Excellence not Perfection

Last summer, I heard international speaker, Dr. Adolph Brown, speak with a group of educators and he shared his vision of chasing excellence and not perfection. He demonstrated how perfection is an illusion and theoretically if we reached it, we would never have to improve again. In contrast, the pursuit of excellence is attainable and something that we should be engaged in.  Another statement that I heard this summer, from a teaching candidate was “You don’t have to be bad to want to get better“. This is how I want to approach the pursuit of excellence for myself and for our team.

Too often, educators get beaten down with testing statistics, public perception, and challenging parents. I don’t want to add to teachers’ plates by continually saying “Do better“. Yet at the same time, I don’t want us to ever settle for mediocrity.  We are better than that. So instead of chasing perfection, I prefer to pursue excellence.  I don’t believe anyone went into this profession for fame or fortune.  They came into it to change lives.  For that, we NEED to pursue excellence for ourselves, our school, and our students. As a principal, I need to balance that line of keeping spirits up and of pushing people to continually improve. That starts with me.  I need to model risk taking, continuous learning, and a positive attitude. It may start with me, but excellence doesn’t happen without the teachers who make the magic happen in their classrooms.

Teaching is hard work and it takes a special person to live the life of an educator. One of the things that makes our job so special is that it changes with each new student we receive, with each new idea we are exposed to, and with each new challenge we face. Teachers can’t afford to stand still and rest on their laurels, we have to continually grow and improve. Together we ALL need to let the illusion of perfection go and push ourselves to reach the excellence that comes to all educators who are willing to work for it.

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“Excellence is not a skill, it’s an attitude.” – Ralph Marston

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” – Will Durant

“Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.” – John W. Gardner

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Jon Harper                                        Amy Fast

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  • Monday, November 19: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, November 20: REED (Ringler) 8:30 AM
  • Wednesday, November 21 – Friday, November 23: Thanksgiving Break

 

  • Monday, November 26: Students of the Month Assembly 9:05 AM (GRIT), Recognition of Pat Pepple at the Board Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Tuesday, November 27: Achievement Team 8:15 AM
  • Thursday, November 29: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, November 30: Records Day (Optional Report Day)

 

  • Monday, December 3: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, 3rd Grade to Lansing
  • Tuesday, December 4: Grades due by midnight
  • Friday, December 7: Report Cards go home

 

  • Monday, December 10: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, Santa Shop Opens in the East Commons, iReady Window 2 Opens
  • Wednesday, December 12: School Improvement Team 8:15 AM

The Problem with being Profound

The problem with being profound is that it rarely happens.  Even though I’ve been blogging for several years now, I still have feelings of “What will I say this week?” and worry about whether it’s poignant, relevant, and has some wit to it.  When I was first introduced to the idea of educational blogging by Ben Gilpin he warned the audience not to focus on being profound, but rather to keep plugging away at it.  Not every post will be riveting, and not every entry will be a grand slam.  However, we should keep at it and keep working on improving communication and the sharing of ideas.

As I thought about this (and my lack of an inspirational message), I thought about the challenges that teachers face in creating exciting and relevant lessons each and every day.  Research shows that the average teacher facilitates 900 lessons a year.  That’s a lot of time to be “on the spot” and engaging!  And while it’s great to have those magic moments when your lesson is awe inspiring and perhaps life changing for a child, many of them may simply be covering the curriculum.  They won’t all be grand slams, but a good teacher will do their best to make them all relevant, engaging, and meaningful. Teaching 900 lessons a year isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for the dedicated, creative and constantly improving professionals that I believe most teachers are (or aspire to be).

So going back to my baseball analogy, I thought it was more important to get a lot of hits than the occasional grand slam. My original intent in creating this blog was to communicate with staff in a more dynamic way and to share some of my philosophy and experiences in an effort to make meaningful connections.  In the same way, teachers’ lessons aren’t all going to be grand slams, but if most are hits and the targeted objectives are covered in a meaningful and engaging way, it will lead to a winning scenario for our students.  Keep swinging away!!

