Thursday, December 28, 2017

Connected, my #OneWord2018

A reflection for my Merton family, students, staff, and families

As I sit in my office, visiting our school for the first time since I left on Friday, December 22nd, I reflect on the connections we have made with our students and with one another.  In some cases, we have done an exceptional job.  In other cases, we have not done enough.  I know that each of you have a large number of students to connect with.  We all do, and that shouldn't be an excuse.  It should be our challenge.  There are days when we are tired, or overwhelmed, or sick, or frustrated, or all of these at the same time.  Those are the days when focusing on a relationship with one student or colleague can provide a complete turn around.  My #principalsinaction friends, in particular Mark French, challenged one another to come up with #OneWord2018.  If you can't tell, mine is "Connected".
Now I know that many of you think that I chose connected due to social media and the incredible PLN that I have.  That is not the reason for my word choice.  The face to face connections that we have and need to develop every day is the reason for my #OneWord2018.  I have the opportunity every day at school to improve on my connections with students, staff, and families.  When I take the opportunity to connect with a student or group of students, they get to know me better and I get to know them better, too.  When I take the opportunity to connect with a colleague, I need to focus on that time to listen, to learn, and to share the great things they are doing with and for our students as well as setting goals for improvement.  When I take the opportunity to connect with families, I need to focus on finding the ways to make things the best they can be for their child or children.

Notice that each of these connections doesn't mention social media.  Connections are about relationships, and social media or emails or phone calls can start a relationship, but to truly build a relationship, one must have face to face conversations.  Now here's where you all come in.  I need those gentle, and sometimes not so gentle, reminders to unplug and disconnect from my device while we are talking.  My #OneWord2018 of connected is meant to focus on building relationships with all of you and I know that I will need your help.  Thanks in advance!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Are you able to unplug?

Adam Welcome, one of my friends from the Twitters, Voxer, and Google hangouts, as well as one of the co-authors of "Kids Deserve It", mentions in the book that he went on a family vacation for 5 days and left his phone at home.  I think I get hives just thinking about doing that, but I'm going to give it a try from Sunday through Tuesday.  If I need to take a picture, I'll use my old iPod instead of my phone.  I can post things later.  My challenge to you is to try to do the same thing- stay unplugged for two days during Winter Break.  I've chosen Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but you can choose any days you'd like.  I will promise you this- you will definitely not receive any emails from me on those two days nor will you see any tweets or Facebook posts.  That can wait until December 26th, and I'll be back to connecting and learning with you and the rest of my PLN.

Nothing until Tuesday, January 2nd!  I'll email a blog post New Year's Day in the afternoon with a calendar for the week.  No emails from me until then unless there is some sort of emergency!

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
(from MindShift)

(from George Couros)

Every now and then a man's mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.,
physician and writer

(Do all of our students and colleagues know this?-from @sylviaduckworth)

When you get into a tight place, and everything goes against you till it seems as if you couldn't hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that's just the place and time that the tide'll turn.
Harriet Beecher Stowe,
abolitionist and writer

Sticky teaching (from Ben Gilpin- There are a few other great links, too!)
7 Questions on Relationships and Lifelong Learning in Education (from George Couros)
Family smore for 12.22.17

I hope that you have enjoyed the 12 days before Winter Break and the fun we've had with our dress up days.  It sure was fun for me!  Now please make sure to relax, refresh, and reflect the next week or so.  I'll see you all later today.  Safe travels and enjoy your family and friends.
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Friday, December 15, 2017


Wednesday morning we had an assembly.  I have had a number of assemblies in my over 10 year journey as principal at Merton Intermediate School, but this one made me the most nervous.  I needed to send a message to all of our students about the importance of choosing kind.  It may not seem like a difficult message to send.  After all, who doesn't feel great when they are treated kindly?  I appreciate you all coming in at the end of the assembly to hear our challenge to be kind all the time, every day.  I really think that the videos and my personal stories had an impact on the students, but did the impact end once the students left the gym.  That's where you come in.  Please help keep the #ChooseKind focus in our students and each other.

