Thursday, October 29, 2015

Are you settled in?

Here is a picture of our family dog, Phoebe.  She is definitely settled in.  This picture, along with this blog post by Kevin Hodgson, a "field study" of 6th graders, made me stop and think for two reasons.
  1. Have our kids settled in?
  2. Have we settled in?
Settling in isn't all bad.  It means we're comfortable with the routines, expectations, and people with whom we are learning.  But settling in can also be too comfortable.  There's a chance that we become so comfortable that we don't stretch ourselves and those that we learn with to go even further with our learning.  The line between what's expected and what's not expected becomes a bit blurry for both the adults and the children.
So what does all of this mean?  Remind the students of the routines and expectations, continue building on the relationships, and stretch the learning opportunities.  I promise to do the same with all of you and sure hope that you do the same with me.  Let's keep growing this learning environment for all of the learners, young and old.

Monday, November 2nd              NYC marathon recovery!
Tuesday, November 3rd              Practice  4:15-5:15PM
Wednesday, November 4th         A-team  1:30-3:30PM
Thursday, November 5th            Team meetings (6th- 8:55, 5th- 9:45, 7th/8th- 12:22)
                                                       PTO meeting 2:30-4:00PM
                                                       Practice  4:15-5:15PM
Friday, November 6th                 Principals' meeting  7:45-8:45AM
                                                       6th grade Youth Night  7:00-9:00PM

Tweets, blogs, and quotes
"All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning."- Albert Camus, writer and philosopher
"Champions keep playing until they get it right."- Billie Jean King, tennis player
"Mistakes should be examined, learned from, and discarded; not dwelled upon and stored."- Tim Fargo, writer and entrepreneur
"Don't loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club."- Jack London, writer and social activist
"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent."- Calvin Coolidge, 30th U.S. President
(from Pinterest)
"The lesson will always repeat itself, unless you see yourself as the problem--not others."- Shannon Alder, author
"Even a rock moves on."- Anthony Liccione, author and poet
Innovate (a terrific blog post by Scott Rocco, well worth the time- @ScottRRocco)
Shake Up Learning (This is an awesome site with great Google tips.)
"Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them."- David Allen, productivity consultant and author
(from Pinterest)
"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It goes on."- Robert Frost, poet
"The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense."- Thomas Edison, inventor
"Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work."- Chuck Close, painter and photographer

Meemic grant (65 reasons)
Please use this link to enter the 65 reasons grant opportunity from Meemic.  It won't take long and you might even get a giggle out of the video that is shared.  Enjoy and good luck!

Beyond the Bake Sale discussion from 10.28.15
Janine and I met with four parents and we had a wonderful discussion.  Here are the notes from our discussion.  I'd love to discuss this at our grade level meetings next week.  Ask Janine about the discussion if you'd like her point of view.  Overall we're doing some great things to be proud of and, as always, there are areas for improvement.

Sharing the good things we're doing in Merton
After our attendance at What Great Educators Do Differently, we discussed finding one thing to focus on.  Our "one thing" is to share the positive things we are doing here at school.  Here is a simple form (Merton only access) for you to fill out as an individual, content area, or grade level.  I will compile this weekly and put everything into our staff blog.  I'll continue to remind you of this opportunity at grade level meetings and other times that I see you in classrooms and hallways.

Where in the world is Jay?
As many of you know, I'll be out of the district running the New York City marathon on Sunday, November 1st.  If you want to follow along, here is a link to an app for your phone.  Race time is 9:50EST.  Ron will be in charge on both Friday, October 30th and Monday, November 2nd while I am gone.  Here's some runformation about the marathon.  Runfographics for the NYC marathon.  I'll be living this mantra on Sunday.

