Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pure imagination

One of my favorite movies of all time is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  And wouldn't you know it.  Last night, #tlap (Teach Like a Pirate) chat used this movie in honor of the passing of Gene Wilder (Here's the link from participate.com).  There are many favorite scenes- "bad egg" Veruca and fuzzy lifting drinks come to mind- but my favorite by far is when Gene Wilder sings "Pure Imagination".

(from "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory", 1971)

There are four main points that capture my attention in the movie that relate to school so I thought that I'd share them with you.

1,  Provide opportunities
We need to provide opportunities for students to learn about things they are interested in.  When Willy Wonka allows the children to run around and taste the different edible parts of his factory, did you notice that none of them, not even their parents, go to check out the same thing?  We need to give students choice and the opportunity to learn about things that interest them.  As the lyrics say, "Want to change the world?  There's nothing to it."  Don't be that teacher who stifles a learning experience.  Foster it!
(from salemsox.mlblogs.com)

2.  Delayed gratification
Delayed gratification is something that we all need to think about.  Each of the children, except for Charlie Bucket, had to have whatever they wanted now.  None of them had a struggle along the way as the family member with them on the factory tour just couldn't say know.  And they all wanted something- Augustus Gloop had to have chocolate, Violet Beauregarde had to have gum, Veruca Salt had to have a golden goose, and Mike Teavee had to be the first broadcast on TV.  Only Charlie was happy with the tour, and maybe some fizzy lifting drinks because Grandpa Joe urged him on.  All of us learn by struggling.
(from www.macrumors.com)

3.  Recognize those who do the right thing
Throughout the entire movie, Charlie is always concerned about the other people in his life.  He provides for his family, follows the rules in the factory (Except for fizzy lifting drinks.  But who doesn't like fizzy lifting drinks?), and even returns the Everlasting Gobstopper to Willy Wonka in one of the final scenes.  Grandpa Joe even wants to give the Gobstopper to Slugworth to make some money.  But Charlie does the right thing, returns the Gobstopper, and the factory is his.
(from allthingsfadra.com)

4.  Take a chance
In the final scene, Charlie has the opportunity to press the only button in the Wonkevator that Willy hasn't yet tried.  It is quite a risk as even Willy doesn't know what will happen.  The button is pushed and the anticipation grows until finally the Wonkevator breaks through the ceiling.  The scene ends with this wonderful monologue.  "But Charlie.  Don't forget what happened to the man who finally got everything he wanted.  He lived happily ever after."

(from "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory", 1971)

Now don't think that I'm suggesting that we give out candy or equate a school with a factory.  But I really think that we can make school more like the movie by providing opportunities, delaying gratification by letting students struggle, recognizing when students and staff do the right thing, and taking chances.  I encourage you as you return to school this year, and every day thereafter, to help make school like Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.  The kids will have fun, will thank you, and will learn more than you can imagine.

Be the one!

Friday, August 26, 2016

It's almost time

It's Friday afternoon, the week before school, and I'm so excited and barely stand it.  I'm at the stage of little sleep and when I do sleep it isn't deep sleep.  I try to turn my mind off, but it just keeps right on going.  I eat but I'm not hungry.  It's seriously like the week leading up to a marathon.  We've done all that we can do to prepare to start off on the right foot.  Now let's get the kids here and show them how excited we are for them to be here and to learn with them.

The paragraph above was inspired by Pernille Ripp's latest blog- No Matter.  Maybe it will inspire you, too.  This picture from my good friend Tom Whitford also caught my attention.
Some of you have already started building relationships at Open House, as the kids walked the building this week, and during F&P testing.  Let's start out right away on Thursday with all of the kids, make them feel special, and maybe you'll be their "one".
(By the way, if I forgot to send out the presentation from our staff meeting on Tuesday, here it is.  If you need any more blue #1 fingers, they're in my office.)

Monday, August 29, 2016

  • IA interviews 8:00-10:30
  • A-team meeting  10:30-12:30
  • Brittany (new Algebra teacher) joins Merton  1:30
  • School board meeting  7:30
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
  • F&P testing all day
Thursday, September 1, 2016
  • The students return!  Everyone should be outside greeting them with a smile and a fist bump/ hug/ high five/ hand shake!
Monday, September 5, 2016
  • No School- Labor Day
No more reading.  Just thoughts to share with our kids when you see them next week.

Have a great weekend.  If you'd like a brat for lunch on Saturday, I'll be at Piggly Wiggly for the Arrowhead Hawkettes Dance Team fundraiser.  I'd love to see you there.
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Did you see what I did there?  The title's of my last three blogs, including this one, are- "On your marks...", "Get set...", and "Go!"  There are two reasons.  One is the start of the school year and the other is because of the Olympics, in particular track races.  The start of our school year is much like an Olympic track race, but with a twist.  Olympic track athletes prepare for years for one opportunity to be the best in the world for one race.  You prepare for a lifetime for the kids who look up to you each and every day to lead them in learning.  I am so excited for the school year to get underway, to see the kids come in ready to learn, and to continue learning along with them and with you.  I am so ready to get this year started!

