Friday, July 31, 2015

What will August bring?

As I put my final touches on this week's blog, I realize that I have spent too little time with my family during the summer months.  It always seems that I have a reason for doing work (whatever that means) when I know that I could put away my phone or Chromebook or iPad when those I love are awake.  I just haven't done that enough.  So, here's my plan starting this weekend.  When it's family time, I will be disconnected from my electronics.  I know that I'll need reminders, probably every 10 minutes to start, but now is the time to start a new habit.  Some research says it takes days to form a habit.  Others say it takes weeks.  Regardless of the time frame, I can't create a habit until it's started.  So I challenge all of you to either create or further develop your "family habit".  They'll thank you and you'll thank yourself.

Monday, August 3rd- PTO meeting at 8:45
Tuesday, August 4th- CPI training 9:00-3:00
Wednesday, August 5th- New staff day!
Thursday, August 6th- CPI training 9:00-3:00 (cancelled)

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
"You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you."- Walt Disney, cartoonist, film producer, and business magnate
"Self-trust is the first secret of success."- Ralph Waldo Emerson, essayist, lecturer, and poet
"There is no passion to be found playing small -- in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."- Nelson Mandela, political activist and president of South Africa
"In my experience, there is only one motivation, and that is desire.  No reasons or principles contain it or stand against it."- Jane Smiley, novelist
Danny MacAskill's imaginate (A great video of creativity within a passion- from Swing by Swing)
"I've always tried to go a step past wherever people expected me to end up."- Beverly Sills, opera singer
I'm Seventeen (TedTalk by 17 year old Kate Simonds shared by @gcouros)
"I owe my success to having listened respectfully and rather bashfully to the very best advice...and then going away and doing the exact opposite."- G.K. Chesterton, writer
Key and Peele comedy sketch of TeachingCenter (funny, sad, and true sketch about teacher compensation)
"Everyone sits in the prison of his own ideas; he must burst it open."- Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist
Musings on Leadership, Change, and #EdTech (blog by Eric Sheninger- @E_Sheninger)
"Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing."- Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. president

Goals and passions
As I shared this poster quote, it reminded me of an email I got from Jen back in January.  Although we tell our students, and each other, to follow their passions, Mike Rowe, the host of Dirty Jobs, responded to a fan's question about following their passion.  Please check out this link for the entire response.  If you don't have time to read the entire response, at least read his final paragraph.
"That's why I would never advise anyone to 'follow their passion' until I understand who they are, what they want, and why they want it.  Even then, I'd be cautious.  Passion is too important to be without, but too fickle to be guided by.  Which is why I'm more inclinded to say, 'Don't Follow Your Passion, But Always Bring it With You."
I share this with you as we are only a month away from returning to school.  We'll have hundreds of students joining us, ready to share and pursue their passions and goals.  In my opinion, we don't spend enough time finding out what our students are passionate about.  For crying out loud, sometimes we don't even know our own passions.  Take the time to learn about the passions of those you come into contact with so that you can know them better.  Don't squash their passions, or your own passions, but, as Mike Rowe said, bring your passions with you.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 24, 2015

The final days of July

In a few short days, July will be over and my thoughts will truly return to school and the preparations for all of our students and staff for the upcoming school year.  To be honest, I have been thinking about the 2015-2016 school year since before you and the students all left.  I am thinking about our incoming 5th graders and wanting to make sure that their first experience in the Intermediate School is a good one.  I am thinking about our incoming 6th graders and their transition to "living" out of a locker.  I am thinking about our incoming 7th graders and their move upstairs.  And I am thinking about our incoming 8th graders and how we can all help them become positive leaders in our school.  I am excited for the challenges of the upcoming year and believe that our attitude toward our students, and each other, will have a profound impact on our success this year.  Start thinking positively about the students we will learn with this year, realize they have grown over the three months of summer, and do your best to give them a fresh slate.  They will appreciate it and I'm sure that they will surprise you.

Running streak interview
A couple of weeks ago, Doug Russell from 620WTMJ radio stopped in to interview me about my running streak.  If you are interested, here is a link to the interview that aired on Monday.

