Thursday, September 22, 2016

The More Things Change

The more things change, the more they stay the same. This expression reminds us that although changes and events keep happening, some things are universal and in the long run often remain the same. This came to mind as I was discussing with a mentor recently about all the changes taking place in education and new initiatives. Quite frankly, I was feeling overwhelmed. The advice was given to list out all the things that were new or had changed and talk about them as a group. Get them out in the open and face them head on. I liked this idea and was planning on doing it when I received one additional piece of advice.  "And list all the things that have NOT changed." Boom, it hit me. Yes, I needed to deal with the changes, but my focus and my attention would be on those things that are constant, universal, and will not change. I quickly made the list in my head of the things that had stayed the same.

We all know the things that make up the constantly changing landscape of education: Budgets (usually for the worse), evaluation models, initiatives, legislation, resources (or lack thereof), buzz words and the list goes on. But when I focused on those things that do not change in education, I suddenly became more positive, more focused, more able to encourage the hearts of those around me.  Here are the things that I came up with when I focused on the things that haven't changed for our team.

1) Our team! Apart from a few changes, our team has stayed consistent and that's a BIG positive. We know who we are, our strengths and our weaknesses, and how we can best support one another.

2) Our building! Many schools this year were being renovated. Having gone through that three years ago, we know the angst that comes from not being able to be in our rooms until the last minute and dealing with all the glitches that follow. Yes, this has been a smooth start with facilities.

3) Our students! Yes, we have many new students this year and will continue to get many move ins, but there are MANY familiar faces in the halls and they know Rosedale and their 3 To Be!

4) Our passion! We chose this profession not because it was easy, but because we want to make a difference in the lives of students and in the world.

5) Our mission: "Building a better world one student at a time"That hasn't changed and never will. We are a committed group of educators who are here to support one another and to do whatever it takes to help each child succeed.

Yes, lots has changed in education and even in our own school. It can make your head spin sometimes. But when it feels like everything is changing, take a moment to remember the things that haven't changed...and never will!

photo credit:


"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein

"A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life." - Muhammad Ali

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." - Heraclitus

I've shared this before, but this is how teachers SHOULD be treated!! 


Monday, September 26: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05-9:25 am
                                        Tornado Drill 2:00 pm
                                        IEP (Fuller) 3:15 pm
Tuesday, September 27: Administrator Training for 5D at the CTC (all day)
Wednesday, September 28: Achievement Team 8:15 am
                                            Fire Drill 2:30 pm
                                            IEP (Merchant) 3:15 pm
Thursday, September 29: Staff Meeting with Andrea Oquist 8:05 am
                                         Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 pm
Friday, September 30: Bill Roberts from AXA in the Lounge 8:00 am
                                    IEP (Robertson) 8:20 am
                                    IEP (Nadon) 3:15 pm
                                    Jon to Lansing for MEMSPA Board Meeting / Sandi Benson in Office

Monday, October 3: Student of the Month Assembly 9:05-9:25 am (Safety)
Thursday, October 6: Staff Meeting 8:05 am
                                   PTA Meeting 6:30 pm
Friday, October 7: Rosedale FUN WALK at Churchill High School Track 1:30-3:00 pm

Great Educators to follow on Twitter!

Ben Gilpin

Allyson Apsey

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Live Music

Those who know me, know that I love music. I love listening to music, playing music, and most of all enjoying music performed live.  In high school and later in college, I went to more concerts than I can count. Later, my venue of live music broadened from Rock Concerts to include Folk, Jazz, and even Opera. I just love live music. Anyone who has listened to a favorite recording time and again and then seen the musician live, you know that the sound is quite different. I remember my first concerts in high school thinking, this doesn't sound much like the album and "They sang that song much differently". It was an acquired taste, but I eventually came to love the live sound more than the "perfection" of studio recordings. Then I came to find the recordings of live performances like Eric Clapton's "24 Nights" and Johnny Cash's "Live at Folsom Prison".  You could hear the energy and the spontaneity. They captured all that's best in a live performance.

I think one of the things I like about live music is the fact that anything can happen. There is an intimacy with seeing the artist perform their work and knowing that each show is unique. They may change up their roster, they may do something original, and they can even mess up. I remember reading an article about Bruce Springsteen forgetting his lyrics at a concert and the crowd singing the song to get him back on track. Even "The Boss" makes mistakes! But I bet it's something that crowd will be talking about with fond memories. Live music isn't about perfection, it's about being in the moment and playing your heart out with every last bit of energy.

As educators, we perform live every school day to a group students. We present at assemblies, we teach lessons in the classroom, and we facilitate discussions among our students. Like music artists, we don't strive for perfection, but rather live in the moment and change direction as we see fit for the needs of our students. We also "play our hearts out" and give everything we have to make each day a unique learning experience for our students. Yes, I love my favorite records of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and so many others, but I'll take a live performance any day. It's not about getting the music right, it's about getting right with the music!

Some of the amazing artists I have had the pleasure to see! 