Have a great weekend!  I'll honestly have you in my thoughts, from time to time, on my travels through NYC.  You are one of the strengths that I rely on when times are tough.  Here is my biggest strength.
And yes, I'll be wearing my Merton singlet on race day.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Keep moving around

Where does instruction occur?
You may or may not know this about me- I don't really do well sitting at my desk.  I don't really do well sitting anywhere for very long.  I enjoy being up and about, interacting with students and staff in as many ways as I can.  I notice that most of you do your best learning when you have a chance to move about as well.  I have seen you move about the classroom, checking in with students, whether they are asking for help or not.  Here is a link to an article about a principal who obviously didn't notice the same things about her staff that I notice about you.  Don't worry!  I won't be taking your teacher desks, or your filing cabinets, out of your classrooms.  Teacher desks have a purpose.  It's just not a place for you to sit all day long.  If I notice that you are almost always moving about the room, you can bet the kids notice, too.  Keep on doing what you're doing and don't hang out behind your desk.  And if you keep moving about the room, it will have a great impact on your daily step count, too.

Monday, October 26                  4:15-5:15  BLT meeting
                                                    7:30  Board meeting
Tuesday, October 27                 1:00-4:00  Science curriculum meeting
                                                    4:15-5:15  Practice
Thursday, October 29                Team meetings (6th- 8:55, 5th- 9:45, 7th/8th- 12:22)
                                                    2:01-3:01  Coaching meeting
                                                    4:15-5:15  Practice
Friday, October 30                     Out all day- New York City Marathon weekend
Sunday, November 1                 New York City Marathon
Monday, November 2                Out all day- New York City Marathon weekend

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
"Minds are like flowers; they only open when the time is right."- Stephen Richards, writer
"Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do.  Don't wish it were easier; wish you were better."- Jim Rohn, entrepreneur, writer, and motivational speaker
Backing Up (from @GenieneD on Twitter, my #ptcamp friend, about the importance of reflection)
"Action is the foundational key to all success."- Anthony Robbins, writer and motivational speaker
"The person who gets the farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare."- Dale Carnegie, writer and motivational speaker
@mertonint on Twitter
#mertonint on Twitter
Merton Intermediate School Facebook page
Family smore for 10.21.15

What Great Educators Do Differently
The picture below reminds me of a number of conversations that I had with Brian, Holly, and Carey last weekend at the What Great Educators Do Differently conference.  The hashtag from the conference can be found here. (#wgedd)  If you have a moment during this long weekend, take a look through the tweets.  You'll notice that Merton was well represented, both in tweets and during presentations.  Don't hesitate to talk with Brian, Holly, Carey or me if you'd like to know more.
(from PixTeller)
Now a little more about the sign above.  Have you ever come across a new idea, something that you think could really be a game changer, but you don't take the chance to give it a try?  Next week is the week to put that all behind you.  Come on.  Try something new.  And once you have, share it with a colleague, or with me, or with everyone.  Imagine the possibilities.  Model taking a risk.  Show your creative side.  And if you're on twitter, how about sharing your idea with the #mertonint hashtag.  (More to come on that from our BLT in the weeks to come.)

Enjoy your long weekend, and I'll see you all on Monday.  Don't forget to wear red!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Conference Reflection- What Great Educators Do Differently

Friday, October 16th and Saturday, October 17th, I got to spend time with some great educators- Shelly Brown, Mike Budisch, Laura Day, Brian Klink, Jackie Kohnert, Melissa Krogman, Carey Niemczyk, and Holly Zimmermann.  They are educators from my district, the Merton Community School District, in Merton, WI.  We traveled together to attend the What Great Educators Do Differently conference, the brain child of Jimmy Casas, Todd Whitaker, and Jeff Zoul.  We found that all in attendance seemed to have one thing in common- we want to do all that we can to help our students be successful.  Here are a few highlights from my vantage point.

