Sometimes complimenting someone can make you feel better than if you received a compliment yourself.  On a related note, did you lift up a student this week?  We have Mustang Medals, #GoodNewsCallOfTheDay, Merton Rockstar Lanyards in 7th and 8th grade, and the opportunity to acknowledge our students with words, a hug, a high five, or a fist bump.  I encourage you all to find a student today to acknowledge and compliment.  It will make them feel great, and you'll probably feel pretty good, too.

Great things I saw this week...
I say this every week, but I appreciate so much all that each of you do to help out when staff is absent, from helping the guest teacher to covering a class.  Thank you!
The energy in classrooms when you are facilitating learning.  If you are passionate about the learning, the kids will be passionate about the learning, too.
The Student Senate Executive Committee wowing the school board on Monday night.
NJHS students helping out students in Homework Club.
Students behaving well for our guest teachers.
Some 5th grade girls that sat with me at lunch today because all of the 5th graders I was sitting with went outside.
Silent reading time and all of the kids reading.
Michelle trying out Screencastify for a lesson in the morning because she had a guest teacher in the afternoon.

Monday, February 5th
7PM  Strategic planning

Tuesday, February 6th
4:15  Homework Club

Wednesday, February 7th
AWSA conference after lunch
5th and 6th grade family conferences

Thursday, February 8th
AWSA conference all day so no grade level meetings
4:15  Homework Club (I could really use some help with this today as I'm in the Dells for a conference.  You are compensated with actual money.  Please email me if you are able to help out.  Thanks!)- Lindsay is helping, but if anyone else is willing, that would be great, too!
5th grade family conferences

Friday, February 9th
AWSA conference in the morning
7PM  Mardi Gras dance
  • Important future dates
  • February 13th- Resource officer assemblies
    • 12:10-1:00 7th and 8th grade (no 5th hour)
    • 1:10-2:00  5th and 6th grade
  • WIN Wednesday with Corinne and Sarah
  • March 13th- concerts
  • March 14th, 15th, or 16th- Whitewater Wheelchair basketball (tentative)
  • March 19th-31st- Forward exam
  • April 12th- NJHS induction
  • April 19th- High School Musical Junior
    • 6th-8th see in the AM
    • 3rd-5th see in the PM
  • May 11th- Grandparents Day
  • May 15th- concerts
Tweets, quotes, and blogs
The Work Behind the Work (from George Couros)

(from Pinterest)

It's Time (from Jon Harper)
(from Pinterest)

Video challenge for Digital Learning Day
I'm so looking forward to seeing the great things that you do with this challenge.  If you have a chance, invite me in when you're giving it a try.  Here is the link for the challenge if you don't remember where it is.

And the new recipients are...
Rockstar- Jim Binney for his work with Google Expeditions and Google AR
Fix It Award- Jackie Kohnert for all of the work she does with our kids to help them overcome difficult times with family and friends.

I appreciate all that you do with and for our kids and each other every day.  Have you ever just reflected on what you did for the day?  I do that all the time, and I make sure to find one thing that was a positive from the day.  As people, and educators, we often focus on the negative.  Do yourself a favor and find that one really positive thing from today and carry that through the weekend.  It will make your weekend so much better.
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Brick Walls

Brick Walls- not the Pink Floyd lyrics- but the walls that limit our creativity and risk taking and trying out new things.  I wasn't listening to Pink Floyd when I thought about it, but I did afterward.  I was reading a SmartBrief and the quote below was embedded.

The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough.
Randy Pausch,

So, as we begin the second half of the school year, let's try to break down some of our personal brick walls.  Try something new.  Have the kids try something new.  Try a different way of presenting information to the kids.  Try a new food.

Thursday, January 25
Kindness Olympics
Lunch on BLT (not BLT lunch)

Friday, January 26
8:00  Staff meeting in the Learning Lounge

Monday, January 29
6:30  School board meeting

Tuesday, January 30
11-2:30  AWSA in Madison
4:15-5:15  Homework Club

Wednesday, January 31
1:15-3:15  A-team meeting

Thursday, February 1
Grade level/specials meetings
4:15-5:15  Homework Club

Friday, February 2
No Office Day!

