Why I keep blogging

It takes a lot of work to blog. You have to be committed (or you might become committed). I would say the most important thing you need to be committed to is the why. Just like organizations, teaching, administration or even golf, if you know why you are doing something (think mission/vision driven) it makes things a lot easier. For me, it is all about my insights into learning. Simple as that!


Sometimes blogging can be lonely. For me, it is a commitment of time that I could be doing something else. I let my family know I am going blogging, put headphones on, and get to work. Sometimes it takes a few minutes, other times it can take an hour. Sometimes I hit post, and other times I just hit delete. Its all part of the process.


Recently, I had two encounters that reaffirmed  I am not the only one benefiting from this blog.


It was a Friday afternoon and a parent came in to pick up her daughter. She is a teacher who works in a neighboring school. When I came out of my office, I was immediately greeted by this parent. She said, “You! (she pointed at me, smiling) yeah you. I have been waiting to tell you this since Back To School night. You are such an inspiration. The best principal I have ever seen. Tell me to jump off of a bridge, and I will only ask you which one!” I walked over to her, and asked her for a hug. I told her I was humbled by her statement, and that I appreciated her feedback. Wow, I thought, a bridge?


That same weekend I attended a wedding for my wife’s friend’s son. My wife and her friend worked together for 10 years, and they were a supportive network for each other. We really enjoy spending time with her and her family! As we were leaving the reception, on one of the most important days in her life, she took the time to tell me this, “I love reading your stuff. I get so inspired. Keep going. Don’t stop!” Gulp, someone is actually inspired.


I am thankful to have a supportive network that allows me to grow as a blogger, and as a person. Whether it is my family, staff, central administration team, other bloggers, friends or readers, I appreciate the support.


But I know that at the end of the day, it comes down to the why.


This is why I keep blogging!


Why do #youmatter?

Why do you matter?

A few weeks ago I watched the you matter TED talk by Angela Maiers. I was amazed. I knew right away that I was ready to sign up to help Angela with this worthwhile cause. I mattered! I wanted to make sure that everyone else around me knew that they mattered. If you haven’t seen the TED talk by Angela, I highly recommend it.

When I was thinking about how to welcome back my staff I went back and watched the video again. I knew that the you matter theme would guide my staff welcome back.

I went shopping at a local store and tried to find symbolic items that I could place in a brown paper bag. Once I bought the supplies, my wife and I set everything out on our table, and began the process of stuffing the bags.


Preparing the bags and the symbolic supplies


All bags filled and ready to go


The message on all of the bags


At our first staff meeting I showed the staff this video (a shortened version of the TED talk).

Then I had the staff fill out 2 you matter cards. (I just made the you matter cards on Microsoft Word, and cut out 4 per sheet. At the top it read: you matter followed by 5 to 6 lines for the person to write. Very simple). They were given the opportunity to share in front of the staff, or wait until later. There were about 5 or 6 staff members who publicly gave the you matter cards to someone who mattered to them. I gave my cards to the Head Custodian, Wayne Parr, and my secretary, Dina Klaudi. After we gave out all of the you matter cards, I handed the you matter bags to each staff member. Reflecting back on this opening, it was just what we all needed! We also put extra cards in the front office for people to use throughout the year.

One of the staff members, Leigh Simpson, came to me with an idea that was inspired by the you matter theme.  She asked me, “Why don’t we show the parents and students on the first day of school that they matter? Let’s get a red carpet! It will tie in with the ongoing imovie trailers we are doing, and it will show them how much they matter to us!” We rolled out the red carpet, and made an imovie trailer (in real time) to symbolically show everyone just how much they mattered to us!

You Matter at #RMBACON! Just the beginning

Slowly but surely, I began to get you matter cards in my mailbox, and I in turn sent out you matter cards to other staff members. One teacher, Bobby Drewnowski, integrated this into his classes, and made a bulletin board charting the you matter progress with the students.Just the other day I had a conference with a staff member who was having trouble understanding their role in the school. At one point of the discussion, the person said that they felt like no one cared about them. I was taken aback, and thought about the you matter theme. I apologized to them if they actually felt they came to work, and they didn’t feel that they mattered. I learned a lot about the power of you matter through that conference. We all need to feel that we matter.