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“Genius might be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way.” – Charles Bukowski

“The simplest questions are the most profound.” – Richard Bach

“The most profound statements are often said in silence.” – Lynn Johnson

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Mike Domagalski                         Shanna Spickard

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  • Monday, November 12: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, November 13: REED (Pisko) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, November 14: REED (Trantham) 8:15 AM, Lock Down Drill 2:00 PM, PTA Board Meeting 2:30 PM
  • Thursday, November 15: CLT 7:50-8:50 AM, Jon to ABC Negotiations 1:30 PM

 

  • Monday, November 19: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, November 20: REED (Ringler) 8:30 AM
  • Wednesday, November 21 – Friday, November 23: Thanksgiving Break!

 

  • Monday, November 26: Student of the Month Assembly (GRIT) 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, November 27: Achievement Team 8:15 AM
  • Thursday, November 28: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM
  • Friday, November 29: Records Day (Optional Report Day)

Redemption for Clementi

A month or so ago, I wrote a blog post called All the Right Notes. In the post, I shared how the composer, Muzio Clementi, was a titan in his day and that he had even mentored Beethoven. But unlike Clementi, who played all the right notes in all the right places, Beethoven broke the rules and became a legend in his field. Some of the feedback I received on the post, was that I had discounted how great a composer Clementi was.  One person noted that every serious piano player was familiar with his work. Even my daughter let me know that I “really dissed the guy”. I started thinking that maybe I was looking at Clementi, the composer, through the wrong lens.

As an educator and former coach, my ultimate goal is that my students or athletes reach their full potential. I don’t want them to be as good as I am, but to surpass me. The more successful they are, the more successful I am. As educators, we always base our success on what our students do and not what we are doing. Looking through the lens of a mentor and teacher, Clementi was the true hero of the story. He provided the foundation and encouragement that allowed his student to reach incredible heights. We must never forget that behind every successful person is someone who taught, encouraged, and believed in them. Many times, that person is a teacher!

Blogging has always been a great way for me to organize my thoughts, share my beliefs, and hopefully inspire other educators. In this case, it also was a vehicle for me to get feedback that stretched my thinking and prompted me to look at things through a new lens. I still admire Beethoven for breaking the rules and not playing all the right notes, but I have a newfound admiration for Clementi who as a mentor and teacher inspired greatness in his student. That’s what all great educators do!

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“A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.” – Brad Henry

“Of all the hard jobs around, one of the hardest is being a good teacher.” – Maggie Gallagher

“Teachers can change lives with just the right mix of chalk and challenges.” – Joyce Meyer

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Tony Sinanis                                 Joe Sanfelippo

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  • Monday, November 5: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM (GRIT)
  • Tuesday, November 6: Professional Development Day 8:00-11:00 & 12:30-3:30 PM
  • Wednesday, November 7: Furniture Committee 8:15 AM, Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, November 8: Staff Meeting with special guest speaker 8:05 AM, Barnes & Noble Book Fair 5:30-7:30 PM

 

  • Monday, November 12: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, November 13: REED (Pisko) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, November 14: REED (Trantham) 8:15 AM, Lock Down Drill 2:00 PM, PTA Board Meeting 2:30 PM
  • Thursday, November 15: Collaborative Learning Time 7:50-8:50 AM, Jon to ABC Negotiations 1:30 PM

 

  • Wednesday, November 21 – Friday, November 23: Thanksgiving Break

Own Your PD

Recently, I was talking with someone who isn’t an educator and she stopped me during one of my stories and asked what PD was? In the world of education, Professional Development is such an integral part of our school year, that we sometimes forget that other professions may not have ongoing training. My conversation was about how often I hear people say that the PD they receive is not relevant to what they need. Let’s face it, teachers have different areas of focus, different levels of experience, different strengths and weakness, and also different passions. I don’t think it’s realistic to expect that district or school PD will meet the needs of all educators. That’s why I’m a strong proponent of taking control of one’s own education and professional development. Below are some ways to “own your PD!

Twitter: This is the quickest and easiest way to develop professionally. Yes, you can use it to post the great things your students are doing, but it’s also a wonderful way to connect with other educators from around the world and gain ideas and inspiration for your own classroom. It’s a wonderful cycle of connecting, learning, and sharing that makes everyone better…and it’s free!!