"Where words fail, music speaks." - Hans Christian Andersen

"Music in the soul can be heard by the universe." - Lao Tzu

"Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy." - Ludwig van Beethoven


Monday, September 19: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05-9:25
Tuesday, September 20: REED 8:15 am (Casucci)
Wednesday, September 21: Lock Down Drill 1:30 pm
Thursday, September 22: Extended Staff Meeting 7:50 am
Friday, September 23: PBIS Committee 8:05 am

Monday, September 26: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05-9:25
                                        Tornado Drill 1:30 pm
Tuesday, September 27: Administrator Training for 5D at CTC
Wednesday, September 28: Achievement Team Meeting 8:15 am
                                           IEP 3:15 pm (Merchant)
Thursday, September 29: Staff Meeting 8:05 am with Andrea Oquist
                                         Fire Drill 2:30 pm (run by Joe Libtow)
                                        Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 pm
Friday, September 30: Jon in Lansing for MEMSPA board meeting / Sandi Benson in Office

"The Thrill is Gone" - BB King live!


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Level Up!

For the past three years, our district has done something very innovative and transformative with professional development. We have dedicated a day each year to learning about technology innovation that consists of a keynote speaker followed by breakout sessions on various tech tools. The best part of the breakout sessions is that they are led by innovators within our own district! The professional development day is called Level Up and it is a great blend of everyone hearing the same inspirational message while still being able to choose breakout sessions that are meaningful to them. Here is a quick recap of the program history and how they helped me grow professionally.

Year One: Keynote Adam Bellow gave an inspiring presentation and challenged the way I looked at technology in the classroom. At the time, I wasn't on Twitter and did not have a Facebook page for my school. I didn't know who Adam was at the time, but was inspired by the talk and set up my first twitter account in one of the breakout sessions. I also used a Chromebook for the first time. I was a babe in the woods, just exploring what was out there.

Year Two: Keynote Eric Sheninger presented and I was excited because I had been following him on Twitter and had read his book "Digital Leadership". I co-presented my first breakout presentation on Twitter and had started sharing my educational blog and student successes on social media. I was starting to branch out and so were others in the district.

Year Three: Keynote George Couros was amazing and our whole staff was familiar with his book "The Innovator's Mindset" as we had read it as a group over the summer. I again presented on Twitter and also on educational Blogging. Several other school leaders (both in the classroom and throughout the district) presented as well. People were realizing that innovators and experts were to be found throughout our district.

Level Up is what professional development should be. An inspiring message heard by all, utilizing experts from outside and inside the district, and most importantly...choice! Professional development needs to be relevant to educators and without choice that is difficult to accomplish. So, knowing what professional learning should look like and knowing that we have done it, my issue is this...Why are we not doing this with ALL professional development? We started a change in our building last year and we will continue and improve upon it this year. Staff meeting times will be focused on professional development. Staff will be given a choice as to what types of things we will learn. Finally, we will utilize the experts in our building (and in the district) on various topics ranging from technology to differentiated learning to Genius Hour. It's time to change how we do professional development and as with any change it needs to start with us. Great things can happen when we dare to step out of our comfort zone and Level Up!

"Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating." - John Cleese

"It is not enough to be busy (the ants are busy), we must ask: 'What are we busy about?' " - Henry David Thoreau

"Creation is in part merely the business of forgoing the great and small distractions." - E. B. White


Monday, September 12: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 - 9:25 am
Tuesday, September 13: Fire Drill 10:00 am
Wednesday, September 14: Achievement Team Meeting 8:15 am
Thursday, September 15: Staff Meeting 8:05 am
                                         Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 pm
                                         Open House 6:00-6:30 pm / Curriculum Night 6:30-7:00 pm

Monday, September 19: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 - 9:25 am
Wednesday, September 21: Lock Down Drill 1:30 pm
Thursday, September 22: Staff Meeting 8:05 am


     Adam Bellow 

     Eric Sheninger

    George Couros

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Simon Says

In his popular TED Talk, Simon Sinek discusses the importance of finding our "Why". In the talk, he uses Apple as an example of a company that knew their Why and reaped the benefits of it. He also gives examples of companies that did not know their Why and instead focused on their What (or product). He gives a compelling argument that until we focus on our Why (purpose), our What and How are irrelevant. I agree with him. It's our purpose, our mission that is important. Once people know that and a trusting relationship is formed, then we can accomplish anything!

As an educator, I often contemplate my "Why".  For me, it's about making a difference in people's lives and everything I do should be able to stem from that purpose. Why am I in education? To make a difference in people's lives. Why am I a principal? To help support teachers and provide an environment to help make a difference in people's lives. Why am I in a meeting? To discuss ways we can help create a system that supports learning and makes a difference in people's lives. Why am I administering a standardized test for students? Because it's a mandate that I must follow to keep my school in compliance that allows me to continue to create a structure that supports teachers and make a difference in people's lives. Yes, some of my tasks are necessary to help me continue doing the important work of my Why even when they are not pleasant.