And the bulletin board grows ….

Dr. Dave Gentile, Angela Maiers, and Jeff Bradbury at the Bammy Awards

I was fortunate to meet Angela Maiers in person when I was at the Bammy Awards last week. I told her all of the things we were doing with the you matter theme. She was so supportive, and took the time to listen to me. I could tell she honestly thought I mattered. She encouraged me to blog about this experience.So I did. What’s next? I encourage anyone to take these ideas and implement them in their school during a faculty meeting, or even a class lesson. Use this blog, the pictures, the videos for anything you feel could continue to spread the message that you matter, because you do, and so do your students, parents, and staff members!

Thanks Angela!

For more information on you matter, please vist Angela Maiers’s website.

And the BAMMY goes to….


Courtesy of Kevin Jarrett

The Academy of Education Arts and Sciences held its inaugural gala event last night. Known as the Bammys, the purpose of the night was to create an atmosphere similar to other award shows, but the honorees, and award winners were all educators. I applaud the Academy for having the determination to roll out the red carpet for the people who are most dedicated to the future of society – educators!

I was able to attend the event as one of the Twitterati (a combination of a micro and macro-blogger). There were about 50 of us in attendance, and the top 20 were recognized on stage. Honestly, these folks who were recognized on stage were the absolute elite in the twitter and blogging world. It was a real tweet (I mean treat) meeting them in person!

In addition to the twitterari, the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences recognized the outstanding educators in categories as diverse as school nursing to maintenance director to teacher and principal. I was touched at the stories told about the nominees, and by the award winners. The Bammy statue that was distributed to the winners was quite magnificent. I was lucky enough to hold one at the after party, and it was very heavy!

In between awards, the attendees were treated to comedian and former teacher Jimmy Burns, author Taylor Mali and the the Washington Metropolitan Youth Orchestra.

Diane Ravitch being interviewed by @teachercast (Jeff Bradbury): Courtesy of Kevin Jarrett

At the conclusion of the event, Linda Darling-Hammond, John Merrow and Diane Ravitch received special honors for their distinguished lifetime achievements. Each lifetime achievement award winner gave a powerful acceptance speech on behalf of all of the students, teachers, and parents that make a difference in education everyday. John Merrow had one of the best lines of the night when he said, “Ask students how are you intelligent, not how intelligent are you?” They are all such inspiring educators, and I can only hope that one day I could grade the stage with such eloquence.

Eric Sheninger: courtesy of Kevin Jarrett

As a member of twitterati, I have to give special thanks to Eric Sheninger for his tireless commitment to assemble the largest gathering of education bloggers to date.


Want more information? Pictures? Podcasts? Check out Kevin Jarrett’s flickr site for pictures, and Jeff Bradbury’s teachercast site for live podcasting from the evening.


I also want to thank  all of the those from the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences, Council of Peers, and the sponsors who did a phenomenal job in coordinating the event.

And last, but certainly not least, you!

Is this what I signed up for?

Mrs. Lunemann has lead the charge to create a 21st century classroom within a welcoming, student-centered learning space

After everyone cleared out from another successful Back to School night, I sat in my office in amazement. Maybe it was part exhaustion, part reflection, but never mind all that. This had nothing to do with me. It had everything to do with my family.

See, when I started at RM Bacon Elementary about a year and half ago I was told of this theme: “Then, Now, Always Family.” I like themes, and see their importance played out on a daily basis. But there is something very different happening at my school. It’s not just a theme, its reality.

Everyone does Back To School Night, and so does our school, but we do it very differently. Well, I have to be honest, we do EVERYTHING differently! No matter if our teachers have one parent, or they have standing room only, they embody the principles of solid classroom instruction. Each session I went into last night had technology at the forefront. Smart boards, videos, blogs, interactive math and LAL lesson, sign ups for remind101.com, anything that is used during the day was on display last night! Not to mention the traditional “All About Me” posters, artwork, and messages to parents. Our teachers do it all!