Blogging: Blogging is a powerful tool to help reflect on beliefs, share successes and failures, and explore new learning. It becomes even more powerful when we connect with others and read one another’s posts. It can  be validating to hear that others have had the same struggles and inspiring to hear about the successes and ideas of others…and it’s free!

ED Camp: This is something that really needs to be experienced to be understood. In a nutshell, ED Camps are the opposite of a traditional conference. The participants choose what is discussed and focused on and everyone’s expertise is showcased (if they wish). Participants list topics on a board at the beginning of the day and whether they would feel comfortable sharing out.  Participants then simply attend the sessions they are interested in. If a session is not what you expected or needed, you simply walk into a new session. The sessions are free flowing, interactive, and self-selected…and most ED Camps are free!

TED Talks: These popular videos that promote the ideas of “Technology, Entertainment, and Design” are easily accessible on YouTube and cover topics from the power of positivity, to brain research, to building relationships. TED Talks are short and sweet with high impact and exploring almost every topic an educator could wish….and it’s free!

Reading: Whether it’s an article, a blog post, or a book, educational reading is a surefire way to expand your thinking, challenge your beliefs, and inspire your heart. The more reading you do, the more you can discuss with others and share resources. I’ve always liked the idea of a professional book exchange area for teachers in schools. While the books in my office are always available to borrow, I think it may be time to start a teacher library.  More to come on that…..and that format is very inexpensive!

Conferences: As much as I love connecting with my online Professional Learning Network (PLN), I prefer meeting with people in person. I love to hear the stories from people as I look them in the face and see their expressions. I love the energy in the room when educators from all over the state or country are present. Conferences can be an expensive form of PD, but the experiences and relationships that develop can be life-changing!

We often talk about the importance of “Voice and Choice” for our students in the classroom. They are also important for Educators when it comes to PD. District and Building PD will always be a part of our experience as educators, but make sure that it is  the basement and not the ceiling of your professional learning. Technology has made connecting  with others easier than ever. That combined with a passion to learn and grow will help you to own your PD and take charge of your learning!

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“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for by ardor and diligence.” – Abigail Adams

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Rick Jetter                                    Rebecca Coda

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  • Monday, October 29: Student of the Month Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, October 30: Achievement Team (Trantham) 8:15 AM, REED (Stromberg) 2:35 PM
  • Wednesday, October 31: Halloween Costume Parade Grades 1-4 at 3:15 PM
  • Thursday, November 1: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM
  • Friday, November 2: Staff Celebration 4:30 PM – ???

 

  • Monday, November 5: Celebrate Monday 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, November 6: Professional Development Day (No Students)
  • Wednesday, November 7: Furniture Committee 8:15 AM
  • Thursday, November 8: Staff Meeting with Special Guest Speaker 8:05 AM, Barnes & Noble Book Fair 6:00-8:00 PM

I Took my Band Off

This summer at the National Principals Conference, I had the opportunity to meet Jay Posick. I had been inspired by Jay for the past several years through social media and was excited to finally meet in person. During our time together, Jay gave me a wristband for the “Principals in Action” group. I’m a part of the group through social media and on Voxer along with principals across the country. The band was a nice souvenir from the conference and a reminder was written on the band to “Get out of the Office” and see the great things happening in classrooms.

I wore the band for the remainder of the summer and into the start of the school year. Then I was invited to a gathering with administrators. I’m probably known as the guy who gets excited about everything (Teaching like a pirate, Twitter chats, even my weekly blog). I’m sure it can be a bit much at times. I started thinking as I prepared to go to the event that I would get a few eye rolls for sporting my Principals in Action band. Another group and another thing I would be recommending to people. I just wanted to be another guy at the party, so I took my band off.

Once the band was off, it stayed off for quite a while. I thought about putting it back on, but then I felt like a fraud. Was I really a Principal in Action or just wearing a band to show that I had met with Ed Leaders at the conference? I certainly wasn’t living out the ideals of the group to be bold and courageous by taking my band off, for fear of a few eye rolls. I hesitated even writing this post, because it showed how easy it was to dampen my enthusiasm. Then I started thinking that it was less important that I took the band off and more important that I put the band back on.  So, that’s what I did!

