Friday, June 16, 2017

Still learning...

As I sit in my office this week, catching up on paperwork and planning for two presentations at the NAESP/NASSP Conference in Philadelphia, the silence of the school without you and the kids is deafening.  I don't often listen to music while at school, but I have been this week, and it's more for white noise than for singing, thank goodness.  I've also done some lurking on Twitter to learn from Summer Spark participants and read a few blogs that catch my attention.  One of my favorite bloggers is George Couros, author of The Innovator's Mindset.  He makes me think, makes me question what I do with and for you and the students, and pushes me to become a better principal.  His blog post from Sunday, What Lies Within Us?, made me pause.  Check out the link here.  You have heard me talk about finding the positive within our kids and each other quite often.  This blog post starts there with asking us to look for the talents of our students before looking for their deficits.  Doesn't that sound like an awesome idea?  Think about that as you begin to think about next year's students and families.  I know it's only the middle of June, but the kids are looking forward to next year already, and I'm sure many of you are, too.

Calendar
Week of June 19th
I'll be in every day, at least in the morning
Week of June 26th
Vacation with Jen and Lauren

Tweets, blogs, and quotes
"The secret in education lies in respecting the student."- Ralph Waldo Emerson

(from Pinterest)

Recognize, Rectify, Move Forward (from George Couros)

(from Pinterest)

Get the Most Out of Summer (from edutopia)


Removing Barriers and Hurdles (from George Couros)

(from Pinterest)

I hope your first week of summer has been relaxing and filled with family and friends.  Jen, Lauren, and I are going to the US Open today.  I'll be in next week at least in the morning if you want to stop by for any reason.  Construction is moving along so be aware that room access is very limited.
Have a great weekend!
Jay

Thursday, June 8, 2017

What is your impact?

A friend of mine from Twitter, and Voxer, and in person once, Todd Nesloney, elementary principal from Texas, was invited to do a TEDtalk recently.  Here is the link to his TEDtalk.  The video is 15 minutes long so maybe today's not the day to watch it.  But please bookmark it so that you can watch it soon.  It will make you think about your impact as an educator.  You make an impact every day, so why not make it be a positive impact?  I think about my impact every day and hope that I am making a positive impact.  If you've seen the movie "Saving Private Ryan", the scene at the end, in the cemetery, always gets me.  Here it is.  Lots of people make an impact in that movie, but Tom Hanks' character, Captain Miller, a teacher turned soldier, shows the care and compassion he has for his unit and for saving Private Ryan.  Whether you want to believe it or not, you are a Captain Miller for a lot of our students.  They may not let you know about the impact you have had, but trust in the fact that they are thankful about your efforts, and so am I.

Calendar
Week of June 12th
I am volunteering at the US Open golf tournament at Erin Hills on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday in the evening so would be able to meet if you would like.  I will be out on Friday all day celebrating my birthday and Father's Day with Jen and Lauren at the US Open.
Week of June 19th
I will be around all week, but not necessarily at school.  If you would like to meet, just let me know.
June 24th-July 3rd
Family vacation in Virginia Beach for national dance competition.  Wish me luck!

Tweets, blogs, and quotes
"Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside themselves was superior to circumstance."- Bruce Fairchild Barton, writer, advertising executive, and politician

5 Videos That Show How Technology Can Deepen Face-To-Face Relationships (from George Couros)

Adapt to, embrace, and create meaningful change (from George Couros)


Forget Guide on the Side...Students Need a Guide on the Ride (from AJ Juliani)
@mertonint on Twitter
#mertonint on Twitter
Merton Intermediate on Facebook
Merton Intermediate on Instagram
Family smore for 6.8.17

When we started the school year, our first blog post ended with three words- Be the one!  It was inspired by Gene Wilder's character in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory".  I watched you all this year find ways to "Be the one" for our kids and for each other.  Don't forget that you have a chance to make a difference every day, so why not make it a good difference.  If you need anything, don't hesitate to reach out.  I'm around most of the summer.  Take time for yourself and your family these next couple of weeks.  They deserve to have you back full time.
Be the one for them!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Friday, June 2, 2017

Celebrations

Do me a favor.  Think about one thing that you can celebrate from school this year.  What would it be?  I've been thinking about this for quite some time.  And I  have to be honest- I'm having a difficult time thinking of just one that really stands out.  The goal chain after the assembly, the 5th grade camping trip, the 6th graders and their portfolios, especially when a student invites me in to be a part of it, the 7th graders sharing their memoirs, the 8th graders launching hot air balloons, the color run and getting slimed.  I've met with some of you to discuss your SLO and PPG, but not all of you.  When we do meet, make sure that you share something you'd like to celebrate about the school year.  You have all done so many things with and for our kids, I bet the tough part will be narrowing it down to just one.