  • We must hold one another accountable to do what we agree to do for our students.  Thanks, Todd Whitaker, for that reminder.
  • We must encourage our students to create with technology and not just consume with technology.  Thanks, George Couros, for that reminder.
  • We must always find ways to connect with our families and communities to share our school's story.  Thanks, Joe Sanfelippo, for that reminder.
  • Merton staff spending time with Jimmy Casas and Jeff Zoul, two of the conference organizers, after conference hours was amazing.  As one of our staff said to me, normally the conference speakers and organizers present and then disappear.  That didn't happen with Jimmy and Jeff and our staff noticed that.  Thanks, Jimmy and Jeff, for showing such great interest in our staff.
  • Principal leadership is the same no matter where in the United States you might live.  Thanks, Dwight Carter, for that reminder.
  • There is a continued need to improve upon family and community engagement in our schools.  Thanks, Bethany Hill, for that reminder.
  • Student choice and student voice are two important topics that we need to always keep in mind.  Thanks, Shannon Miller, for that reminder.
  • Being connected with others, sharing with others, and supporting one another help all of us become better educators.  Thanks, Amber Teamann, for that reminder.
  • All of our kids matter, and all of us matter, and we need to acknowledge one another every day for our efforts.  Thanks, Angela Maiers, for that reminder.
  • During our travels to and from the conference, and during the times that weren't scheduled learning time, we all learned together.  We shared our thoughts, got connected on twitter (and not just with other Merton staff but with great educators from around the world), and continued our learning with one another and with those we met in person.  Thanks, Merton staff, for showing the dedication and desire to be the best that you can be.
In the next week, the Merton team will be getting back together to share the "one thing" that will be shared with those staff that were unable to attend.  This assignment is meant as a reflection of the two days we spent together, but it can't end with a reflection.  We must find a way to share that one thing and put it into action.  Then we'll know that our time learning together will take us to the next level.  That's what great educators do differently.  They take what they learned and then apply to be better than they were before they left.

Thanks to the Merton Community School District and the Merton School Board for supporting our learning at What Great Educators Do Differently.  Being in the presence of great educators makes us want to be great educators, too.  This conference was a showcase of greatness and a model of what we hope to become.

Friday, October 16, 2015

What are your circumstances?

As I've been training staff in CPI techniques, one thing keeps popping into my head- precipitating factors.  If you've taken our CPI course, you know what I'm talking about.  If you haven't, here's the definition of precipitating factors- Internal or external factors over which we have no control.  What does this have to do with the above message?  Our students have things that they must deal with every day that we know nothing about.  They come to school every day anyway with a smile upon their face because of you.  They know that you will treat them with respect and love and care and almost always give them a clean slate.  Our students exemplify the statement above each and every day.  With that said, how many of you know the precipitating factors of your students, or your colleagues, or yourself?  Think about that and then figure out, on your own, what you can do to find out these precipitating factors.  Knowing these factors will make every day better for you and your students.

Monday, October 19th                          CPI training 4:15-5:15
Tuesday, October 20th                          CPI training 7:30-8:30
                                                                Practice 4:15-5:15
Wednesday, October 21st                     403b meeting 7:45-8:30
                                                                A-team meeting 1:30-3:30
                                                                Culver's Night 4:00-8:00 (Anybody want to serve with me?)
Thursday, October 22nd                        No school
Friday, October 23rd                             No school

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
"At every step the child should be allowed to meet the real experiences of life; the thorns should never be plucked from his roses."- Ellen Key
"Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself."- Elie Wiesel, writer and activist
Think about this next Monday!
"Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve."- Benjamin Franklin, US Founding Father
"It's hard to beat a person who never gives up."- Babe Ruth, baseball player
"If you look at what you have in life, you'll always have more.  If you look at what you don't have in life, you'll never have enough."- Oprah Winfrey, media personality, businesswoman, and philanthropist
7 must watch teacher Chromebook videos (shared by Matt Pomeroy)
"A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work."- Colin Powell, military leader and statesman

PTO grant requests
Here is the link to staff PTO grants.  Remember, the deadline is October 23rd!  It's easy to complete the grant and well worth your time.

ADHD resource
So here is another reason to be connected on Twitter, Voxer, and in person.  My good friend, Tony Sinanis (@TonySinanis) shared this with his PLN in an email and I just had to share it with you.  I was actually encouraged to share it by Lindsay and Holly after they read it.  It's a smore with some great information.