As educators, it can be intimidating to stand against the status quo, to put ourselves out there, and to take risks. Being out front can often lead to eye rolls or chuckles from others and sometimes you may be like me and take your band off. That’s okay. What’s important is that you try each day to be your best, find your courage, and put your band back on!

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“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” – Coco Chanel

“Better to be a nerd than one of the herd!” – Mandy Hale

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Jay Posick                                 Lindsy Stumpenhorst

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  • Monday, October 22: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, IEP (Medellin) at Grant 2:45 PM, Intervention Cycle 1 Begins
  • Tuesday, October 23: IEP (Trantham) at Randolph 8:15 AM, REED (Stromberg) 2:35 PM
  • Wednesday, October 24: Furniture Committee 8:15 AM in the LMC
  • Thursday, October 25: Staff Meeting 8:05 in the LMC, Picture Retakes in the morning in East Commons, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, October 26: School Improvement Meeting 9:00 – 12:00 (Team subbed out for morning), Jon to ABC Negotiations 1:30-3:30 PM, Monster Mash Dash 6:00-8:00 PM (This is a combination of our Annual Fun Run & Boo Bash events)
  • Monday, October 29: Student of the Month Assembly (Responsibility) 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, October 30: Achievement Team (Trantham) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, October 31: Halloween Parade for grades 1-4 at 3:15 PM
  • Thursday, November 1: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM

Dr. Office vs Emergency Room

Once upon a time, people went to a family doctor. They got regular check ups and stopped into the office when they weren’t feeling well. The waiting room was pleasantly stocked with the latest magazines and comics and appointments were always mostly on time. The doctor knew their patients personally and followed up with them to make sure they were staying in good health.

Fast forward to the present day and many people don’t have a primary care physician. If they are sick, they drive to the nearest emergency room and wait their turn as patients with more urgent needs are attended to and where care is dependent on the level of trauma of the patients. It’s a hectic scenario and one that changes day by day.

Now, both of those scenarios are extremes and represent the idyllic picture we often have in our mind of the family practice and the fast paced world of the ER that is portrayed on television. When thinking of a school classroom, I think many people still have the mental image that would match the doctor’s office. Neat, tidy, and each person getting the attention they need in the order they arrived. The reality is that classrooms are more often like the emergency room. People with higher needs or trauma are often attended to first and the scenarios change day by day. Teachers aren’t family doctors anymore they are trauma informed first responders.

The amazing thing is that teachers make everyone feel like they are at the family doctor’s office, even though they may be working like they are in a triage unit. They make each child feel special, cared for, and meet the needs of ALL students whatever their needs. It may not feel like that to the teacher who feels like they just worked a shift in the ER, but they keep the tradition of educational excellence alive for each student, every year that they teach.  The old schoolhouse, just like the old family doctor’s office may be a thing of the past, but the spirit is still strong in every teacher that works in the modern classroom and our students are better because of them!

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“Courage is grace under pressure.” – Ernest Hemingway

“Mistakes and pressure are invetibale; the secret to getting past them is to stay calm.” – Travis Bradberry

“I turn pressure into motivation to do my best.” – Ben Carson

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Spiri Howard                                   Brad Currie

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  • Monday, October 15: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, Reading Proficiency Reports go home with Students
  • Tuesday, October 16: Achievement Team (Kaufman) 8:15 AM, Fire Drill 2:00 PM
  • Wednesday, October 17: Students Dismissed at 12:10 PM, Parent-Teacher Conferences 1:00-4:00 PM & 5:00-8:00 PM
  • Thursday, October 18: No Staff Meeting, Students Dismissed at 12:10 PM, Parent-Teacher Conferences 1:00-4:00 PM & 5:00-8:00 PM
  • Monday, October 22: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, October 23: Achievement Team (Stromberg) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, October 24: Furniture Committee Meeting 8:15 AM, Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, October 25: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Picture Retakes in East Commons. PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, October 26: Monster Mash Dash 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Wednesday, October 31: Halloween Costume Parade around the school 3:15 PM

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

If you haven’t seen “Won’t you be my neighbor?“, do yourself a favor and rent it. It’s a compelling documentary on the life and impact of Fred Rogers. Even people who are only slightly familiar with the show will be entertained and inspired by it. One of the things that stuck with me about the film was the way Mr. Rogers used a medium that he really didn’t care much for and turned it into a force for good. That medium was television. He saw it as something that had great potential, but was wasted on violence, negativity, and commercialism. He used television to create a world for children that showed kindness, civility, and most importantly that they were special. One producer said that Mr. Rodgers did the exact opposite of what television shows do to be successful and came up with a gem.

