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!

Friday, August 4, 2017

What can we learn from each other?

In a couple of weeks, we'll be back together learning from one another.  There is truly no preparation needed, except for making sure that you complete your 30 second flipgrid video.  Don't know what I'm talking about?  Check this link to last week's nuts and bolts.  And please don't forget about setting up a time to meet with me before school starts.  I'm talking to all of you here no matter what your title.  There are three questions we'll be discussing which can also be found in last week's nuts and bolts.  Be open to stretching your thinking, sharing your ideas, and having deep conversations about what we can do a little better for our students and each other.  Be ready to share any summer learning with one another, no matter where or how that learning took place.  Let's make sure that we model our learning for one another but, more importantly, for our students.  They need to see that we continue to learn all the time.

Monday, August 7th
In most of the day
Tuesday, August 8th
In most of the day
Garden 9-11
New Principals with AWSA in Pewaukee at 2:00
Wednesday, August 9th
In most of the day
Meeting with Heidi 9AM
PTO meeting 10AM
Thursday, August 10th
In most of the day
Garden 9-11
GHO at 11:00 (I'm starting a podcast!)
Friday, August 11th
In for the morning (if necessary)

Tweets, blogs, and quotes
A Different Gift (from Brad Gustafson)
What is your 2.0? (from Spike Cook)
Perfect on Paper? (from Ben Gilpin)
Finding Inspiration in Yourself (from George Couros)

Time for a challenge
I'm part of a group of principals that follow the hashtag #principalsinaction.  We have a weekly challenge so I thought I'd give you all one for next week.  Ready- Get outside as often as you can.  Go to the State Fair with family and/or friends.  Leave your phone or other device in another room when you invite over family and/or friends.  Read the book you've wanted to read all summer long.  Do I expect you to do all of these challenges?  No way, but wouldn't that be a great summer week?

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

Thursday, August 3, 2017

How do you challenge yourself?

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With school starting back up around the country it is important to start thinking, How do you challenge yourself? Jay Posick, Mark French, and I (Ryan Sheehy) are principals that have connected through being in a PLN called Principals In Action. Principals in Action is a group that was started by one of the Kids Deserve It authors, Adam Welcome. It started with a challenge by Adam to ride the slide with kids then tweet the picture using the #principalsinaction hashtag. The group is now so much more than a hashtag. Using Voxer as our communication platform, we communicate on a daily basis, discussing triumphs, struggles, and the everyday occurences of being a principal.  We currently are a group of over 100 administrators that have made a goal of being out of the office and truly being a principal in action. Our group stretches from coast to coast and everywhere in between.

One of the ways we have been able to challenge each other on a daily basis is through creating challenges that everyone participates in then tweets about using the #principalsinaction hashtag. These challenges come out each week and are posted all over Twitter by using the hashtag. This past year some of the challenges included: ride a tricycle, ride the bus, serve food in the lunchroom, eat lunch with students, play on the swings, and read to students. These challenges are constantly pushing administrators out of their office and out with kids and staff.

For me (Ryan), last year was my first year as a principal. Being part of this PLN provided me a level of encouragement, professional development, and outside thinking that I was not getting in my district. The challenges provided me an excuse to document some of the fun things I was doing outside of my office. I have shown up to principal meetings and other principals look at me and say, “Ryan, it always looks like you are having fun.” I am and I show it off because school should be fun and the challenges had that component for me. I have enjoyed riding tricycles, slipping down slides, serving lunch in the cafeteria, and just being with kids. We need to be the one that shows teachers, students, and parents that principals need to be with kids, not in their office.

For me (Jay), I was in my tenth year as principal in the same building. #principalsinaction provided the inspiration and support to get out of my office, interact with students and staff, and accept challenges. I honestly don’t remember all of them, but I do remember my favorite one, shadowing a student for a day. I actually shadowed two students- a 6th grader in the morning and a 7th grader in the afternoon Lunch and recess duty were sandwiched between the two shadowing opportunities. The day was spent in classrooms learning right alongside the students. Interested students filled out a Google form and then a random number selector determined who I shadowed. The students and staff were awesome that day and it was amazing being in the classrooms with them as a student. I think the staff enjoyed me being in their classrooms far more than an observation or a walkthrough, too.

For me (Mark), last year was my 35th as an educator and 20th as an elementary school principal. Being connected with other leaders across the country has revitalized my attitude and energized my spirit. I have a group of colleagues who inspire, motivate, encourage, and hold me accountable. The challenges get me out of my office and connecting with students, teachers, food service team members, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, custodians, parents, and other stakeholders. I am excited to be a principal in action at this point in my career.

We challenge you to get out of your office and interact with your students and staff members. We encourage you to follow the #principalsinaction hashtag and participate in the challenges. Find ways to share your experiences with your school community through your newsletter, blog, and social media accounts. Join the movement, get out of your office, and show others how much fun being a principal can be!

Friday, July 28, 2017

The excitement builds!