Knowing our Why is essential if we want to reach our full potential and achieve our goals. If you don't know your Why, how can you share your passion and dreams with others and make them a reality? Worse yet, you may end up just serving someone else's Why and never aspire to your own. My guess is that most educators can sum up their Why in a few words: To help others, to teach and inspire, to change a life, to change the world. Think about your Why and how your thoughts and actions help you carry it out. Better yet, teach your students to find their Why and help them develop the skills to carry out their mission and reach their dreams!

photo credit: TED Talks

PEARLS OF WISDOM (From Simon Sinek)

"Listening is active. At its most basic level, it's about focus, paying attention."

"Great leaders don't need to act tough. Their confidence and humility serve to underscore their toughness."

"If you have the opportunity to do amazing things in your life, I strongly encourage you to invite someone to join you."

Simon Sinek - TED Talk on "The Golden Circle" (5 minutes) 


Tuesday, September 6: First day for students / 10:00 am Welcome Assembly / 12:10 dismissal
Thursday, September 8: Staff Meeting 8:05 am
                                      PTA Meeting in the LMC 6:30 pm 

Monday, September 12: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05-9:25 am
Wednesday, September 14: Achievement Team 8:15 am
Thursday, September 15: Staff Meeting 8:05 am 
                                       Open House 6:00-6:30 pm / Curriculum Night 6:30-7:00 pm


         George Couros

        Author of "The Innovator's Mindset" 

   Dave Burgess

   Author of "Teach Like a Pirate"

Friday, August 19, 2016


This summer, I have been participating in a weekly Yoga class. My wife had been going regularly and I had been curious about it. Both for the physical benefits and for the opportunity to try something new, I told her I wanted to join her for the class. She thought I was joking at first, but I told her that I had wanted to for some time, but just hadn't been able to fit it into my schedule. I have a very difficult time "turning off" my mind and I thought this would help me learn to focus and relax.  The first class was something that I really enjoyed. Partly because it was completely new to me and partly from the relaxing and inspiring manner of the leader. He led the class with directions, phrases of wisdom, and most of all, continuous encouragement. The second class was actually more difficult, probably because I was focusing more on actually getting some of the poses correct. The classes continued to help me throughout the summer and ironically I ended up going to yoga more than my wife did. I took away three important lessons that I could apply to education and to my life.

Breathe: It sounds silly, but we need to be reminded to breathe sometimes. Not the automatic function of our bodies, but thoughtful deep breathing that is controlled. It's amazing how a few deep breaths can alter our state of mind. They can help diffuse stress and anger and they can also help energize our bodies. We often tell children when they are upset to take a deep breathe. We should heed our own advice and take deep and measured breathes during our day to help our body and mind relax. A good educator knows how to self-regulate.

Balance: In Yoga, we certainly worked on balance by practicing the various poses. It reminded of my wrestling days and the focus on maintaining good balance. However, we also focused on balance for life as well. Is there balance between your mind and body? Is there peace and harmony within? Heavy stuff, but the more we are conscious of it, the sooner we can find that balance. Every educator knows the importance of balance (work/life, structure/nurturing, play/work). I've written about the importance of balance in many posts and a successful educator will find that balance in order to be healthy and productive.

Be in the Moment: This is a hard one for me. I'm constantly thinking about what will happen next and sometimes about what has already happened. I struggle to be in the moment and just enjoy living. Yoga class was great for this. I learned in my first session that wearing my Fitbit was a mistake. I was continually tempted to check the time. I now go in without it and just forget about everything else while I'm in class. There is a great sense of freedom when I can actually just focus on the moment and what I'm doing right then. As educators, this is something that we need to be able to do and also teach our students to do as well.

Each Yoga session ends with a salutation from the instructor: Namaste. It's an ancient word that means "The spirit in me, salutes the spirit in you." What a beautiful way to end each session and a wonderful reminder that we are all equal and that we honor one another. My hope is to apply these lessons at school and in my life and remember to enjoy each moment and help others find their balance and joy as well.

photo credit:


"Yoga is a way to freedom. By its constant practice we can free ourselves from fear, anguish and loneliness." - Indra Devi

"Yoga is just good for you!" - Kareem Abdul Jabbar

"Yoga is almost like music in a way; there's no end to it." - Sting

What is your hope for your students? (3 minutes) 


Tuesday, August 30: 8:00-11:00 Building PD @ Rosedale / 12:30-3:30 5 Dimensions @ Churchill
Wednesday, August 31: 8:00-11:35 Level Up 3.0 with special guest George Couros @Churchill / 1:00-3:30 Priority Project Training @ Saint Mary's Cultural Center
Thursday, September 1: Teacher Work Day

Tuesday, September 6: First day for students with 12:10 dismissal
Thursday, September 8: PTA meeting at 6:30 pm

Thursday, September 15: Open House 6:00-6:30 / Curriculum Night 6:30-7:00 pm