Fred Rogers was a very unlikely celebrity. He didn’t dress fancy, mingle with television stars, or amass a fortune. In fact, his show was produced on a shoe string budget. His fame came from generations of children who grew into adults and remembered the man who brought joy into their homes through his television show. He also is credited with actually saving Public Television from being defunded  when he eloquently testified before congress about its true potential. His simple beliefs that children should be listened to, should be valued, and should feel loved made him a powerful force for good on television and in the real world.

As educators, we have access to powerful mediums of communication through social media. And just like television, it can be a tool for negativity, partisanship, and commercialism. My hope is that we follow Fred Rogers’ example and use it as a vehicle to spread positivity and to help students feel valued and loved. I’m sure that he had bad days and felt overwhelmed at times, but he always sang “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood” even when things didn’t seem so beautiful. Probably because he knew someone needed to hear it. When I post on Social Media, I try to take a cue from Mr. Rogers and share that even on bad days, it’s still a beautiful day in the school. How will you use your influence and energy in the classroom and in the world?

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“There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.” – Fred Rogers

“The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self.” – Fred Rogers

“Anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me.” – Fred Rogers

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Mark French                                    Jodie Pierpoint

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  • Monday, October 8: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, Admin Meeting for IRIPs 2:30-4:30 PM, F&P Data due in Illuminate
  • Tuesday, October 9: Achievement Team (Medellin) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, October 10: School Improvement Committee 8:15 AM, Elementary Principals Meeting 11:30-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, October 11: CLT 7:50-8:50 AM, DATA DIVES (rotating subs)
  • Friday, October 12: Fire Drill 9:30 AM, Early Literacy Benchmark Data in Illuminate for K
  • Monday, October 15: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, October 16: Achievement Team 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, October 17: Students dismissed at 12:10, Conferences 1-4 & 5-8 PM
  • Thursday, October 18: Students dismissed at 12:10 PM, Conferences 1-4 & 5-8 PM (Lunch provided by Jimmy Johns)
  • Friday, October 26: PTA Monster Mash Dash 6:00-8:00 PM

Read to Lead

As summer was drawing to a close, I had the opportunity to serve as Sergeant at Arms in the Livonia Rotary Club. One of the Sergeant’s duties is to assess fines to the members in order to draw funds into our service account. The fines are small and we try to make it fun. On this occasion, I decided to fine everyone who had not read a book during the summer months. I thought this would be an easy money raiser. To my surprise, only two members in the club raised their hands with their obligatory one dollar fine and even they had read the monthly Rotary Magazine and the newspaper. It really was a testament to the old saying, “You need to read to lead“.

In recognition of October as National Book Month, our Compelled Tribe of Ed Bloggers are sharing out books that have guided them on their educational journal. I chose three books and the first book helped guide me more personally, while the others were professional inspirations.

Jonathon Livingston Seagull: You will never find this book by Richard Bach on an educational “must read” list. It’s a philosophical story about about seeing past the illusions of life and finding illumination. My mother tried to get me to read it for years, but as a stubborn teen and young adult, I dismissed it. When I finally read it, I was disappointed that I hadn’t read it earlier. Now that my mother is passed away, it is one of my most cherished books and I read it from time to time when I need some inspiration. I highly recommend it to everyone and in full circle karma, I have not been able to convince my daughters to read it…yet.