Tweets, quotes, and blogs

A Teacher's Regret...Lesson Learned (from Laurie Smith)

#EdCampMadWI sessions (I encourage you to look through the opportunities for learning from last Saturday.)

Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you -- they're supposed to help you discover who you are.
Bernice Johnson Reagon,
musician and activist

(from Pinterest)

"You can never make up for a lost day...Don't think you can make up for it by working twice as hard tomorrow.  If you have it within your power to work twice as hard, why aren't you doing it now?"
John Wooden, 1910-2010, American basketball coach

A new idea comes suddenly and in a rather intuitive way. But intuition is nothing but the outcome of earlier intellectual experience.
Albert Einstein,
theoretical physicist

I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones.
John Cage,

"Passive Learner" to "Active Creator" (from George Couros)
Family smore for 1.25.18

One last thing...
I am giving back to principals on Tuesday and I need help from you.  I will miss both lunches and recesses and I need someone to step up to help with coverage.  If you are willing and able to help out, you will receive a GOOSE pass.  Please let me know if you are interested.  Thanks for your consideration.

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

Friday, January 19, 2018

Time to reflect

Next week is the halfway point.  As a coach, I would always need to reassess at half time.  We would celebrate what we were doing well and make plans to adjust what we weren't doing so well.  As we get to our halftime, I encourage you to reflect on the first half of the year.  What do you have to celebrate about your classroom or your students?  How do you share that with your colleagues and your students?  These are two vital questions for getting better.  I encourage you to reflect this weekend.  It will be something that you can share with me as we begin our mid-year meetings starting the week of January 29th.

Great things I saw this week...
5th and 6th grade stepping up to help out due to staff absences.
Staff coming together for Heidi.  We miss you, Heidi!
Great partner work in 7th and 8th grade Science, Health, and PE.
Staff and students working in our new Learning Lounge.
Reading in the library and in classrooms.
TEDtalks in 6th grade (I didn't see it, but I heard about it.).
Badminton and broomball in PE.
Jazz band practice (I heard it but I couldn't stop in to hear it.).
Great effort on MAP tests.
The chance to be a teacher again, which made me more in awe of you than you can know.

Saturday, January 20
#EdCampMadWI (If you can't join me there for karaoke and the mascot contest, please try to follow the hashtag.  Either way is free, and there's a great chance you'll learn something new!)
Kindness Week

Monday, January 22
Eat and Greet
7:00  Strategic planning

Tuesday, January 23
Teamwork Recess
4:15  Homework Club

Wednesday, January 24
Workout Wednesday
Wacky Day
5:15  Strategic planning

Thursday, January 25
Kindness Challenge Olympics
Lunch on BLT (Soup, Salad, and Bread)
Half day-PD in the PM
Staff get together- location TBD

Friday, January 26
8:00  Staff meeting
8:30-12:00  PD

Tweets, blogs, and quotes
All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions.
Adlai Stevenson II,
politician and diplomat

Kids these days... (from Pernille Ripp)

(from Pinterest)

Relationships Are the Foundation of Great Schools (But They Aren't Enough) (from George Couros- This one really made me reflect.)

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
George Bernard Shaw,

(from Sean Galliard)

(from Math Education SmartBrief)

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all -- in which case, you fail by default.
J.K. Rowling,
(from Pinterest)

My favorite things in life don't cost any money. It's really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.
Steve Jobs,

Family smore for 1.19.18

My apologies for not being in as many classrooms for mini-observations this week.  I was able to cover classes, and I love doing that, but it kept me out of your classrooms and seeing the great things you are doing.  Provided I don't have to cover classes, I'll be in your classrooms next week.  Thanks for either covering or offering to cover classes this week.  You don't know how much it means to me when you offer to help out your colleagues.
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

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