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
Twitter resources (from @Dwight_Carter)
Look Up- disconnect (A video about making sure to disconnect once in a while from @Dwight_Carter)
"If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine -- it is lethal."- Paulo Coelho, novelist
"If you set your goals ridiculously high and it's a failure, you will fail above everyone else's success."- James Cameron, filmmaker
"Desire is the key to motivation, but it's determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal -- a commitment to excellence -- that will enable you to attain the success you seek."- Mario Andretti, race car driver
"Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas."- Marie Curie, physicist and chemist
"Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure."- Confucius, philosopher and teacher
7 benefits of digital student portfolios (from Tabitha Tatum, part of a book discussion on Digital Student Portfolios)
"An imitation may be quite successful in its own way, but imitation can never be Success.  Success is a first-hand creation."- Henry Ford, industrialist
"If you want to achieve excellence, you can get there today.  As of this second, quit doing less-than-excellent work."- Thomas Watson, corporate leader
7 Lessons for Teachers from Dumbledore (from Edutopia)
"However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at."- Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist
Tweets from #mertonint
Tweets from @mertonint

                                          (Created by Angela Gordon)             (found on
I wonder if you noticed the similarity of these two "posters"?  They make me think about what's important in my life every day.  I am in the midst of trying to find balance in my life, a never ending struggle for all of us.  Like everyone, I need time for my family, time for my friends, time for school, and time for me.  I have a goal to be unplugged for some part of every day.  Some days I do well and some days I don't do so well.  I think the day and the time of day has a big impact on the balance.  As July comes to an end, I need to continue to take chances to become a better husband, father, friend, and colleague.  That may sound a bit weird, but maintaining the status quo day after day does nothing to make us better.  We need to take a chance or two as the first poster mentions.  But I have to also keep the moment in mind.  Do I tell Jen and Lauren, "Just let me finish this one thing."  If I do, the moment is gone, never to return, and who knows how great that moment could have been if I was just there with them?  So as July days and nights come to an end, I encourage you all to live in the moment with your family.  School will start up again before you know it and then our time becomes more regimented.  Take the time with our remaining days of summer to disconnect when you can and reconnect whenever possible.  See you all soon!

Friday, July 17, 2015

July learning and sharing

I have been thinking and learning a lot this summer due to some awesome opportunities that honestly may only come around once in an educator's lifetime.  It all started with #summerspark and culminated this week with #edcampldr.  The National Family and Community Engagement Conference was the meat to the sandwich.  I have spoken a bit about each of these and find that right now that's all that I can do.  I am still processing the awesome experiences and how lucky I was to attend each of them.  At some point in time I'll be writing a blogpost about them but as of now I cannot put my thoughts down "on paper", or in blogger, but the time will come pretty soon, I'm sure.  Until then, feel free to stop in and chat.  I'm at school most days in the morning except for when I have to take Lauren to Driver's Education classes.  Man, she is growing up so fast!

Tweets, blogs, and quotes
Helping struggling leaders (from ShakeUpLearning)
"As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation-- either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force.  I decided to follow the latter course."- Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights activist
Let's stop faking it (Tweet from me which includes a link to @Joe_Mazza's blog about depression in education)
"Don't bring negative to my door."- Maya Angelou, poet, author and performer
"Those who love you are not fooled by the mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself.  They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused."- Alan Cohen, author
"Always go with your passions.  Never ask yourself if it's realistic or not."- Deepak Chopra, author and public speaker
"Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it.  The time will pass anyway."- Earl Nightingale, radio personality and motivational speaker
Leading through choice (from @ajjuliani- A great post about connecting on social media and how it leads to greater connections in person.)

Meemic grants
Don't forget about the Meemic grants for educators.  Here is a link to access the short application process.  If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me.  The deadline for applications is September 30th.

Missouri GAFE Summit
Although I didn't attend this event, I did look through many of the presentations and thought I would share the link with all of you.  There is a lot here for "beginners" up to "advanced" and may appear to be quite overwhelming, but tuck it away some where for later use when you're looking for some advice.

So I was on twitter the other day (It's shocking, right?) and I came across this calendar that will soon be able to sync with Google Classroom.  Tina and I are looking for a couple of staff to test this out.  After you have a chance to look it over, please let Tina and I know if you are interested.  Here's the link to check it out.  Thanks for taking a look.

Next week I will be sending out an email dedicated solely to our schedule for next year.  I will be explaining the reasons behind the schedule being organized the way that it is.  I took many of your suggestions into account but was unable to meet all of your requests.  I would be more than willing to meet with you, either individually or as teams, any day next week.  Thanks for your patience.

Face to face
"Make time to walk around the office to talk to people face to face.  Your team needs to hear from you personally."
Jen sent this quote to me three and a half years ago.  I have kept it in my inbox all along, referring to it as a reminder to get out of my office and into classrooms.  The three learning experiences that I mentioned to start the blog have made this quote even more powerful.  During each experience, I met people that heretofore I had only spoken to via Google Hangout, Voxer, or Twitter.  The power of the face to face conversations and connections deepens the relationships and the sharing to an entirely different level.  I know that I preach about social media and the connections I have made through those mediums, but deeper relationships happen face to face.  They can start on social media and continue on social media, but the power of face to face conversations can never be underestimated.  As the summer continues along, I'd love for each of you to find 30 minutes to stop in and talk about anything- your family, last year, next year, the summer.  Just shoot me an email or text or vox or tweet and let's set up a time to chat.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Mid-July thoughts

I'm checking back in with all of you as the summer continues to chug along.  Here are a few highlights.

  • I have a new look to my office and would love for you to stop in and check it out.  I can't share pictures yet as Jen and Lauren are still helping me with decorating and decluttering.
  • Ron and I have met to discuss the schedule for the upcoming year with all of the factors that must be considered.  We will be finalizing that in the very near future.
  • At this point, hiring staff is going well.  Ron and I will update you all further once final hirings have been approved by the school board on July 20th.  I am excited about the new staff who will be joining us this year and I have a plan for how we will get to know them when we first meet as a staff in August.
  • I am in the midst of reading four books at the same time.  This is a first for me.  I'm reading "Digital Student Portfolios", "Beyond the Bake Sale" (again), "It's Not Complicated" (helping struggling readers), and "Influencers".  Each of them is taking place on Voxer, Twitter, and a new social medium called Plushforums.  Jen sent me this funny photo recently that reminds me of my reading.  So, as the sign in front of school says, "What books are you reading?"
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Tweets, quotes, and blogs
6 tips for social media newbies (MiddleWeb SmartBrief)
"You have enemies?  Good.  That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life."- Winston Churchill, U.K. Prime Minister
"We are each given a block of marble when we begin a lifetime, and the tools to shape it into sculpture.  We can drag it behind us untouched, we can pound it to gravel, we can shape it into glory."- Richard Bach, writer
"We do not remember days, we remember moments."- Cesare Pavese, poet
5 elements of the connected classroom (SmartBrief on EdTech)
Strengthening Parent Partnerships (MiddleWeb SmartBrief)
"The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be."- Marcel Pagnol, novelist, playwright and filmmaker
"The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved; it is a reality to be experienced."- J.J. van der Leeuw, philosopher and writer

As I look forward to next school year, there are a few seeds I'd like to plant in each of you.

  • How can we better use data during our team meetings to both share our successes and share our struggles?
  • How can we share our passions with each other and our students?
  • How can we get to know our new staff and how can our new staff get to know us?
  • Who would like to replace Tracey on the Building Leadership Team (BLT) and are the current BLT members still interested in being on the team?
  • How can we improve upon our hallway supervision?
  • Who is interested in reading "Beyond the Bake Sale" with some of our families as well as a school from Missouri and a school from Connecticut? (We will be starting some time in October.)
  • What can be my new "Happy" for student assemblies?
That's all for now.  I'll be at #edcampldr in Chicago on Monday if you'd like to follow the hashtag on Twitter.  I'll be back in the office Tuesday through Thursday if you'd like to stop in.  Just email me to make sure that I'm there.
Have a great next two weeks.  I'll be checking in again at the end of July with a scheduling update before that.