Teach Like a Pirate: This gem by Dave Burgess was the shot in the arm I needed after 20 years in education. As I read the pages I of the book, I kept thinking this is what education should be like…fun and adventurous! I often highlight passages in books that I agree with or that stimulate my thinking and my copy of Teach Like a Pirate has more highlighted pages than any book I own. Hearing Dave speak several times has brought the ideas and concepts of the book even more alive to me. It’s one that I would recommend for ALL educators.

The Truth About Leadership: This book by Kouzes & Posner was part of my reading with the MEMSPA Leadership Matters cohort. Like my other book picks, this is a short and sweet read with lots of impact. It lists ten “Truths” of leadership that are backed by research and really resonated with me. It starts by sharing the truth that leaders make a difference and ends with the truth that leadership is “an affair of the heart”. Its combination of real-life stories, common sense, and research made it a compelling and useful book for me.

As educators, we are all leaders and need to be life-long learners. The best way to continue to learn is to continue to read. Through reading, we gain new insights and new perspectives and occasionally an epiphany that shapes who we are as educators. What books have guided you on your educational journey? Please share out on Twitter so that others may be inspired by them as well!

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“We’re free to go where we wish and to be what we are” – Jonathon Livingston Seagull

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” – Teach Like a Pirate

“Leaders are here to serve others” – Truth about Leadership

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Ben Gilpin                                   Sandy King

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  • Monday, October 1: Students of the Month Assembly 9:05 AM, Lock Down Drill 2:00 PM, Team Meeting (Stromberg) 2:35 PM, Growth Plans due in Pivot
  • Tuesday, October 2: Achievement Team (Kaufman) 8:15 AM, Conferences Sign Up Genius out to parents
  • Wednesday, October 3: Jon out of Town
  • Thursday, October 4: Jon out of Town, No Staff Meeting, Skate Night at Riverside Arena 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Friday, October 5:  IEP (Kurtjian) 8:15 AM

 

  • Monday, October 8: Celebrate Monday Assembly (Responsibility) 9:05 AM, F&P Data in Illuminate for Grades 1-4.
  • Tuesday, October 9: Achievement Team 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, October 10: School Improvement Committee 8:15 AM, Elementary Principals Meeting 11:30-4:30 PM, PTA Board Meeting 2:30 PM
  • Thursday, October 11: CLT Sessions 7:50-8:50 AM, DATA DIVES (Rotating Subs)
  • Friday, October 12: Fire Drill 9:30 AM, Early Literacy Benchmark Data in Illuminate for Kindergarten

 

  • Wednesday, October 17: Students dismissed at 12:10 PM, Conferences 1:00-4:00 & 5:00-8:00 PM
  • Thursday, October 18: Students dismissed at 12:10 PM, Lunch provided by Jimmy Johns, Conferences 1:00-4:00 & 5:00-8:00 PM

All the Right Notes

One of my stress relievers after a long day is to listen to classical music on my drive home. In addition to the calming music, I love to hear the stories about the different composers. Recently I heard a story about a composer named Clementi. I had never heard of him before, but the radio host mentioned that during his career, he was a revered composer and was even a mentor to Ludwig Van Beethoven. Like most people, I know many of Beethoven’s works and I was interested to discover that one of his mentors was someone I had never even heard of. The host went on to describe the differences between the two composers. They were both skilled at their work, but unlike Beethoven, Clementi followed all the rules of the day. He was described as “playing all the right notes and putting them in the right place”. While this made him a good composer, Beethoven’s daring and boldness with his music made him a legendary composer.

I guess the same could be said of any professional. Doing things consistently and in the right way will make you very good at your job. However, if you want to become great you need to do things that others have not done before and like Beethoven, be daring and bold. In the world of education, we all come from similar backgrounds in education. We receive training from a college, do our student teaching, and then are given our own classroom of students. If we are lucky, we have a good mentor and supportive peers and supervisors. There are so many good teachers in the world of education. Those that do the right thing at the right time. But there are also great educators out there too! Educators that challenge the status quo, who take risks and try new things, and whose passion for doing whatever it takes to make students successful is evident in everything they do. That’s the kind of educator I want to be and that’s the kind of educators that I want to encourage ALL our teachers to be!