Digital Citizenship Week
Digital Citizenship Week is October 18thh-24th.  Here are some Digital Citizenship Week resources.  Thanks to @TonySinanis who shared this with his PLN so I thought I'd share it with you, too.

Transition discussion
Thank you for your honest discussions, suggestions, and commendations for one another.  Now let's not forget about this!  I can see this becoming an important part of a staff meeting, as a reminder, after Spring Break.  If you have any other suggestions, don't hesitate to add them to the google doc found here.

I hope that you have a great Friday.  I'll be at What Great Educators Do Differently with Brian K., Carey, and Holly.  I"m sure we'll have some great things to share when we return.  Please send or tweet some pictures (#mertonint) so that I can see you and the kids in action.
If you need something, call or email Ron as he is filling in for me.
Have a great weekend, and stay warm!

Friday, October 9, 2015

I wish my teacher knew...

I wish my teacher knew...
This week one of our teachers shared an activity that she did with her students.  She had the students complete this sentence-
I wish my teacher knew...
She shared these with me and boy, were they powerful!  She also slipped one in for me to read that said, you guessed it, I wish my principal knew...  Her response is just between us.  But I thought I would take it one step further, so here goes.
I wish our staff knew...
how incredibly lucky I am to have a loving wife and daughter who support and encourage me.
how awestruck I am when I see them working with our kids.
how the relationships you make with our kids has a lifelong impact on them.
how proud I am that when I ask you your thoughts or opinions about something you are brutally honest with me.
that I notice the look in your eyes when a kid really gets it.
that I notice the look in the kid's eyes when they have made a great connection with you.
every day I come to school is better than the day before because of you.
And now you know.

Monday, October 12th              Community forum at NSMS 7PM
Tuesday, October 13th              CPI training 7:30-8:30AM
                                                    Practice 4:15-5:15PM (Anyone able to help? Bueller?)
                                                    7/8 conferences 4:30PM
Wednesday, October 14th         CPI training 4:15-5:15PM
Thursday, October 15th            RtI Thursday- staff in Little Theater 8:00-8:40 (see below)
                                                    Sam's Club assembly 8:45-9:15 in the gym (Sit with your homeroom)
                                                    Practice 4:15-5:15PM
Friday, October 16th                 Jay out all day at WGEDD

RtI "Thursday"
Due to being named School of the Year by Sam's Club, we moved our RtI Wednesday to Thursday.  We will meet as a staff from 8:00-8:40 in the Little Theater to discuss transitions from one grade level to the next.  Please bring your thoughts about what your expectations are for your grade level, what has gone well, and what needs to be adjusted.  You all do amazing things with our students to move them on their educational journey and we should celebrate that.
*Important!  We will be handing out staff recognition awards, too.  If you have one from last year, be prepared to pass it along!  Any questions, concerns, or comments, please let me know.

Great things I saw/heard this week
*A teacher working one on one with a student on his writing, and the student realizing that the teacher really cared about what he was writing about and how he was writing.
*Students actively listening and jotting during the read aloud (I saw this in more than one classroom and at more than one grade level.).
*A teacher walking about the room checking understanding of a new math concept (Again, I saw this in more than one classroom and at more than one grade level.).
*Jon sharing the first two notes of 5th grade band (It's in the smore and also here.).
*Students preparing songs for Veterans' Day in choir.
*The excitement I have seen and heard from staff regarding Veterans' Day.
*Honest and open conversations about tough topics during our grade level meetings.
*Parents in our Beyond the Bake Sale book discussion last night could not say enough about the great things you are doing with and for their kids.  Ask Janine for more specifics.  By the way, if you are still interested in joining the book chat, I have some extra copies of the book.

