Friday, February 26, 2016

What one risk did you take this week?

It was one week ago that Dave Burgess, the pirate, joined us for what many of you would said was the best professional development you have ever had.  With that being said, I don't want us to fall in the trap of having someone come in, get us all fired up, and then we don't do anything with what we learned.  I have begun to really think about being purposeful with our next student assembly in March.  The focus will be on digital citizenship and how to make our students more aware of the good and the bad that comes from being connected.  If you have any ideas to share, please let me know.  Now comes the important question- What one risk did you take this week?  Was it a new activity to start class?  Was it a new mid-lessson interruption?  Was it decorating your class to set the scene for the lesson, or the day?  Please take a moment to fill in this Google form so that we can share our risks for the week.  As Brian would say, "We are our best resource."

Monday, February 29th      CPR/First Aid training all day for me
                                              School Board meeting 7:30PM
Wednesday, March 2nd      Jay out all day (I'm over 50 and I need to see a doctor.)
Thursday, March 3rd          PTO meeting 2:30PM
                                              7th/8th grade conferences
Friday, March 4th               Shadow a Student Day (I'm shadowing a student all day.  See the link for more information.  Any interested students can sign up at lunch all week.)
                                             Trivia Night 6PM (Anybody going to join me?)
Here is the sign up for classroom support.  Limited spots on Tuesday and Thursday only.

Tweets, blogs, and quotes
"Live daringly, boldly, fearlessly.  Taste the relish to be found in competition--in having put forth the best within you."- Henry Kaiser, industrialist
Why I'm still tweeting (from
"If you don't value your time, neither will others.  Stop giving away your time and talents.  Value what you know, and start charging for it."- Kim Garst, entrepreneur
"Desire is the starting point of all achievement."- Napoleon Hill, writer
"My opinions may have changed, but not the fact that I'm right."- Ashleigh Brilliant, writer and cartoonist
"The thing about a hero is even when it doesn't look like there's a light at the end of the tunnel, he's going to keep digging, he's going to keep trying to do right and make up for what's gone before, just because that's who he is."- Joss Whedon, screenwriter and director
"The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success."- Bruce Feirstein, screenwriter
"How easy it is to judge rightly after one sees what evil comes from judging wrongly."- Elizabeth Gaskell, writer
Ir's Oscar week (current events hook)! (from
Definitely not one of your teacher goals.  Time should fly for kids if they're engaged.  (See below- from @teachergoals)
Runners Like Us (a post about my running streak from @brooksrunning)
"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand."- Randy Pausch, computer scientist and writer
@mertonint on Twitter
#mertonint on Twitter
Merton Intermediate School Facebook page
Family smore for 2.26.16

Great things I saw this week- (pictures at #mertonint on Twitter)
World Read Aloud Dress Up Day- lots of great costumes!
The Great Wall of Health
Using dominoes for scatterplots in math
Videos used to send home a point in workshop
Preparing for Jump Rope for Heart
Videos used to reteach rules for positive and negative numbers

Looking for images?
I got a letter from a friend of mine about a link for over 11,000 copyright-free digital images.  Ever looking for just the right image to use for a presentation or as a bell ringer.  You just might find one here.

How cool would this be?
As many of you know, I'm a member of a voxer group called #principalsinaction.  One of the principals, Lindsy Stumpenhorst (lmstump) created this video called #whyiteach.  I think it would be awesome if we could put together one for our school.  Who wants to join me?  If you do, you can use this template (found near the end of the pdf) to create your own story bubble.  Take a picture with it and email it to me.  I'll take it from there and put it into a video.  Please get them to me by next Friday so that I have some time to put the video together by the end of the quarter.

I hope that you all enjoy the weekend.  The weather looks good so take a walk with a friend or your family, wash your car, or hit some golf balls.  Whatever you do this weekend, relax and refresh for next week.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Best PD ever!

This morning you will be entertained, challenged, pushed to new thinking, and learn a lot about yourself.  It will be an awesome day, and I go so far as to say that it will be your best PD ever.  I would stake my career on it.  You will be invigorated and you will be inspired.  When I first heard Dave speak, after reading his book, I realized that I had not done enough for my students as a teacher.  It has made me prepare more for the students on Wednesdays.  I've played my trumpet.  I share personal stories.  I use videos.  I use hooks whenever possible.  Remember that hook google form that I sent out?  Here is what your colleagues came up with, and if you'd like to add yours to the list, just use the form.  That was the first in a series of little hints that Dave was coming to Merton.  Be prepared to be hooked into being a pirate today.  It will change the way you teach and prepare your students to learn.