Monday, December 18th
Lunch on Jay and Jen (And you know Jen does all of the work)
8:50-10:15  cover Colleen and Michelle
4:15-5:15  BLT meeting
7:00  Board meeting
Tuesday, December 19th
2:00  Future Ready Google hangout
4:15-5:15  Homework Club
Wednesday, December 20th
PTO brunch and gift wrapping
I'll be visiting classrooms all day!
Thursday, December 21st
Grade level and specials meetings
4:15-5:15  Homework Club
Friday, December 22nd
I'll be visiting classrooms all day!

Great things I saw this week...
The learning continues, every day, in every classroom.  (Keep the kids engaged and hold them accountable and they'll come through for all of us!)
Kids doing Google expeditions, and hearing their oohs and ahhs.
The concerts on Tuesday.
The standing ovation on Wednesday.
The kids during our Wednesday assembly.
Staff celebration of the great work you've all done.

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
3 Ideas for Taking Care of Yourself Before the Break (from George Couros)

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.

(from Pinterest- Harness your inner Michael Corleone for next week!)

Moving From Obstacle to Advantage (from George Couros)

Although I want you all to take a break from school, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share this with you.  It's a chance to do a some professional learning over Winter Break.  It's called the "Ditch That Textbook Summit" and was in an email from Dave Burgess.  If you are interested, it's easy to sign up and you can choose which of the modules you'd like to learn about.  Here is the link.  Maybe I'll see you in a couple of modules over break.

Enjoy the weekend, and #GoPackGo!
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Friday, December 8, 2017

Wonder Effects

Did you notice any changes this week after we saw the movie "Wonder"?  I have noticed a couple of things, like more students helping one another in the halls and a variety of "Wonder" related postings on doors, windows, and bulletin boards.  There is a Wednesday assembly next week and I'll be focusing our time on the theme of #ChooseKind.  If you finish your learning in time, please join us in the gym.  I've got some videos and a story or two that will hopefully have an impact on our students, and maybe on you, too.

Great things I saw this week...
Staff stepping up, again, to help one another out with unexpected situations.  This is becoming a habit, and I love it!
Staff sharing pictures via Twitter while I was at SLATE.  Thanks!
Teamwork in a variety of classes.
The true collaboration and open discussions during grade level and specials meetings.
Kim doing the announcements, with her own little challenge for the Giving Tree.  All of the tags were gone before lunch yesterday!
I just love watching the kids do Google Expeditions.
A wonderful report from the teachers about the behavior of our 7th graders on their field trip on Thursday.
Merton Theater team working concessions for the 5th grade girls basketball tournament.  And Jim and Dan did their "normal" exceptional work keeping the tournament running smoothly.

Monday, December 11th
It's a great day for me to be hanging out in classrooms!  Invite me in for some learning!
Tuesday, December 12th
4:15  Homework Club
5:30  Band concert
7:00  Choir concert
*I hope you can stop in for one of the concerts.  Jonathon, Michael, and the kids would appreciate it, and so would I!
Wednesday, December 13th
8:00-9:15  WIN (What I Need) Wednesday
1:15  A-team meeting
Thursday, December 14th
Grade level/Specials meetings
2:00  New family tour
4:15  Homework Club
Friday, December 15th
It's a great day for me to be hanging out in classrooms!  Invite me in for some learning!

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
High, Mid, and Low (from George Couros)

Instruction does much, but encouragement everything.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,
writer and statesman

(from Pinterest)

Excuse Me While I "Just" Go Innovate (from Pernille Ripp)

Catch them doing something wrong or lead them to do something amazing (from George Couros)

(from @laffinteach)

You will succeed if you persevere, and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles, a delight in climbing rugged paths, which you would perhaps never know if you did not sometime slip backward.
Helen Keller,
writer and activist

Desire is this absurdity that holds open the infinity of possibility.
Wendy Farley,

Building Resilience, Preventing Burnout (from Edutopia)

Your time is your life. Period. How you spend it ends up being what your life is.
Henry Cloud,
psychologist and leadership consultant

Family smore for 12.8.17

We have two full weeks of school left.  Keep the expectations and engagement high, for the kids and yourself, and we'll have another great week of school.  I know that there might be a time where you get frustrated with a student.  Remember they're probably just as excited, or nervous, about the upcoming holiday break.  We will all be losing our normal regiment, and that can be really difficult.  Take a deep breath, count to 5, or 500, so that you don't speak out in anger, even if you are angry.  And if you don't think that your interactions, any of them, have an impact on our kids, just watch this.

Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Never Stop Moving Forward

It’s a few weeks until Winter Break.  What’s a #principalsinaction leader supposed to do to keep the learning going, both for our students and our staff?  Now is not the time to change up the procedures and routines.  Now is the time to review them and make sure to keep learning at the forefront in our schools.

So...what ideas do you have to keep this going?  Mark, Ryan, and I suggest the following:

  • Get Out Of Your Office! (If you need a reminder, send Jay a DM on Twitter and he’ll send you a #principalsinaction bracelet!) You can only be a principal In action if you're in the hallways, classrooms, cafeteria, out front, and on the playground interacting with others.
  • Be intentional with your classroom visits. Make sure you're getting into classes, participating with students, and seeing the great things happening. There are a lot of fun things to see between Thanksgiving and winter break.
  • Maintain communication with families about the importance of attendance all the way to Winter Break. We can only be effective and build relationships with students when they're present.
  • Maintain your meeting schedules (all staff or teams) to keep the focus on their learning and student learning. Staff, as well as students, like structure and routines. Many schools take on service projects at this time of year with their communities. It is also a great time to do a staff service project.
  • Don’t use the “it can wait until after Winter Break” excuse. You've already got full days after break so don't overload those.
  • Have fun with your staff and show appreciation and thanks. Plan some "12 Days of Christmas" or "10 Days Until Winter Break" activities to put smiles on adult faces. Send Mark a DM and he'll share what other principals are doing.
  • Look for opportunities to take over a class for a teacher and give the gift of time for them. Being a principal in action, means that you have to be ready for anything. Surprising a teacher with the gift of time, keeps moods positive and the climate is upbeat.
  • Build Relationships: Write a letter that can be sent to students via snail mail over break. There is nothing like receiving mail. You can also send a letter, card, or note to your staff members during winter break.
  • Ryan took ten minutes at his last staff meeting to have all staff members write letters to students to be mailed over winter break. Building a strong community must be intentional and sincere. Once you have the community anything is possible.
We look at the weeks before winter break as opportunities to continue learning, strengthen relationships, and have fun. So, find ways to connect, smile, and get out of your office!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Why wait?

Today we get to see the movie "Wonder" as a school.  There are a number of our colleagues in different cities and states who are jealous about the opportunity we are providing our students.  Thanks to Heidi for working with me on this since August.  We were hopeful you would think it was a good idea and I'm glad that you agreed.  So why the title, "Why wait?"  Here is the reason, and it goes to my the saying on my new favorite sweatshirt- CHOOSE KIND.  Why would we wait until seeing the movie to choose kind?  Why should we wait until seeing the movie to remind our students to choose kind?  We should choose kind all of the time.  Why?  Here are a few reasons.
  • Choosing kind is so much better than the alternative.
  • When we choose kind, we showcase the way we should always treat one another.
  • Choosing kind is contagious.
  • Choosing kind just makes you feel better about yourself.
Great things I saw this week...
It seemed like you and the students got right back to learning without a hitch, despite being out of school for 5 straight days.
Conferring in Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies to make sure that the students really understood what they were doing.
Students getting to reading in less than 5 seconds as I covered a class so some teachers could finish up an important meeting.
Staff continuing to step in and help out another staff member, often without even being asked but just because they knew it needed to be done.
Students behaving well for our guest teachers with all of Wednesday's meetings.
7th and 8th grade basketball playoffs in the gym.
Presentations in 5th grade Science.
Students helping out classmates in the hallway when they dropped some of their materials (This happens multiple times every day.),
Our custodians taking over demolition for our new Learning Lounge (This is going to be really cool!).

Monday, December 4th
SLATE conference all day
Tuesday, December 5th
SLATE conference all day (Could someone please take care of Homework Club for me?)
Tree Lighting 7:00PM
Wednesday, December 6th
SLATE conference until 1:00
Thursday, December 7th
Grade level and Specials meetings
4:15  Homework Club
Friday, December 8th
IEP Power Day

Tweets, quotes, and blogs

How to Make a Teacher Smile (from Jon Harper)

I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.
Douglas Adams,

(from Pinterest)

2 Ways to Brighten Your Day (from George Couros)

People will always try to stop you doing the right thing if it is unconventional.
Warren Buffett,