Calendar (agenda from Ron with more specifics)
Wednesday, August 17th       Jay's at PLC conference in Milwaukee/ You have time to do what you need in your classrooms or with your teams
Thursday, August 18th          Jay's at PLC conference in Milwaukee
Friday, August 19th               Jay's at PLC conference in Milwaukee
Monday, August 22nd           Social Studies curriculum work
Tuesday, August 23rd            7:30-8:00      Breakfast in Primary School
                                                8:00-10:00    District kickoff
                                                11:00-11:30  Intermediate Staff meeting (Little Theater)
                                                *agenda of meeting will be sent out next week
                                                Lunch on your own/ Grade level meetings with me
Wednesday, August 24th       8:00-12:00    5th grade mentoring program
                                                (Thanks Heather and Megan!)
                                                11:00-4:00    Prepare your rooms for Open House
                                                4:00              Staff pictures/ PTO provides subs
                                                4:40-7:00      Open House
Thursday, August 25th          F&P testing or collaborative work time
Wednesday, August 31st       F&P testing or collaborative work time
Thursday, September 1st      First day of school!

I believe that I had shared this with all of you at some point last year, but I thought I would share it again here.  Just click on the title above for the the final schedule.
(from Pinterest)

Team meetings
As you look at the calendar above, please get together with your team to find a time to meet with me either on Tuesday, August 23rd or Wednesday, August 24th.  I am trying a new extension called Calendly to assist with setting up meetings.  Here is a link to give you access.  Click on the "clone" 30 minute meetings for my availability before September 1st.  The other 30 minute meetings option begins on September 1st.  I'll still have my calendar on my door, too, but this saves you some steps (unless you want to be fitbit friends, then you can come to the office to check).  At the meeting next week we'll set our times and dates to meet for the year, discuss Educator Effectiveness, PBIS, Family Information Night, and talk a bit about how we will help our teams become more like PLCs.

(I made this with Google drawings during JEDI training)

Thanks to Leah and many of our National Junior Honor Society students, this is now on the wall in the commons.  We need to keep this in mind for your kids, and for ourselves.  Take what you've learned the last two days and take a chance with implementing some of this with your students, and each other.  I can't wait to see what we can do with our kids all year long.
See you all next week.
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Get set...

Next week we'll all be together again for the first time since the middle of June.  I can't wait to see you, learn with you, catch up on the summer, and begin to focus on the school year.  I have been trying to find things to share with you that will start to get you a bit more excited for the start of the school year.  Here are a couple of blog posts from some of my Twitter friends.

Hustle Like It's the Last Game of the Night (from @_AndyJacks)

A Few Ideas for a Better Organized Year (from @pernilleripp)

Learning is Irregular (from @Dwight_Carter)

(from Power of Positivity)

(I made this using Google Drawings)

(from @alphabetsuccess)

(from @cathern2)

The video of this little girl is how I hope that all of you feel while coming to school every day.  If you don't, bookmark it and watch it every day before you leave home or before school starts or right after lunch or whenever you need a little pick me up.  It sure works for me.
(from dmchatster on YouTube)

Staff highlights
I appreciate all of you who completed the staff highlights form.  If you haven't, please do so before next Monday.  Here is the link.  This is what I have put together so far, but I need more pictures before I send out the first one.
(I made this using Canva)
And, whether you are a fan of Michael Phelps or not, this advertisement is inspiring.  If the families only knew what you do, every day, to prepare for the kids, they would be amazed.

(This is an UnderArmour ad)

See you all on Monday!  It will be great learning with you again.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

On your marks...

Well, it won't be long until we're back together again.  Soon you will read the agenda for Summer Academy, Work Days, and Assessment Days that Ron will be sending you.  I'm excited to be learning with you during the Summer Academy and I look forward to meeting with all teams at some point in time during our two work days.

If you haven't been in the building this week, it might be a good idea to wait until next week.  The custodial staff is doing a great job preparing classrooms, hallways, and all other areas for you and the kids.  I'm sure that John will send out an update soon about when your rooms will be ready.  The gym is being repainted, too.  I can't wait to see what it looks like.

Staff smore from July 29, 2016 and staff highlights form
Just in case you missed it, Mike and I sent out a smore for staff last week.  There are some important items (PTO Boosterthon, new staff, some fun reading on my blog) that might be of interest to you.  Here is the smore so you don't have to go check in your emails.
I also had a Staff Highlights form I sent out for you to complete.  In case you can't find it, here it is.  It's seriously 8 short answer questions.  I'd also like a picture or two of you that I can use to share this information in upcoming family smores.  Thanks for playing along.

Garden update
Thanks to Dave Wagner, Patrick Middleton, and many NJHS volunteers, the garden is really doing well this year.  I dropped off squash, peppers, and cucumbers Wednesday at the Hartland Food Pantry.  The volunteers were so happy to hear that we will be bringing our harvest to them in the weeks to come.  Stop on out and take a look when you have a chance.

This is what I'd like to focus on this year.
Some of you may know Pernille Ripp.  Others of you may have heard of Pernille Ripp.  We all should find time to read what Pernille has written this week in her blog.  Here it is.  Let's make sure that we continue to keep the focus on our kids.  And as John Gunnell would say, "Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  And take care of yourself."

See you soon.