Monday, February 22nd          No School
Wednesday, February 24th      World Read Aloud Day (dress as your favorite book character)
Thursday, February 25th         Grade level meetings
Friday, February 26th              No office day (What will you invite me in to be a part of today?)
Fill out this classroom support chart if you'd like me to visit this week.

Tweets, blogs, and quotes
"In life you must choose between getting a job done or getting credit for it."- Leo Szilard, physicist
"Nothing endures but change."- Heraclitus, philosopher
"Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together."- James Cash Penney, entrepreneur
All they need is love (from @_AndyJacks- a great post about loving our students)
"Don't wait until conditions are perfect to begin.  Beginning makes conditions perfect."- Alan Cohen, writer and motivational speaker
"I think in terms of the day's resolutions, not the year's."- Henry Moore, artist
"If anything is worth trying at all, it's worth trying at least 10 times."- Art Linkletter, radio and TV personality
"A total commitment is paramount to reaching the ultimate in performance."- Tom Flores, football coach
3 articles about reading (from
"If you don't make things happen, then things will happen to you."- Robert Collier, writer
@mertonint on Twitter
#mertonint on Twitter
Merton Intermediate School Facebook page
Family smore for 2.19.16

(from PixTeller)

A challenge for you...
Although this post was written by a principal, the message is still an important one for all of us to reflect upon.  The post is called "5, 4, 3, 2, one-derful!" and was written by Kas Nelson (@kasnelson), a #principalsinaction all star.  I took her challenge and here is my post.  Even if you aren't a blog writer, I encourage you to take the challenge!

(from PixTeller)

I'm more than excited for today.  Not much left to say but see you soon and have a great long weekend.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5- A #principalsinaction challenge

Thanks to my fellow #principalsinaction colleague Kas Nelson (@kasnelson), I have taken the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 blog challenge.  By the way, if you aren't following Kas on twitter or haven't started following the #principalsinaction hashtag, you are missing out on daily awesomeness.  And don't think you need to be a principal to follow #principalsinaction.  Follow and share the nuggets of greatness with your principal or superintendent.  You won't be sorry.
Now on to the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 blog challenge.

1.  What has been your ONE biggest struggle during this school year?
My biggest struggle has been getting into each classroom every day.  Now I think I do a pretty good job with this, but my focus needs to be better.  I need to interact more with students, when appropriate in classes, in the hallways, before and after school, and during lunch and recess.  I know if I put student interactions on my calendar that I will be more likely to make the time to be an active learner in classes.

A related struggle has been providing reflective feedback to staff.  Sure, I'm in classes all day long because you can't be an effective principal from your office.  I also have the requirement of doing walkthroughs and although I'm right on schedule with these, I need to be more diligent in providing feedback.  Occasionally I have left messages on Voxer after leaving a classroom, but I need to do this more often.

2.  Share TWO accomplishments that you are proud of from this school year.
Number one-  Our continued implementation of our PBIS program.  Two of our staff, Katie Francoeur and Matt Pomeroy, took the lead during the 2014-2015 school year.  As with any change, it's important to reflect upon what went well and what we need to change.  I honestly believe that because this new program was introduced and directed by two staff members it met with greater success than if it had been introduced from administration.  By no means is it perfect, but it sure has had a positive impact on the culture of our school for both students and staff.

Number two-  The book chat of "Beyond the Bake Sale" with families and staff.  We have met and had some phenomenal discussions.  The honesty of the members of this group have helped our school, and me, to become better at what we do.  We still have some work to do but having this group to provide direction has been awesome.  The best part is that we have decided to really look at the way we do our Open House to be more inclusive of new families and to provide more information about how our school operates.

3.  What are THREE things you wish to accomplish before the end of this school year?
Number one-  I need to get a coding club started, like yesterday.  We've got spheros and now I just have to find someone ready to lead this opportunity.  Any takers?

Number two-  I need more of a family-school balance.  I'm not sure how to accomplish this right now, but I need to be school focused when I'm at school and more family focused when I'm not at school.  Anybody know of a book or an app that can help me with this?

Number three-  I need to really need to get to know more students.  As a principal, there are those students that I get to know well for a variety of reasons.  See my struggle above for my attempted plan to accomplish this.