3 Articles for Student Discussion on "Success" (from George Couros)

Some fish love to swim upstream. Some people love to overcome challenges.
Amit Ray,
writer and spiritual teacher

Positive Words Go a Long Way (from Edutopia)

More Obi-Wan, Less Darth (from Jon Harper)

Family smore for 12.1.17

Thanks for a great full week back!  I enjoyed being in your classrooms this week.  You got the kids back into the swing so quickly after Thanksgiving Break.  Next week, I'll need you to send me pictures or tweets so that I can see you and the kids hard at the work of learning.  I'm excited to attend the SLATE conference but I'll miss being around you and the kids.  I know that Ron and Mike will be around to help out so don't be surprised if they stop into your classes to see the great things you do with and for our kids and each other.
Be The One!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Thanksgiving reflections

Thanksgiving- a time to think about what you are thankful for and to thank those who have helped to make your life better.  I am thankful for...
  • Jen- She is my rock and my navigator and my everything.
  • Lauren- She makes me want to be a better dad and educator every day.
  • My parents, Liz and Joe- They were, are, and will always be my favorite teachers.
  • My brother, Brian, and my sister, Priscilla- Their success as parents and in their occupations makes me want to be better every day.
  • Each of you- I am fired up to come to school every day to see you work the magic you work every day in your classrooms and in all the extra things you do to connect with our kids.
Thank you for all that you do for our kids, and each other, every day!

Monday, November 27th
3:30  Eye doctor appointment
7:00  Board meeting
Tuesday, November 28th
4:15  Homework Club
Wednesday, November 29th
8:30  TILT meeting
12:30  Math meeting
4:15  BLT meeting
Thursday, November 30th
8:00  Coaches' meeting
Grade level and Specials meetings
2:30  Google hangout
4:15  Homework Club
Friday, December 1st
Half day
Wonder movie!

Quotes, tweets, and blogs
Are you more focused on the "new", or the "better"? (from George Couros)

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
Nelson Mandela,
activist and political leader

WONDERful Ways to Promote Kindness in the Classroom (from Scholastic)

Nobody Wants to Be "Fixed" (from George Couros)

So Much More Than Letters and Numbers (from George Couros)

As I Plan My Lesson (from Pernille Ripp)

I hope that you enjoyed your time out of school these last 5 days.  I know that I did.  I spent time with family and friends and was unplugged more than normal.  I need to do that a little more often.  Anyway, this week is going to be a great one, I can just tell.  I need to ask you two favors for Monday morning.

  1. Get out of your classrooms and into the hallways.  Our kids have been away from us for 5 days.  Some of them had a great time.  Others might not and are looking forward to seeing us.  Like my #prinicpalsinaction t-shirt says, "Smiles, high fives, and changing lives."  Let's make that our motto for Monday and the week to come.
  2. Please show this video of the picture book "We're All Wonders".  It's a nice way, I hope, of prepping our kids for the movie "Wonder" on Friday, especially those who haven't read the book.
See you all tomorrow!
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Friday, November 17, 2017

My bus ride

"The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry."  This quote from "To A Mouse" by Robert Burns couldn't have been more true on Wednesday.

From time to time, I'll ride a bus with the students after school.  Wednesday was one of those days.  My intent was to assist the driver with some behaviors as well as to get an idea of the climate of the bus.  Normally when the ride is over the driver brings me back to school.  Well, the driver and I got in a conversation and the next thing I knew I was at the bus terminal in a town other than where our school is.  The last minute of the ride went something like this.

Driver-  Thanks for riding along today.  It was the quietest ride of the year.
Me- No problem.  Just keep me informed if you're having an issues or you'd like me to ride again.
Driver- Do you have a ride back to school?
Me- Yes.  My wife should be here shortly to pick me up.

I got off the bus.  It's pitch black due to day light savings time so I walked closer to the driveway entrance to stand under the street light.  And then I texted my wife and daughter of my predicament.  I didn't have the heart to tell the driver that I was expecting him to take me back to school after the last stop.  You see, I didn't have a ride back to school.  My wife came to pick me up and we had a good chuckle all the way home.

I learned two lessons on that ride.
#1.  Be more specific when riding a bus that you will need a ride back to school after the last stop.
#2.  Spending a few extra minutes with our bus drivers develops a relationship that allows the drivers to know you really care about the kids and about them.

Next time, I may just drop off my car at the bus terminal, ride a bus to school, and then ride a different bus home.  That way I can build a relationship with another driver.  And I won't have to have my wife come pick me up.

It's Thanksgiving week!

I don't have much to share this week except I am so proud and grateful to work with each and every one of you every single day.  We will have a fantastic Friday today and a terrific two day week next week.  I know that you will have meaningful experiences for our students leading up to Thanksgiving because that's what you do every day.  The more we make the next three days like any days of the school year, the more our kids will learn and perform for you like they always have done.  Let's make this the best three days of the school year so far.

Great things I saw this week...
Even in tough times, the staff was able to get together, talk about kids, and laugh about the crazy things that happen to us every day.
Therapeutic toys in 6th grade.
Math stations with mini-lessons.
Kids writing and reading every day, with choice and voice.
Having a chance to cover a math class and reconnecting with kids.
Great discussions in team meetings.
Do you even know how lucky I am to get the opportunity to visit your classrooms and do observations?
Conferences the last two weeks.  I had great discussions about you all with families every night.

Monday, November 20
Move it Monday- wear some workout gear
BLT meeting 4:15-5:15
Tuesday, November 21
No Office Day, as much as possible.
Wednesday, November 22-26
Enjoy Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
Problems are guidelines, not stop signs.
Robert Schuller,
clergyman and speaker

Maybe Next Year (from Pernille Ripp)

I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be who I want.
Muhammad Ali,
11 Ways to Build Capacity and Never Stop Growing (from David Geurin)

"You have to accept whatever comes, and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give." 

— Eleanor Roosevelt

Only Schools Can End Schools (from George Couros)

The risk is the challenge.
Mario Andretti,
auto racer
Today I cried... (from Kelley Begley McCall)

Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.
Grandma Moses,
folk artist

3 Myths about "Empowering" Students in Schools Today (from George Couros)

Family smore for 11.17.17

Once you school is over today, do me a favor.  Reach out to a family member of friend you haven't been in touch with in a while.  Give them a call or invite them to coffee or lunch.  Focus on the relationship you had, or have, with them.  Catch up, listen, and smile.  And then I challenge you to do the same with one of our students next week.  Find the one, or two, or ten, that you think might be having the most difficult time leading up to our long Thanksgiving break.  Connecting with them might just make next week the best two day school week they could ever have.  You may know that a few of your colleagues are reading Kids Deserve It along with me.  This week we did flipgrid videos.  Full disclosure- your colleagues did their videos but I haven't done mine yet.  The power of the messages in this book reminds me of each of you.  If you haven't read the book and you'd like to, let me know if you'd like a copy of the book.  I know a guy.  And if you like the message of the book, maybe you would like to show off the message by wearing a shirt or sweatshirt.  Here's a link to some options, if you're interested.
See you all soon!
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Friday, November 10, 2017


On Wednesday night, at the end of 5th grade conferences, I was involved in #ohedchat, a chat of educators from the state of Ohio.  The question, and my response, was one I think about often at family conference time.  Please take a moment to reflect on my response.

A6 Face to face is more powerful than a phone call is more powerful than an email or text. Make time to talk to someone face to face.

I must say, the power of a face to face conversation does something no other means of communication can do.  When I'm asked, "Are family conferences important anymore?"  My unequivocal answer is YES!  Thanks to all of you for your time with our families to set goals with our students, celebrate our students, and build relationships with our families.

If you're on cycle, don't forget to schedule your observation!
Monday, November 13
Strategic planning 6PM

Tuesday, November 14
Power Day
Homework Club 4:15

Wednesday, November 15
Culver's Night 4-8PM

Thursday, November 16
Grade level/Specials meetings
Homework Club 4:15
6th, 7th, and 8th grade conferences 4:30

Friday, November 17
No Office Day!

Great things I saw this week...
Staff being patient with students struggling both academically and behaviorally
Staff stepping up to help out
Students and Michael preparing for Veterans' Day
Your efforts at family conferences
Staff supporting one another
Keeping the kids first

Quotes, tweets, and blogs
(from Pinterest)

You build on failure. You use it as a steppingstone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.
Johnny Cash,
singer and songwriter

I look forward to our Veterans' Day celebration this morning.  I look forward to making phone calls home today so please give me the name of one student from each grade level.  I'd love a staff member's name, too.  Keep the kids front and center with all that we do today.  Find that one student or staff member that needs you to Be The One and then Be. The. One.
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Friday, November 3, 2017


This has been one of my favorite weeks of the school year.  Why?  I've had to face a number of challenges, both with students and adults, and it made me really sit back and reflect, more than I normally do.  As we approach the holiday season- it is November, by the way- behaviors of all in our schools begins to change or heighten.  Often we only see what's on the surface but, like an iceberg, there are underlying issues and situations that are the real reason for the behaviors.  Remember precipitating factors from our CPI training?  That's what I'm writing about.  See the graphic below about some of these factors.
There are many more than just those that are listed here.  And as I said in our training, don't become a precipitating factor yourself.  In one of my Voxer groups this week, a conversation occurred about how relationships can have an impact, both negative and positive, on the behavior of students and adults.  I challenge you to build one relationship in November using the 2X10 strategy (If you don't know what this is, just ask me!) or by having me take over your class to foster a relationship with "that kid".  Who is up for the challenge?  Extra credit- Blog about the difference this relationship has made for the student, you, or your class.

Great things I saw this week...
BizTown for our 5th graders (animoto is here)
Coaches and staff working together for our kids
6th grade trip to the Cave of the Mounds
Flexibility of staff to help out one another
Laughter in classrooms
Cleaner hallways
Jennifer's efforts for this year's book fair
Kids reading
Kids supporting one another in math
Family meeting about High School Musical Jr.

Monday, November 6th
4 way stop from 8:15-8:45 (Anyone able to help?  You'll get to leave at 3:45 some day in the future!)
8:00AM  #KidsDeserveIt Twitter chat in the library (All are welcome!)
9-11  PTO grants
6:00PM  Strategic planning

Tuesday, November 7th
4:15-5:15  Homework Club

Wednesday, November 8th
8:00  Staff meeting (Sarah and Corinne are leading us)
1:15  A-team meeting
4:30  5th grade conferences

Thursday, November 9th
Jeans for Troops ($5 donation for wearing jeans)
Grade level/ Specials meetings
4:15  Homework Club
4:30  5th/6th grade conferences

Friday, November 10th
9:00  Veterans' Day breakfast
10:00  Veterans' Day assembly
11:00-11:45  Veterans visit classrooms

Tweets, blogs, and quotes
Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.
William Jennings Bryan,
political leader and orator

(from Pinterest)

We Got This (from Pernille Ripp)

Orly Wahba: Kindness and consequence

Letter to a Tired Teacher (from Danny Steele)

(from Pinterest)

Family smore for 11.3.17

Conferences are next week.  It's an opportunity to...
discuss the successes of students.
build relationships with families.
set goals and plans for student struggles.
discuss specific skills you are focusing on.
develop partnerships with families.
share what you are doing with and for students.
share examples of student work.
share student developed goals.
open the door for future communications.

Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Short week, and a challenge

Sometimes with short weeks there can also be a shortage of learning.  That was not the case this week.  Fortunately my schedule permitted me to visit classes all day on Monday and Tuesday and I got to see you all in action.  My goal was to complete the first round of mini-observations for everyone and I came up just short.  I did get to visit almost every class (sorry about not getting into 5th and 6th grade PE as they were at the Primary School this week) and I saw students learning to weave, learning about the Revolutionary War, learning about linear equations, learning about Peru, reading, learning about sketch cubes, picking up a student at his house, using evidence to support thoughts, building hot air balloons, and having conversations with some students about behavior.  And that was all before lunch on Monday.  This is just a snapshot of the great things I have the opportunity to witness every day.  When will you find a way to visit a colleague's classroom to see what they do?  I know a guy who would be happy to cover your class so that you can.

Reminder!  Your SLO/PPG is due today before you leave.  I'm in school and available most of the day if you have any questions (9:00 webinar on the new licensing procedure and 10:00 meeting with a teacher is all that's on my calendar right now.).  You can find the SLO/PPG forms in Google Classroom.

Great things I saw this week...
Balloon building in 5th grade
6th grade students helping each other out with sketch cubes
Staff stepping in to help one another for a variety of reasons (flu and root canals come to mind)
Staff wearing bow ties on Tuesday and the great announcement by the kids
School board voting to move ahead with our 7/8 learning lounge

Monday, October 30th
7:30-8:45  CESA #1
Tuesday, October 31st
3:00-4:00  cover Megan- IEP
4:15-5:15  Homework Club
Wednesday, November 1st
8:30-11:30  Math meeting
9:00-9:45  cover Patrick
12:22-1:03  Social Studies planning
12:30-3:30  TILT meeting
6:30  Principals' Chat with Mike
Thursday, November 2nd
8:55-9:40  6th grade meeting
9:45-10:30  5th grade meeting
12:22-1:03  7th/8th grade meeting
1:30-2:00  Specials meeting
4:15-5:15  Homework Club

Tweets, quotes, and blogs
10 Ways to Get Your Mojo Back (from ASCD Education Update)

The Stress of Learning (from George Couros)

I am not worried about the future at all. I don't like to run it down. I don't like to think of it being too dark, because I expect to spend all the rest of my life there.
Charles Kettering,
inventor and business leader
Family smore for 10.25.17

There are often times as an educator that things don't go exactly as planned.  This week was one of those days.  You know what I mean.  I was able to be a lot of different people this week and it gave me a heightened sense of all that you do every day for our students and each other.  I left school tired, either physically or mentally, every day this week, but it was a good tired.  It's tiring when you are doing great things for our kids.  But remember, we shouldn't be doing all the work.  Our kids should be tired, too, because they have put forth a great effort.  Check over your plans from this week to see if you provided opportunities for our kids to be as tired as you were.  If not, think about how you can change that for the kids.  They will appreciate it, and so will you.
Have a refreshing long weekend.
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Can you change?

I subscribe to three blogs which I mention in no particular order.  One is Pernille Ripp's, another is Dave Burgess', and the final, is George Couros'.  You have probably noticed that as I share at least one of them each week with you.  Last week Friday, George posted this blog- Change the World or Simply Maintain It?  Please take a few minutes to read it.  If you don't read the entire blog, please read the last paragraph.  It's the change we need to make in our classrooms and our school.  Are you ready to go there with me?  After conferences last night as well as some of our discussions during team meetings yesterday, I think we are.  No, I know we are.  The question is, can you find just one thing to do a little differently to make a difference for our kids?  I know you can.

Great things I saw this week...
Our BLT. like all of you, is looking out for all of our kids and all of our staff.
Our kids helping each other out in the STEM lab while learning Inventor.
Mark Flynn speaking to 5th graders about his knowledge of South Sudan.  Best thing- Mark asked the students what they thought about when he said Sudan.  The first answer was Sweden.  It caught Mark off guard, to say the least.
How much our staff takes care of each other.
How much our staff cares about our kids and their families as evidenced in conferences Thursday night and grade level meetings on Thursday.
An 8th grade student helping a 7th grade student, who was using crutches, carry his lunch tray to his table.

Red Ribbon Week
Monday, October 23rd
Wear Red!
School board meeting  7PM
Tuesday, October 24th
Wear team gear!
Homework Club  4:15PM
Wednesday, October 25th
A-team meeting  1:30PM
Thursday, October 26th
Professional Development Day
Friday, October 27th
No school- You better hang out with your family and friends!

Tweets, quotes, and blogs

(from Pinterest)

(from Joni Stevenson, a principal friend of mine from Idaho)

Curiosity Leads to Growth (from George Couros)
Who Do You Need to Thank (from Dave Burgess)
Family smore for 10.20.17

You gotta love your family...
I'm sitting in one of the last conferences last night and my watch started to vibrate to let me know of an incoming phone call.  It was my parents, but I didn't answer my phone.  I just finished up the conference.  Once the conference was over, I called my parents and their first question was if I was watching one of our family friends playing the organ in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.  It's kind of a big deal and they wanted me to be able to hear him.  I told them that I couldn't due to conferences and then our discussion went to their trip to Connecticut, the state where I was born and where almost all of my parents relatives live.  I asked how they were getting to the airport and they said they were driving and parking there.  As my mom said, "It was cheaper than taking a Huber."  We then had a discussion about the difference between an Uber and Huber.  It was just the laugh I needed after an exhausting and exhilarating day.

I hope that today you find one thing that makes you smile and can share that smile with the students or one of our Merton family.
Be the one!
Take care of the kids.  Take care of each other.  Take care of yourself.- John Gunnell