Great things I saw this week...
  • Students finishing up MAP testing
  • Geometry students working together to learn the unit circle (I certainly wasn't helpful.)
  • All of you keeping the learning the focus of our days
  • Skits in Spanish with the kids only speaking Spanish
  • 7th graders building kites in Math
  • Robots in 5th grade
  • Mentor training for next year's 5th graders
  • Washington, DC boot camp for kids and parents (Thanks, Becky and Dave!)
  • Michael putting on "The Voice" competition with the help of some staff judges
  • Math Cafe in 5th grade
  • Student portfolio presentations in 6th grade
  • Documentaries in Language Arts
  • Skits, all done in Spanish, in Spanish class
Tweets, quotes, and blogs
They Taught Me (from Pernille Ripp)
"Because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."- Edward Everett Hale, writer and minister
And Yet We Grow (from Pernille Ripp)
"The real fountain of youth is hidden in the imagination you draw upon to face everyday challenges."- Sophia Loren, actress

Who Wants to Change? (from George Couros)
"You probably wouldn't worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do!"- Olin Miller, humorist

"When you believe, really believe, something can be done, your mind goes to work for you and helps you find the ways to do it."- David Schwartz, writer and professor
5 Things I Learned About Teaching from Being a Student (from AJ Juliani)
"Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another."- Walter Elliott, clergyman

The image above reminded me that my #oneword for the year was "priorities".  How did you do with your #oneword?
@mertonint on Twitter
#mertonint on Twitter
Merton Intermediate School on Facebook
Merton Intermediate School on Instagram
Family smore for 6.2.17

Meemic Scholastic Book Grant
If you're interested in a chance for more books for your classroom, here's a link to a grant from Meemic.

I couldn't believe it when I turned the calendars (yes, I have more than one) in my office to June yesterday.  Where did the year go?  I think about the connections we've made with one another and with our students.  I think about our learning and the learning of our students.  And I start thinking about next year and the steps we can take to make next year better for our kids and each other.  But we have plenty of time to think about that.  Let's concentrate on Celebration Day and have fun with the kids today.
Be the one!
Jay
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell


Friday, May 26, 2017

Keep going strong!

So, after school yesterday I realized our 8th graders only have three days of school left- Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Friday is Celebration Day, the following Monday is the 8th grade Day Away and dance, and Tuesday is the Awards Assembly and graduation.  Wow!  I also realized that these next few days it is critical to do two things- keep the kids engaged in meaningful learning (because if you don't, behavior might become an issue) and be in the hallways before school, during passing time, and after school.  I'll be out and about all week, except for trying to finish up MAP tests on Tuesday, so if you need me, for anything, don't hesitate to ask me.

Great things I saw this week...
  • Partners working and learning together in Math, Social Studies, and Science.
  • Lots of reading and writing in Language Arts.
  • Students creating with foil and stitching (not together) in Art.
  • Kids learning to play tennis.
  • Kids excited to represent Merton in the Mega Math Meet.
  • 5th grade students, staff, and families enjoying Camp Minikani.
  • Building hot air balloons in Science.
  • 6th graders doing Genius Hour presentations.
  • Jackie working together with parents and students with a "never give up" attitude.
  • 6th graders sharing their portfolios with their families.
  • Kids helping each other learn in the hallways and in the final Homework Club.
  • 5th grade camp- kids and staff cheering each other on and working together to canoe, do the high ropes, and climb the rock wall.

Calendar
Monday, May 29th
  • Memorial Day- No School
Tuesday, May 30th
  • No office day!
Wednesday, May 31st
  • 8:00  IEP meeting
  • 1:30  PTO volunteer lunch
  • 1:30  A-team meeting
Thursday, June 1st
  • No office day!
Friday, June 2nd
  • Celebration Day

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
Be the One That Believes in Them... (from Ryan Sheehy)

"Life is what we make it--always has been, always will be."- Grandma Moses, folk artist
"Restlessness is discontent--and discontent is the first necessity of progress."- Thomas Edison, inventor
"When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around."- Willie Nelson, singer-songwriter


"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us."- Marianne Williamson, writer and activist (This might be the quote for my 8th grade graduation message.  What do you think?)
"If you are insecure, guess what?  The rest of the world is too.  Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself.  You are better than you think."- Timothy Ferriss, entrepreneur and writer
@mertonint on Twitter
#mertonint on Twitter
Merton Intermediate on Facebook
Merton Intermediate on Instagram
Family smore for 5.25.17

Meemic Back to School grants
Want some money for back to school stuff for your classroom?  Use this link to apply.  It's simple and it's easy.  Good luck!