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
"He who rejects change is the architect of decay."- Harold Wilson, former UK prime minister
"Be not the slave of your own past."- Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer
Let's Be Four Again (blog from Jon Harper @Jonharper70bd)
"The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will."- Vince Lombardi, football coach
On Listening, or in other words, "care for" or "care about" (from via @Joe_Mazza)
"The only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven't found it yet, keep looking.  Don't settle."- Steve Jobs, entrepreneur
 (from PixTeller)
Tech Tip: Be a connected educator (from ASCD SmartBlog)
"There can be no courage unless you're scared."- fighter pilot and business leader
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."- Vicki Corona, writer
(from PixTeller- I know that success is spelled incorrectly, but I like the saying!)
"The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do."- Walter Bagehot, journalist
"If you don't like something, change it.  If you can't change it, change your attitude."- Maya Angelou, writer and entertainer
"When your desires are strong enough, you will appear to possess superhuman powers to achieve."- Napoleon Hill, writer
"The thing that we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down."- Mary Pickford, Canadian American actress
(from @FitnessGandhi)

Merton Staff Blog
You all know the importance of reflection on our practice as an educator and as a person.  Many of you in the past have shared your thoughts on our staff blog.  It can feel risky to share your ideas with others, but this is truly a safe place to do so.  Heidi took the risk this week and posted her thoughts on our staff blog.  Here is the link entitled "Kids Are Listening".  If you aren't a contributor on our staff blog and would like to be, just let me know and I'll add you.

Have a great weekend!  I just found out Thursday that I'm going to go to the Packers game on Sunday.  Look for me in the crowd.  I'll be wearing a Green Bay Packers hat.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Anything can happen

I saw this quote from Shel Silverstein and just had to include it this week.  Imagine if we all professed the final two lines to all the children we see every day.  "Then listen close to me.  Anything can happen, child, anything can be."  We need to provide the supports for children to reach their goals.  We need to pick them up when they're feeling down or dejected.  Years ago I would have never thought that I would be a principal of a terrific school with an awesome staff and tremendous students.  But then one person, Dr. Baxter, the human resources director in a neighboring district, saw some leadership abilities in me and supported me and just always found the time to talk.  And now I'm here, in Merton, going to school every day and enjoying every minute of it, the ups and the downs.  Just because of the support and mentorship of one person, Dr. Baxter.  So I challenge you to connect with that one student who will see you as their mentor, their "one person".  I'm positive that it will amaze you!

Tuesday, October 6th        CPI training 7:30-8:30AM
                                            Practice 4:15-5:15PM
Wednesday, October 7th   A-team 1:30-3:30PM
                                            CPI training 4:15-5:15PM
Thursday, October 8th      Practice 4:15-5:15PM
Saturday, October 10th     EdCamp Lake Country (Pewaukee High School)

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
"You can't keep blaming yourself.  Just blame yourself once, and move on."- Homer Simpson (voiced by Dan Castellaneta) on The Simpsons
What New Teachers Need to Know About PD but is really for ALL teachers (blog from Brad Currie @bradmcurrie)
"Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go."- William Feather, publisher
"The most essential factor is persistence--the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by the discouragement that must inevitably come."- James Whitcomb Riley, writer
"People that pay for things never complain.  It's the guy you give something to that you can't please."- Will Rogers, humorist and entertainer
Classroom management strategies (from
"Better to trust the man who is frequently in error than the one who is never in doubt."- Eric Sevareid, journalist
#educoach blogging challenge (This challenge is for more than our coaches.  C'mon.  Take a chance!)
Newsela (from all about leveled non-fiction reading)
"Knowledge is power.  Power to do evil...or power to do good.  Power itself is not evil.  So knowledge itself is not evil."- Veronica Roth, novelist
If you are interested in field testing educational products, here is a link to a website that allows you to do that for free!
"It is said of money that it is more easily made than kept, and this is true of many things, such as friendship."- Samuel Butler, writer
"The most courageous act is still to think for yourself.  Aloud."- Coco Chanel, fashion designer

(created by Promila from PixTeller)
At least one of you knows that this is a take on one of my favorite lines- Keep on keeping on.  I have watched all of you this first month of the school year take on new challenges with a passion and drive that keeps me going.  Please know that I notice and recognize all that you do for our students, one another, and me.  Thank you!

Here's to a great weekend with a Badger victory over the Hawkeyes, a Packers victory over the 49ers, and a wonderful time spent with family and friends.