Someone told me this summer, “You don’t have to be bad to want to get better.” I thought that was excellent advice. I don’t ever want the teachers I work with to feel beat down or disheartened. I want them to be inspired and encouraged. I also want to them to reject the status quo and leave behind the good and go for the great. When I think of our school, I think, “What would I want for my children?” or “What did I need as a student?“. The answer is never “a good school” it’s always “a great school”. It all starts with us. What will you do this year to move from good to great? Don’t be a Clementi when you can be a Beethoven!

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“Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” – LVB

“I will seize fate by the throat” – LVB

“Music comes to me more readily than words.” – LVB

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Bethany Hill                           Sean Gaillard

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  • Monday, September 24: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, Book Fair Opens
  • Tuesday, September 25: Achievement Team (Kaufman) 8:15 AM, 504 Meeting (Ringler) 2:35 PM
  • Wednesday, September 26: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, September 27: No Staff Meeting, Curriculum Night/Open House        6:00-7:30 PM
  • Friday, September 28: Jon in Lansing for MEMSPA Board of Directors Meeting, Book Fair Closes
  • Monday, October 1: Students of the Month Assembly (Respect) 9:05 AM,          Lock Down Drill 2:00 PM, Growth Plans due in Pivot

No Teacher Left Behind

Several years ago, I saw a short video by Robyn Jackson about supporting struggling teachers. In the video she asked a very important question. “If I expect my teachers to never give up on students, why would I ever give up on a teacher?”. It really got me thinking about ways that we support (or fail to support) teachers. I began to think of the language and strategies that we use for students and wondered why we don’t apply these to teachers as well.

Here are some of the phrases that we often use for students: All means all, give them voice and choice, empower them, never give up on them. What if we replaced the word students with teachers? It’s not about having the right people on the bus, it’s about making sure the bus with all our staff is going in the right direction.

When students are struggling, we use the pyramid model of intervention and provide multi-tiered systems of support. Why don’t we do the same with teachers? Most teachers would fall into the green or base of the pyramid. A few might be in the yellow or struggle in one specific area. With a little coaching, they move right back into the effective green range. If a teacher is in the red zone or ineffective, they may need targeted coaching, training, and mentoring. We use data and interventions for struggling students, why not for teachers?

For me, the big question in supporting struggling teachers is “Why?”. Why are they struggling? Is it because they lack specific skills, do they struggle with relationship building, are they dealing with personal issues that keep them from focusing on students, or are they simple burned out and in need of inspiration? Knowing why a teacher is struggling is the key to finding the right intervention and helping them be the best teacher they can be.

Nobody went into education to get rich or become famous. They entered this profession because they wanted to make a difference in the lives of children. I also believe that nobody wants to be mediocre. Educational leaders need to support teachers who are struggling and inspire those who may have lost the fire in the belly. When we support a child, we can shape their future. When we support a teacher, we can help shape the future of every child they teach. The average teacher impacts over a thousand students in their career. Because of this impact, we need to make sure that No Teacher is Left Behind!

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“A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.” – Brad Henry

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” – William Arthur Ward

“It’s the teacher that makes the difference, not the classroom.” – Michael Morpurgo

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George Couros                        Allyson Apsey

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Was honored to be featured in this week’s A Community of Principals Podcast

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  • Monday, September 17: Team/Parent Meeting (Gruenewald) 8:15 AM, Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, iReady Window closes at the end of day
  • Tuesday, September 18: REED (Banter) 8:15, REED (Ringler) 9:50, Tornado Drill 11:00 (This is a change in time), REED (Adams) 11:20, Principal Training for 5D 3:00 PM
  • Wednesday, September 19: REED (Jones) 8:15 AM, REED (Edwards) 8:35 AM
  • Thursday, September 20: Building PD 7:50-8:50 AM (Bring Yellow Cards), PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, September 21: Bill Roberts from AXA in Lounge (with treats:) 8:00 AM, Picture Day in the East Commons, Parent M-Step Reports mailed out

 

  • Monday, September 24: Book Fair Opens, Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, September 25: Achievement Team 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, September 26: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, September 27: No Staff Meeting, Curriculum Night/Open House 6:00-7:30
  • Friday, September 28: Book Fair Closes, Jon in Lansing for MEMSPA Board Meeting