Have a great day today.  I'll be out and about today, gone for lunch from 11:30-12:30, possibly at home for a bit to have a new dishwasher and microwave installed, and checking out the garden, too.  If you'd like me to stop in, send me an email or text or tweet and I'll get there as soon as I can.
Be the one!
Jay
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Friday, May 19, 2017

It's a beautiful life

Take a moment to listen to this song, "It's a Beautiful Life" by Ace of Base.
Part of the reason I wanted you to listen is because of the quote below by Frank Lloyd Wright- "The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes."  The other part is because of the beauty we should see in our lives every day.  I'm not talking about beautiful people, although that is a nice part of our lives.  I'm talking about beauty in a more figurative sense.  The beauty we have in the choices we are able to make, in school and out, that few others have the opportunity to make.  The beauty we have in living in a community that supports our schools and teachers.  The beauty we have working with colleagues who care about one another.  The beauty we have in teaching kids who want to learn and do there best.  Keep that in mind when one of those moments comes up during the next few weeks.  Someone somewhere else, maybe even someone sitting in your classroom, has it worse than you do.  I challenge you to find something beautiful before school begins again on Monday and share it with a family member, friend, or colleague.  And then ask them about something beautiful they found in their own life.

Great things I saw this week...
  • Staff continuing to provide activities that engage our kids.  I know I'll continue to see this next week, and the next week, and the next week.
  • Students playing tennis, a life long sport, even in the rain.
  • Students working really hard on their portfolios.
  • Excitement about the book fair.
  • Wonderful concerts last night.
  • Smiling faces at Culver's on Wednesday night.
  • Kids reading and writing, a lot.  And that's a good thing.
  • Kids really focused on MAP testing and giving their best.
  • Conversations about doing what's best for kids.  Keep the focus on the kids and we'll power through to the end of the year.


Calendar
Monday, May 22nd
  • 12:22-1:03  AHS AD visits 8th grade
  • 7:00  Board meeting
Tuesday, May 23rd
  • 5th graders at camp
  • 4:15-5:15  Final Homework Club
Wednesday, May 24th
  • 5th graders at camp
  • 4:30  retirement party
Thursday, May 25th
  • 5th graders at camp
  • Jeans for Troops ($5 to our veterans if you wear jeans)
Friday, May 26th
  • Professional Development Day

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
Managing drama (by Mark French)

"I've always tried to go a step past wherever people expected me to end up.  I'm not about to change now."- Beverly Sills, opera singer


"One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time."- Andre Gide, writer

(from SmartBrief)

"You can have the nine greatest individual ballplayers in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime."- Babe Ruth, baseball player


"You can't use up creativity.  The more you use, the more you have."- Maya Angelou, writer and civil rights activist



Co-teaching Twitter chat
If you have an interest, or even if you're a little intrigued, there is a Twitter chat this Sunday about co-teaching.  If you haven't participated in a Twitter chat before, don't be scared.  You don't have to add anything at all.  You can just read what others are posting.  If you want some advice on participation in this chat, or any chat, just ask me.  I'm happy to help!

Don't forget to sign up for a 10-15 minute meeting about your SLO/PPG.  These meetings are some of my favorites as we discuss the success of your students.  When we meet, make sure that you are ready to share one thing you are proud of from this year and one thing you would like to try next year.  That's all for now.
Be the one!
Jay
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell


Friday, May 12, 2017

Staff appreciation week- It was amazing!

I don't know about you, but I was blown away by the show of support from our PTO and families this week.  Every day was just one more reminder about how our families feel about us as educators.  You should also know this.  Although there is one week designated as Staff or Teacher Appreciation Week, we are fortunate to live in a community where we are appreciated nearly every day.  Think about the emails you get, or the phone calls you receive, or the conversations you have.  The support of our families is evident in each of them.  You might have to look or listen closely, but it's there.  Keep the focus on our kids over this last month.  They are the reason we are here.  You are the reason they are here.  If I don't say it enough, I apologize, but it is a pleasure to work with and for you each and every day.  Happy Staff Appreciation Week!

Calendar
Monday, May 15th
  • 7:30  IEP meeting
  • 4:15  Final BLT meeting
Tuesday, May 16th
  • 4:15  Homework Club
Wednesday, May 17th
  • 8:00  All staff meeting
  • 1:30  A-team meeting
  • 4:00  Final Sphero Club meeting
  • 4:00-8:00  Culver's Night
Thursday, May 18th
  • Grade level/specials meetings
  • 4:15  Homework Club
  • 5:30  Spring Concerts
Friday, May 19th
  • 1:00  4th grade transition
  • 3:00  5th grade HG&D
Tweets, quotes, and blogs
Fly me to the Moon (from Jeff Zoul)


The Full Story (from Pernille Ripp)


In the Small Details (from Pernille Ripp)


Get Excited to Teach (from We Are Teachers)
@mertonint on Twitter
#mertonint on Twitter
Merton Intermediate School on Facebook
Merton Intermediate School on Instagram
Family smore for 5.12.17

If you don't read anything else, please read this
While on Twitter or Facebook last night, watching NHL hockey, I came across this letter that I just had to share.  Please read it, carefully, and keep it in mind when we have discussions with each other and with families about students in our classrooms and schools.  It is a powerful message.
Letter to a parent

One final thought
I've been reading a lot of blogs over the past week and in one of them, or maybe in a combination of them, I remember reading something like this-

We don't have bad days.  We don't have bad mornings, or afternoons, or evenings.  We have bad moments.  And what we do after a bad moment determines how it will impact the rest of our day.