I am so excited for the school year to begin.  I feel like it's my first day of school all over again.  The building looks awesome, the classrooms look new, and I've got so many ideas to help us get to the next level as a school community.  But it's not a one person job, that's for sure.  I'm going to need each one of you to take us there.  No one person is more or less important than the other.  We're all in this together!  (Did anyone else just start singing that song from High School Musical?)  Before the school year begins, I'd like to meet with each of you individually.  I just want to catch up from the summer, talk about your family, and ask you these three questions-
  1. What should I continue to do for you to help make you better for our kids?
  2. What should I start doing to help make you better for our kids?
  3. What should I stop doing to help make you better for our kids?
I'm in Mondays-Thursdays in the mornings but I'd be more than happy to stick around in the afternoons or come in on Fridays so that we can connect.  I'm so looking forward to starting our school year on a very positive note and I can't wait to meet with each one of you.

Blogs to consider before the school year starts
Take Advantage of the Blank Slate (from George Couros)
The Education "Bat Signal" (from George Couros)
Who Tells Your Story? (from Ryan Sheehy)
We Are Stories (from Pernille Ripp)
Tips for a New Teacher (from Danny Steele) and don't let the title fool you. We can all learn from these tips.
But Not for the Kid (from Pernille Ripp)
Turn Back-to-School Anxiety into Real Enthusiasm (from Angela Watson)
Serendipity (from Jon Harper)
Sharing the Ups and Downs of Learning (from George Couros)
For the Kids Who Show Up (from Pernille Ripp)
An Open Letter to the Parents Worried My Son is in Their Child's Class (from is a great resource for families and educators.
How Will the Kids Remember You? (from Danny Steele)

Update on Room 120E (in library hallway)
This room is going to be used for 4 purposes.
  1. Storage for NJHS, Student Senate, and Merton Theater
  2. Storage for all kleenex and wet wipes collected as part of supply list
  3. 6th grade refrigerator and microwave
  4. Possibly green screen room for student videos
If you have any questions or concerns about this, don't hesitate to ask me.

You have an assignment!
I have come across a new tool that I would like to use with all of you.  It is painless, I promise, and could actually be a little fun.  It's called flipgrid (Heidi shared it with all of you) and I'd like to have you take a 30 second video of yourself sharing two things- the best part of your summer and what you are most looking forward to this year.  Flipgrid is a great conversation starter (You can learn more about it here.) and if you'd like it for use with our students, there is a discount for 10 class subscriptions.  Here is the link to your flipgrid assignment.  Happy recording!

Will and Grace
I just saw an advertisement about Will and Grace, a television show that ran from 1998 until 2006.  It was one of those television shows that Jen and I watched almost every week.  You just never knew what would happen to make the next episode better, or at least different, than the one before.  It made me think about our school days.  Bear with me a moment while I explain.  What do we do every day to make the next day better than the one before for our students?  For each other?  For ourselves?  How do we build and foster relationships?  How do we have conversations that make each other better for our students?  Let's keep this in mind as the school year progresses.  I'm sure the reboot of Will and Grace will be alright, but I know that our next school year will be awesome!

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

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Live Outside the Box

I've had awesome opportunities all summer to connect with family, friends, and colleagues.  I've also been able to work on projects around the house.  One of these projects was an updated patio.  Our old patio was just that, old.  There were cracks and the cement was a wavy as a lake on a windy summer day.  Frankly, it was a bit dangerous.  Fortunately my wife, Jenifer, knew just what she wanted.  She designed a new shape for our patio and we got a couple of bids.  (Note to all of you who are still reading.  Always get more than one bid, even if you know the people who are giving you bids.  The difference in price was astounding.)  Anyway, we had a stamped concrete patio installed.  That job is way bigger than anything we would have been able to do on our own.

With a new patio comes new patio furniture, right?  Trust me.  New patio = new patio furniture.  Jen found just what she wanted online, ordered it, and had it delivered.  The company who made the furniture, Walker Edison furniture company (@WalkerEdisonCo), makes quality furniture.  It also is the "some assembly required" kind of furniture.  When the furniture was delivered, I went right to work.  I think that it turned out pretty well.  You can even see a bit of our new patio and the landscaping (Jen and I did all of that on our own with the help of our daughter, Lauren.).

So where am I going with this?  It's the saying on the furniture boxes- Live Outside the Box ™.  When you are putting together furniture, there is no living outside the box with the directions.  Mess up one thing and you either start over or create furniture that either doesn't function or doesn't look right.  But once you've put your furniture together, you can enjoy life outside the box.

The same can be true for our students and staff.  We need to provide the parameters for learning and then we need to let them go, let them learn on their own or with others, and have them show off their learning.  I don't know who said it, but these three words mean a lot to me- freedom within fences.  The need for parameters is in those three words, and the fences can have an expansive perimeter.  The directions for the furniture were my fences, but how we organized the furniture was up to us.  In thinking about fences and living outside the box, let's provide voice and choice for our students and staff, and let's learn along side of them.  In that way we can all live outside the box, too.