Measure twice, cut twenty times.

Update Oct 26-30

Home improvement projects have the potential to bring out the very best or very worst in people, me included.

We are redoing the treads on our stairs leading to the second floor.  A “tread” is the actual step you walk on as you go up or down the stairs.

My father-in-law and I worked together to prep the old steps for the new retro treads that will be going over top of it.  

Actually I just assisted my father-in-law because I evaluated my own skill set and knew from many other experiences that I didn’t have the skills required to go solo.

I won’t go into details about the project, but I will say that it involves a lot of measuring, sawing, sanding, power tools and more sawing.

Steps before we add the new treads.

One thing I appreciate about working on project with pops-in-law is that he is patient when it comes to measuring — He measures everything many times before making a cut.  

Again, this is where he shines and I typically falter because I measure once and then justify it with “No one will notice except me — and probably my wife. But I can live with that.”

We finally got to the end of one part of the project – Turning a 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood into 15 individual 6″ risers (That’s the front of the step).  

We were working hard on figuring out the math because we were down to the cutting the last two.  Many calculations and conversions of decimals to fractions later and we did it!  Mission accomplished!

As Larry (father-in-law) went to check the last cut against the actual place we were going to be placing it, he realized something.  

Something horribly wrong.

We had done everything wrong.

Every single riser was cut 1/2″ wider than we needed them to be.

It’s too complicated to explain how this happened, just know that neither one of us intended on spending 5 hours doing something wrong.

So this is where “pressing pause” and slowing down to think of solutions instead of the problem came into play.

We teachers are faced with dealing with the unexpected every single day.  I secretly laugh at myself but mostly at others when we are surprised that things don’t go the way we planned them to go. 

We really ought to know after, let’s say, I don’t know, our second or third day of teaching that unplanned events will probably happen every single day of teaching.

Instead of being surprised, we should expect the unexpected and plan for how we will respond to help keep things moving forward when the unexpected happens.

“Pressing pause” and planning for the events we don’t expect to happen, but usually do if we are working in schools, are just two concepts I’ve had the great fortune to reflect upon because of a leadership training I was able to attend.

The training was provided by Tim Kight’s Focus 3 organization who explained how the “R-Factor” can help all of us navigate life and work in ways that produce great results.  

Our lives are filled with events, some expected and many that are unexpected.  How we choose to respond to these events will generate certain outcomes.  If we want a certain outcome, then we are going to have to respond in a certain way.

I am looking forward to sharing this with you all soon — I believe it is an approach that will help you get the results you desire in your life and at school.

Back to the project — Larry and I both pressed pause and brainstormed some ways we might be able to fix our mistake.

My daughter asked me earlier this evening if I was mad about what happened.  I said, “Nope!”.

When she asked why not, I said, “Because I know we can fix it.”

Have a GREAT week!


Articles Worth Reading —

Your Brain Is Primed To Reach False Conclusions

Lady Gaga and the Life of Passion

Math and Inquiry: The Importance of Letting Students Stumble

Can You KenKen?

More on Text Levels: Confronting the Issues | Lesley University Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative

Video Worth Watching —

Favorite line — “Quotations: The karaoke of ideas.”  Being misquoted stinks.  Take away — When you think you “heard” what someone else said, try to go straight to the source and get clarification. 

Upcoming Dates

**Make sure you are checking out the Progress Report timeline information that is on TAC.  See Joanne if you have questions. Start planning now!

10/26– 6:00 p.m. STATE OF THE SCHOOLS ADDRESS at Bradley HS
10/29 — CRAZY HAT DAY!

11/2–7:00 p.m. PTO meeting
11/3–Election Day–District Staff report ONLY–NO SCHOOL for students.
11/4 — Staff Meeting, 8am in the Media Center, KG Data Team Meeting, AM 1/2-day
11/5 — Steering Committee Meeting, PM
11/6 — School Board Building Tour. AM before school
11/10 — 1st Grade Data Team meeting  — All day
11/11 — Veteran’s Day — 2nd Grade Data Team Meeting — All day; 3:30 — IAT Team Meeting
11/12 — 3rd Grade Data Team Meeting — All day; 3:45 — Donna Farland-Smith PD: “Making Math Personalized”, DCR Media Center
11/17 — Team Connection Time w/ Herb — Let me know if you are interested!  I will be available.
11/18 — 4th Grade Data Team — All Day; 3:40 – Steering Committee Meeting, ADE Media Center
11/19 — 5th Grade Data Team Meeting, All Day

Change As Simple As Returning To Our Roots

Update for Oct 19-23
From Wikipedia; Labeled for Resue

Allison Zmuda’s message in the video below is timely for me — When it comes to change, staying focused on how students learn helps us continue to change and grow.