A united front in 3rd grade!

Another thing that struck me, and I will go on record that I had nothing to do with, was the collaboration. Two of the grades decided to scrap the individual presentations, and worked collaboratively on grade level presentations. As a parent, I would have thought… united front! As a principal, I beamed.

Special area teachers, resource, and basic skills interventionists, were not to be outdone. They milled about the school talking with parents, assisting with anything that was needed, and made the parents feel welcome.

I received so many well wishes from excited parents. I can honestly say that they trust us with educating their children. We do not take that responsibility lightly. They asked about the upcoming activities, and many signed up for our Home and School Association.

Here was our Back To School Trailer:

This IS what I signed up for!

Opening Day in Real Time using Imovie Trailer

Using the Imovie trailer app on my ipad has allowed me to create an easy to use medium to document the amazing events happening at RM Bacon. As you may have seen from previous posts, we have had a lot of fun making  trailers this summer. The Extravaganza, This just in became internet sensations, and were completed in less time than it takes to watch a theatrical release (and a lot cheaper).

During my first staff meeting, I invited the teachers to make a trailer for Opening Day 2012. The first in this series (many more to be released soon) was from our 5th grade team. Here is their spoof on how they were paired together this summer with only 2 weeks before school was to begin.

During the second day of staff development, we simply ran out of time to do another trailer. So, we challenged ourselves. Our idea was to film the parents and students arriving for Opening Day, and then play it minutes later at the assembly. Since our “Red Carpet Welcome Back Theme” fit so well with the trailers, and we were able to get a real red carpet, we gave it a try. Here is what we were able to show the parents just minutes after “making” the trailer. Truly amazing!

I plan to do a whole separate post about the Opening Day 2012, and to thank everyone who assisted with making it a reality. I would like to specially thank my music teacher, Leigh Simpson, who’s creativity and determination to make the red carpet a reality for our students!

Ipad movie trailers are easy, fun, and allow you the ability to put something of professional quality in a matter of minutes.


#RM Bacon is doing the Impossible!

 As I sit here, alone in my school on the eve of the 2012-13 school year I had a thought, a connection, and I was inspired! (If you want to hear the song I was listening to, go to the end of the post)

Bright colors, appealing environment

I took one more walk around the building and something hit me – like a ton of bricks….

A chair, a storage container, a really great idea!

RM Bacon is really doing the impossible! (Our theme this year is Impossible is Nothing!)

Student desks are so last century!

I am not sure where it started, or when, but there has been a transformation in the learning spaces of the school.

Bloom’s Pyramid

Some teachers had to give up their space, some had to update because of changes in enrollment, and all of the teachers maintained a positive outlook!

Resource Room teachers completely redesigned their learning space


Teachers, armed with fresh ideas gathered from facebook, pintrest, and twitter have redesigned their learning spaces, and paid attention to the most special detail – our message!

Love how the painted on chalckboard compliments the traditional wooden closet

After my walk, I felt the emergence of 3 major themes: Classroom Instruction that Works Strategies along with Bloom’s Taxonomy, Positive Behavioral Intervention Support (PBIS), and the Daily 5.

Who has focus on CITWS?

Wow, as if they all collaborated with each other?

Self taught Daily 5

This newness spread throughout the school in a collective fashion that is sending the students messages of hope, understanding, and accountability.

We are World Class!

A place where they will do the impossible, in a purposeful, collaborative environment.

Gandy’s pond with critters inside

I was so impressed! I had to blog about how awesome the teachers are here at RM Bacon Elementary.

Who wouldn’t want to go to read with the teacher?

This is truly a world-class school, in a world class district!


Are you going to sink or swim?


These are just some of the many examples that I found on the eve of 2012-13 school year… Where Impossible is Nothing!


You Matter at #RMBACON!


 Thank you teachers!

Lots of movement, new second grade class!

This was the song I was listening to when I thought about this post: