Friday, September 25, 2015

RtI (Response to Instruction)

We are all familiar with RtI (Response to Intervention), but how many of us stop to think about the other RtI, Response to Instruction?  After having an opportunity to visit each of your classrooms at least twice this week, I can see the quality instruction that occurs in all classrooms.  But just because we taught it doesn't mean they learned it.  How do you know if a child has learned what you taught?  What do you do if you determine they haven't learned it?  With these questions in mind, I'd like to have a conversation about this at our grade level meetings next week.  We will develop a list to be shared in next week's staff nuts and bolts.  Maybe one of you will even be a "guest blogger" to explain your favorite practice or procedure to the entire group.  As Brian Fleischman would say, "We are our best resource."  Let's use the time that we have together in team meetings to help everyone become a better educator.

Monday, September 28th       Packer Day! Wear your Green and Gold!
                                                  MAPs makeups starting at 9:00 in the STEM lab (Students should                                                         bring their own device for testing.)
                                                  School board meeting 7:30PM
Tuesday, September 29th      CPI training 7:30-8:30AM
                                                  Shoo the Flu
                                                  Taste it Tuesday! (There'll be some great stuff in the lounge to try.)  
                                                  Practice 4:15-5:15PM
Wednesday, September 30th Workout Wednesday (Wear your workout clothes to school!)
                                                  CPI training 4:15-5:15PM
Thursday, October 1st           Wellness meeting 8AM
                                                  PTO meeting 2:30PM (Primary School)
                                                  Practice 4:15-5:15PM

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
"The key to life is accepting challenges.  Once someone stops doing this, he's dead."- Bette Davis, actress
"People who fail to regard the truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in matters that are great."- Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist
(from Ben Gilpin @benjamingilpin)
They Look for Me (from @Jonharper70bd)
"Patience is the best remedy for every trouble."- Plautus, playwright
"It is more difficult to stay on top than to get there."- Mia Hamm, professional soccer player
"Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor."- Truman Capote, American writer
In honor of Yogi Berra's passing- "I really didn't say everything I said."
"Empty pockets never held anyone back.  Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that."- Norman Vincent Peale, minister and author
"To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong."- Joseph Chilton Pearce, writer
BLT notes from 9.21.15 (link is for Merton staff only)
Family smore for 9.25.15
@mertonint on Twitter
#mertonint on Twitter
Merton Intermediate Facebook page

Great things I saw this week:
*6th grade team working together to develop a plan to curb excessive missing homework!
*Becky and Carey chaperoning the 7th and 8th grade dance with me with no incidents and a profit for the Student Senate!
*Jim Hannon working extra hard all last week to make sure we were prepared for all three Family Information Nights and the 7th and 8th grade dance!
*Mitchell B. (6th grader) helping me out with the lunch line on Monday.  He might just take my spot!
*Your efforts at the Family Information Nights last week still resonates with me!
*Mr. Wagner playing from his vinyl collection (I got to hear "Billie Jean") to provide a brain recharge in Science!
*Procedures and expectations in LA providing a wonderful environment in all grade levels!

Thursday grade level meetings
What an awesome experience I had at our grade level meetings.  You brought student work to share and learned some awesome ideas from one another while sharing.  We will continue having this as a part of our weekly meetings.  The #onenewthing was great for celebrating some of the risks you are taking in your classroom all the while receiving support from your teammates.  We will continue having this as part of our weekly meetings, too.  What if you asked your students to share their favorite/best work sample or #onenewthing with classmates?  Wouldn't that be a great way to build a cohesive classroom?  If you give it a try, I'd love to come in and visit and take part, too.

Have a terrific weekend.  Arrowhead homecoming.  Badgers vs. Hawaii.  Beautiful weather.  Enjoy your time with family and friends.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Our first 5 day week...with students

Interesting title, wouldn't you say?  We are ending our first full week with the students but I know all of you too well.  This isn't your first 5 day week of the school year.  I would venture to say that you have had 7 day weeks since some time in August.  That's just who you are as an educator in Merton.  I appreciate it, but more importantly, the students appreciate it.  They might not thank you with words, but their actions this first three weeks say it.  Students are on task, engaged in their learning, and putting forth an effort that I haven't seen in a long time.  Keep the students engaged and provide them some choice and great things will happen.  Do me a favor this next week.  Share the great things you are doing with your colleagues.  Share them with me.  Let the school community know the great things you are doing.  If you do that, the 'thank yous' will come pouring in.  At last week's Principals' Chat, two people thanked the entire district in front of the 40 or so in attendance.  One was a mother new to Merton.  The other was a grandmother, the guardian of her grandson, and mother of Merton graduates.  They praised the work that you do each and every day with their children.  The kids might not thank you with words, but I can do that for them.  THANK YOU!

Friday, September 18                   7/8 dance 7:00-9:00
Saturday, September 19              Golf outing (2:30) and Barn Bash (6:00) at Ironwood GC
Monday, September 21                BLT meeting 4:15-5:15 (STEM lab)
Tuesday, September 22                CPI training 7:30-8:30 (IS library)
                                                        Practice 4:15-5:15 (IS library)
Wednesday, September 23           A-team meeting 1:30-3:30 (Primary School)
                                                        CPI training 4:15-5:15 (IS library)
Thursday, September 24              School Board member Phil Spindler is joining us for lunch
                                                        Practice 4:15-5:15 (IS library)
***At team meetings next week, please bring examples of student work that you are proud of in order to share with the teams.  We also need to share #OneNewThing with our teams.  Let's make our meetings "extra" collaborative and fun this week.

A note from Phil Spindler
We are a few weeks into the school year now and have hopefully started to settle in (at least that's what I hear from Mr Heinze).  I want to come in during your lunch break to make myself available for conversation (sorry about commandeering the brief respite you have during the day).  There are a few new faces that I have yet to meet and would love the opportunity to introduce myself and get caught up with any new concerns or ideas that are floating around.  I will be at the Intermediate school Thursday, September 24th so please come by to chat or just say hi.
Phil Spindler
School Board Member

Practice starts next week
We will be starting Practice after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning September 22nd.  Practice runs from 4:15-5:15 in the Library.  If you are able to help out, you will be compensated $20 per session.  Just let me know if you are available.  Thanks!

Beyond the Bake Sale book discussion
Starting in October, I'm going to be hosting a book discussion about Beyond the Bake Sale.  You can find a review here.  But don't buy the book!  I'll be buying one for you.  The entire idea behind the book is to develop partnerships with our families and community to make Merton an even better school.  We'll have face to face discussions and we're even going to be having a discussion with schools from Connecticut and Missouri thanks to my PLN.  Even if you don't read the book, you can join us for the discussion with the two schools.

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
"If you are successful, it is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a life or an idea that started you in the right direction.  Remember also that you are indebted to life until you help some less fortunate person, just as you were helped."- Melinda Gates, philanthropist
Strategies for Reaching Apathetic Students (from edutopia)

"Fortune sides with him who dares."- Virgil, poet
"We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."- Will Durant, historian and philosopher
"Listening is being able to be changed by the other person."- Alan Alda, actor and director
"The greatest mistake we make is living in constant fear that we will make one."- John Maxwell, author and speaker
"If you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen."- Conan O'Brien, entertainer
#mertonint on Twitter
@mertonint on Twitter

Thanks, Jolie!
I don't normally point out specific staff, but I felt inclined to this week.  On Wednesday morning, Jolie stopped by my office looking for me before school.  I was meeting with a family and once I was done, I went to Jolie's room to see what she needed.  What happened next is the interesting part.  It wasn't what Jolie needed, it was what I needed.  She and I had a great conversation about the start of the school year and with it came the "change" that she says some of you have noticed in me.  Let's just say, if Jolie hadn't mentioned anything I wouldn't have had the chance to reflect on my behavior and attitude, and I would have never known how I appeared to some of you.  I have a number of things on my mind, not unlike each of you, and sometimes it's the timing of a discussion or a meeting that have an impact on my behavior and attitude.  I want only what is best for all of you and for our students.  That is a fact.  In the coming days and weeks, I hope to show all of you that I am dedicated to you as a staff and that I have your best interest in mind.  Above all of that, I have the best interest of our students in mind.  I am so glad to be a part of this Merton family.  And thanks again, Jolie.

Have a terrific weekend.  Let's renew and refresh for next week!

Friday, September 11, 2015

What could be better?

Along the travels of my educational career, I have had many conversations with those who have chosen a different occupation or vocation or job.  Invariably they say things like "I could never do that" or "It must be a drag to work with middle school kids" or "You are so lucky to have off all summer".  And those are the nice things they say.  I honestly have to say that there is nothing better than being an educator.  Let me provide some reasons and substance behind my statement.
Each of these words describe what we all do each and every day.  Seriously, what could be better?

If you have a chance, check out the hashtag #principalsinaction throughout the day.  My friend, Adam Welcome (@awelcome) included this in his blogpost "On the Carpet" and I jumped at the chance to participate.  Please let me know if there is something I can be a part of in your class today so I can tweet it out to the world.

Monday, September 14        School Board Annual Meeting 7:30PM in the Little Theater
Tuesday, September 15       6th grade Family Information Night at 5:30 int the Library
Wednesday, September 16  5th grade Family Information Night at 5:00 in the Little Theater
                                               Culvers' Night from 4:00-8:00
Thursday, September 17      7th and 8th grade Family Information Night at 6:00 in the Little Theater
Friday, September 18           7th and 8th grade dance 7:00-9:00 (Chaperones needed!)
Saturday, September 19      Golf outing and Barn Bash at Ironwood (Would love to see you there!)

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
"There are no traffic jams along the extra mile."- Roger Staubach, football player
"Conquering any difficulty always gives one a secret joy, for it means pushing back a boundary-line and adding to one's liberty."- Henri Frederic Amiel, poet and critic
Google hashtag dictionary (from ShakeUpLearning)
"The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them.  They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you don not care.  Either case is a failure of leadership."- Colin Powell, military leader and statesman
"Individual commitment to a group effort- that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work."- Vince Lombardi
Every Single Kid (from @venspired)
"Perseverance, secret of all triumphs."- Victor Hugo, writer
"If you would hit the mark, you must aim a little above it; every arrow that flies feels the attraction of the earth."- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, poet and educator
"To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart."- Thomas Wilson, business leader
"A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success."- Elbert Hubbard, writer and publisher

Don't miss a chance to say thank you
I remember all that Mrs. Sonia Evans did for me as an educator.  She was my cooperating teacher for my substitute teaching placement in Waukesha.  She pushed me, gave me great feedback, and always said what I needed to hear even when I didn't want to hear it.  She passed away this week and it caught me by surprise.  The last time I saw her I remember thanking her for her guidance and giving her a hug.  She remembered me even after over 28 years.  As I look back on my career as an educator, I realize that I often forget to thank those who have impacted me.  Over the next couple of weeks, please find time to reach out and thank those who have guided and inspired you as an educator.  It will make them feel awesome, and you never know if it will be the last time you have a chance to thank them.  Thank you, Mrs. Evans!

Have a great weekend.  Rest up.  Next week is a five day week!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Best week of the year!

This was the first week of the school year.  It was also the best week of the school year.  You all know that my mantra is "best day ever" or "best year ever".  It is our challenge, every day, to give our best to the students and one another.  That's a daunting task.  Imagine that each day is better than the day before.  Although that is a great goal, let's be real.  It probably isn't going to happen.  There is one part of your day, however, that I know you can say was better than the day before.  Let's build off of that.  Celebrate that part of your day and then choose another part of the next day that will be better than yesterday.  You can do it and so can I.  So, this week was the best week of the school year.  But I must say, I'm sure we can make next week the best week of the year, too.

Monday, September 7th                  No School- Labor Day
Wednesday, September 9th             First RtI Wednesday- 8:00 meeting/ 9:15 to classes
                                                          (adjusted schedule is here)
Thursday, September 10th               Principals' Chat from 3:00-3:50

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
"I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies, for the hardest victory is over self."- Aristotle, philosopher
"It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else."- Erma Bombeck,  humorist
Mark Flynn's latest blog from the South Sudan (This is the epitome of a servant leader!)
Zondle, a web tool to add game-based learning to teaching (from Flipboard)
12 Conversation Starters on What Parents Want Teachers to Know (from @Joe_Mazza via edutopia)
"You can't climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets."- Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor and politician
Marigolds (from Mary Iwanski via Katie Francoeur on Facebook)
"Let me tell you the secret that has led to my goal: My strength lies solely in my tenacity."- Louis Pasteur, chemist and microbiologist
Embrace the Shake (10 minute TEDtalk by Phil Hansen that I'll be sharing with the students next week.  No limits and be creative are the themes.)
"Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do."- Nelson Mandela, political activist and former president of South Africa
"Develop success from failures.  Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success."- Dale Carnegie, writer and motivational speaker

Positive family contact
I know that you remember the challenge that I gave you to start the school year- Make a positive family contact every day.  You can't believe what it does for the student, the family, and yourself.  Carve out 5 minutes a day and you won't regret it.  Here is a part of an email I received last night after one of you sent an email to a mother.
Thank you so much for sharing that with us. "Johnny" has a very soft spot for kids with special needs. This is a proud mom moment here.

Can you please forward your message to Mr. Posick? I think he'd be very proud of "Johnny". 

Thank you again. 
"Johnny's mom"

Assembly today
At the end of the day today, we'll be practicing our assembly procedures but, more importantly, we'll be celebrating the start of the school year and a good first week of school.  Please sit with your homeroom class and if you don't have a homeroom class, adopt one!  Everyone should be sitting with our students.  I'll be introducing new students and all staff.  It will be a fun way to end the week.

Have a great long weekend.  Relax, sleep in, hang out with family and friends, and just enjoy yourself.  Anything you need to do will be at school when you get back on Tuesday.