I don't know why this is important to me this week.  Maybe it will be important to me next week, or later today, or next year.  But it was important for me to share with you all today.  Maybe it's important to you today.  This video, shared by my mentee in Idaho with her staff, brings some of these thoughts to light.

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

P.S.- Don't forget to be at the flagpole by 8:35 this morning and I hope to see you at the get together after school.


Friday, May 5, 2017

It's May!

What an exciting week!  It was Spirit Week and so many students, and staff, dressed up.  I was able to get some pictures that you can check out on social media or in our family smore.  Having a chance to be a bit silly with the kids and each other further helps to build relationships.  As someone once said, "Students don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."  As the weeks wind down, the emotions of our kids, and our own emotions, will be as predictable as the weather.  Take a deep breath, contemplate your response or lack of response, and realize that we are dealing with middle school kids.  The best thing about middle school kids is that they are middle school kids.  Whether they admit it or not, they do want to learn.  Keep providing engaging activities, keep showing them you care, and they will surprise you with their effort, creativity, and work ethic.

Great things I saw this week...

  • Dissections in Science (starfish and frogs)!
  • Kids rollerskating, playing rugby and playing golf.
  • Tweets from many staff about the things going on in your classrooms and on the NJHS camp experience.
  • The flexibility of staff for all of the activities that happen in May.  These activities help us develop more well-rounded kids.  Thank you for understanding the importance of that.
  • The incredible work our IAs do with all of our kids.  It doesn't go unnoticed.
  • IEP meetings- Wow for all of you!
  • Grade level meeting discussions about kids and what's best for kids.
  • The stuff our PTO does for our students and us is amazing.
  • Spirit Week was amazing thanks to Student Senate.
  • All of the students and adults working hard to be ready for Grandparents' Day.

Calendar
Staff Appreciation Week (Always the first full week in May)
Monday, May 8th
  • Coffee and doughnut breakfast from the PTO
Tuesday, May 9th
  • Garden gift from the PTO
  • 4:15-5:15  Homework Club
Wednesday, May 10th
  • Soup, salad, and potato lunch buffet from the PTO
  • 8:00-8:30  Staff meeting
  • 3:40-4:00  All school assembly
    • Adjusted schedule for 7th/8th.
    • We always impact our morning classes, so we're going to impact afternoon classes this time.
    • All staff will attend with their classes.
  • 4:15-5:15  Insurance meeting
Thursday, May 11th
  • Treat day from the PTO
  • 8:00-8:30  IA meeting
  • Grade level/Specials meetings
  • 4:15-5:15  Homework Club
Friday, May 12th
  • Gift presentation from the PTO
    • Please be at the flag pole by 8:35.  You won't want to miss it!
Tweets, quotes, and blogs
The Fence (from Jon Harper)


3 Misconceptions About Innovation in Education (from George Couros)


5 Reasons to Ban Fidget Spinners from Every Classroom in America (Shared with me by a staff member, and it's not what you think.  Please read it!)


On the Reality of Trying to Create More Readers (from Pernille Ripp)


@mertonint on Twitter
#mertonint on Twitter
Merton Intermediate on Facebook
Merton Intermediate on Instagram
Family smore for 5.5.17

As a reminder...

  • Please make sure to be a presence in our hallways during passing times and before and after school.
  • Check your grade level meeting agenda for notes and important dates.
  • Kids will live up to your expectations so keep those expectations high.
  • Find something nice to say about each student at least once a week.  It will help them know that you really care, and I know you really do care.
What are you proud of?
We all have something we are proud of.  I'm proud of our work in school, I'm proud of our kids, and I'm proud of you.  First and foremost, I'm proud of my daughter and my wife.  They have to put up with me every day, and I'm not the easiest person to get along with on a daily basis.  They know that there are times when school must come first, and I hope they know that sometimes I'm able to change something on my schedule to make sure that family comes first.  You've heard me say "Family first" how many times?  Sometimes Lauren and Jen need to remind me of that, too.  This weekend is a weekend for family.  It's Lauren's final recital, and I get to dance with her in the father/daughter dance tonight and tomorrow.  I'm sure a video will pop up somewhere, but I had to share this video of Lauren and some of her friends dancing to "Space Between".  You can even vote for it, if you'd like.  Enjoy!

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