4.  Give FOUR reasons why you remain in education in today's rough culture.
Number one-  Because the kids deserve it!

Number two-  Because the staff deserves it!

Number three-  Because the families deserve it!

Number four-  Because I want to give back in a way that honors my original teachers (my parents), all my teachers and professors, and my colleagues.

5.  Which FIVE people do you hope will take the challenge of answering these questions.
Number one-  Mike Budisch (@headlearner) because he has much to share with the education community.

Number two-  Tom Whitford (@twhitford) because I miss his humor, his straight forward thoughts for improving education, and the connections he has helped me make with other top notch educators.

Number three-  Elaine Mead (@ElaineMead1) because she just needs one more push to get blogging and the world will witness her greatness.

Number four-  Any of the great educators at Merton Intermediate School (@mertonint and #mertonint).

Number five-  Joe Schroeder (@joeschroeder23) because he has a mind for education like no one else I know.

I look forward to reading all of your 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 blogs.  Anyone else out there want to accept the challenge?

Thursday, February 11, 2016


I am one fortunate guy.  I have made connections with some awesome people.  The most awesome of connections are the ones that I make with each of you, the students, and their families on a daily basis.  There was one picture from last Friday that really made a connection with lots of people, especially on Twitter and Facebook.  Matt invited me to join the 7th and 8th graders cross country skiing so I took him up on his
offer.  All went well for a while until I took a selfie, lost my balance, and landed on my backside.
I am connected with an incredible group of principals on the Twitter hashtag #principalsinaction as well as a Voxer group by the same name.  We have challenges every week (so far we've gone down slides, ridden tricycles, and done hula hoop contests) and this week we have a "fitbit" challenge.  I don't have a fitbit, but I'm still walking about using an app on my phone to keep track.  Next week on Friday, we will all have a chance to connect with one of my Twitter connections.  I have met him in person, been involved in Twitter chats with him on Monday nights, and used his book for a book chat with some of you.  Stay tuned as there are more hints coming next week as well as an opportunity to purchase some of his books and get them personalized.
I had a chance to strengthen connections this week at the High School/Middle School Principals' Conference.  Connections that I have made on Twitter and Voxer are so much easier to extend face to face.  That may be why I like the school connections I have.  I get to visit classrooms, hallways, the cafeteria, and playground and sit down to talk with students and staff.  It's great getting to know each of you better.  Don't forget, we're getting together after school this Friday to continue to build our connections.  Any ideas of where we should go?

Monday, February 15th            BLT meeting 4:15PM (link to agenda)
                                                     Game at Merton 6:30PM
Wednesday, February 17th      Digital Learning Day
                                                     A-team meeting 1:30PM
                                                    Culver's Night  4-8PM
                                                    Game at Merton 5:30PM
Friday, February 19th              All day Professional Development (I am excited beyond belief!)

Student Showcase
Here's a chance to showcase our kids at the School Board meeting on Monday, February 29th.  This could be a grade level showcase, content area showcase, or activity showcase.  Anyone interested?  Just let me know by next Thursday at our grade level meetings.


They are all our kids!
In the last month or so, I've started to notice something, and it's a little concerning.  You know how I feel about our kids.  They are all our kids, regardless of grade level or label.  They look to us for advice and they listen even when we don't think they're listening.  Please take a moment to reflect on discussions about kids you've had recently, and instead of pointing out what others can or should do, think about what you could do.  This blog post, Our kids from @JoanneMaino1, is a great read and really made me reflect on what we can do for our kids.  It can at times be frustrating, but I also know that you never give up on our kids.

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
"Whatever you think the world is withholding from you, you are withholding from the world."- Eckhart Tolle, writer
Genius hour for the community (from SmartBrief on EdTech)
"You can't build an adaptable organization without adaptable people."- Gary Hamel, management consultant
"Having just the vision's no solution; everything depends on execution."- Stephen Sondheim, composer and lyricist
Why I Stay (from @sweetpcrabtree- Goes along with this video I sent out Sunday)
"The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings."- Okakua Kakuzo, scholar and writer
"Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win."- Max McKeown, writer and leadership consultant
Fall in Love with Twitter (from #SocialSchool4EDU)
"Nothing gives one person so great advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances."- Thomas Jefferson, 3rd US President
"If you want to lead an extraordinary life, find out what the ordinary do--and don't do it."- Tommy Newberry, writer and motivational speaker
#mertonint on Twitter
@mertonint on Twitter
Merton Intermediate School Facebook page
Student assembly from 2.10.16- Success (By the way, did you all fill out 2 Mustang Medals this week?)
Family smore for 2.12.16

I should be back from the Principals' Conference some time this afternoon.  I'll check my voicemails and then I'll be out and about reconnecting with all of you and the kids.
Thanks for all that you do for our kids and for each other.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

February drearies- find your passions

As I started writing this on a dreary February morning, I realized that February can be a difficult month for a lot of people, myself included.  When I get the "drearies", I start to think about those things which are my passions.  Golfing, fishing, and running come to mind.  But my greatest passion, outside of my family, is our school, the students and staff that I get to be with every day.  Even on my worst day, the days full of time away from kids, I know that as soon as that meeting is done, I can stop into a classroom and get re-energized.  Merton Intermediate School is the driving force behind me trying to do and be my best everyday.  And sometimes I might fall short, but tomorrow provides another chance.  My passions are driven by the students, you, and my PLN (face to face, Twitter, and Voxer) as you all challenge me daily to be better.  I'd love to discuss your passions with you.  We might have some in common.  Now we just need a venue.  How about finding a place following school on Friday, February 12th?

Third time is the charm?
This is the final time I'm sending this 2 question Google form.  There are currently ten of us who have shared our best hook.  Don't be the only one left out.  If you don't share a hook, you won't see the results.  Here's the form.

And while I'm at it...
Last week I sent out a Google doc with times of the day for me to come in and support within your classroom.  Sarah K. signed up and I got to stop in and confer with four students.  I must admit that I was a bit disappointed that others didn't sign up.  You don't even need to prepare anything for me to do.  I want to come in to help out, read with students, discuss a project, you name it.  Here's my attempt for next week.

World Read Aloud Day is February 24th
Last year we did "Drop Everything and Read" for 20 minutes for World Read Aloud Day.  This year I'd like to have "Dress Up as Your Favorite Character" for all students and staff.  Those that participate can read aloud like their favorite character.  Who's in?

Monday, February 8th           7:30-8:30 meeting
                                                10:30-11:30 scheduling meeting with Swallow
                                                 5:30 game at Merton
Tuesday, February 9th           7:15-8:30  basketball practice
                                                 9:15-9:45  coaching meeting
                                                 3:15-4:00  cover class
                                                 4:30-8:00  conferences
                                                 4:15-5:15  practice in Library
Wednesday, February 10th    8:00-9:15  RtI Wednesday (Staff recognition awards at 8:00)
                                                 2:00  leave for AWSA Principals' Conference
Thursday, February 11th       All day at AWSA Principals' Conference
Friday, February 12th            2:00  return from AWSA Principals' Conference
                                                Valentine's Day spirit day (Wear red, pink, or white)
                                                Staff social after school?

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
"Your days are numbered.  Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun.  If you do not, the sun will soon set, and you with it."- Marcus Aurelius, emperor
Tips to use blogs and videos to connect with parents (from Math Education SmartBrief)
"Ignore failure.  Try anew until you succeed."- Tim Fargo, writer and entrepreneur
How Voxer has changed our life (from @awelcome about our #principalsinaction group)
"As you become more present in your own life, you will begin to enlighten others by your example."- Germany Kent, media personality
Give the kid a break (from @joesanfelippofc)
"The thing that makes you say, 'I want to do something'- that is the beginning of talent."- Stella Adler, actress and teacher
@mertonint on Twitter
#mertonint on Twitter
Merton Intermediate School Facebook page
Family smore for 2.5.16.

(from @educationinKS)

As I sit in my office during conferences, I have to reflect on one of the conferences I attended.  Believe it or not, the two pictures above are directly related to the conference.  You know I love it when we have celebratory conferences and not just "kick in the rear" conferences.  Tonight was an epic example.  Mom was crying.  Dad was speechless.  The student couldn't stop smiling.  It was awesome, and the top picture exemplifies that.  The student was awesome, but the awesomeness extended to the teachers who were in the conference.  The belief that the student could get it together was evident in everything that was said.  The turn around in this student was awesome.  That's what the second picture exemplifies.  If we tell a student they can do better and raise the bar, they will reach for it.  They might not get over it, but they'll probably knock it down.
And now back to the first picture.  Who's awesome?  You're awesome!
Have a great weekend!