Zmuda cautions us not to focus on the “pace of change” but instead to stay focused on the simplicity of the learning experience.  

She reminds us that powerful learning experiences are just a few key ingredients such as co-creation of learning with students, meaningful feedback to students, and providing the opportunities for students to share new learning with a broad audience so that they can “change the world one problem, one question, one task at a time”.

Zmuda’s message makes me think of how important it is to return to our roots — Return to the purpose of why we are doing what we are doing.

For us, it’s remembering that we believe students learn best through inquiry and when they are our partners in learning.

It means remembering that we value feedback- student to student, teacher to student, and student to teacher.

It means remembering to build units of study around enduring understandings — Essential truths and understandings that students will remember for the rest of their lives.  

Furthermore, an article in KQED News’s Mind/Shift blog explains Will Richardson’s call for a “third narrative” in school reform. Take a look at an excerpt where Richardson describes what he thinks the third narrative should focus on:

What if we were to return to consistently using an inquiry-based approach to learning and connecting what we have learned along the way? How could we grow those roots?

If we were to return our focus to our roots of inquiry-based learning experiences, and then grow those roots deeper, we could support one strong and durable tree.

Have a GREAT week!


Videos Worth Seeing —

Adventure Time! —

You’ll need to get ready for some tears for this one, especially if you’ve ever had a dog as a pet. — (Shared by George Couros):

Articles Worth Reading —

Lessons that Matter: What should we learn from Asia’s school systems?’s-school-systems/

Math At Home Adds Up to Achievement At School

The partnership side of leadership

Upcoming Events

10/21–ADDC Staff Meeting @DCR, 3:45
10/23 — ADE Staff Meeting with Dr. M, 8:00am.  Preschool Staff will join us in the Media Center
10/26 — Yearbook Cover Contest Begins (Ends Nov 6)
10/26–6:00 p.m. STATE OF THE SCHOOLS ADDRESS at Bradley HS
10/28 — IAT Team Meeting, 3:30
10/28 — Superintendent Advisory Committee Meeting, 4pm
10/29 — CRAZY HAT DAY!

11/2–7:00 p.m. PTO meeting
11/3–Election Day–Hilliard U Day — District Staff report ONLY–NO SCHOOL for students.

Guest Post: Reflecting on having my hopes too high

Update for Oct 12-16

This week’s guest post is by Terri Root, Music Teacher at Alton Darby Elementary.
Labeled for Reuse

In 2008 I became convinced that I was going to win the HGTV Dream House.
I put all my energy toward entering the contest twice a day and envisioning myself in the house. I just knew that this was my new house and that I was going to win. It was another long, dark winter in Ohio and I allowed myself to set the “hope” bar too high.
Well, as many of you know, I did not win the HGTV Dream House that year and I threw myself a pretty awesome pity party. I was shocked at how utterly devastated I was. I got so angry that I let myself get so wrapped up in the dream of a new house, but I was even more angry at that witch who was living in my house. It took a while for me to process and I have never played again.
This weekend I have found myself in a similar situation of setting my hope bar too high again. I few weeks ago I received an e-mail from a Disney friend of mine. I have never met her in person, our relationship has always been via phone conversation and e-mail, but she is someone I always look forward to talking to, she is a dear, dear person. I had not heard from her in a while and this is just a portion of the email she sent me:

…I am not sure I have shared this with you yet, but John has been in full kidney failure for 18 months (he had staved it off for years with diet and exercise but it was inevitable we knew for about the last 10-12 years) so he has been on the University of Pennsylvania Transplant kidney donor waiting list since then, living on dialysis 3 times a week and working full time. That makes him my hero by the way! It is a pretty brutal life to lead for 20 months now and no quick end in sight, his blood type can have him on the transplant list for 5-6 years, and he was just 20 months in when he was suspended when they found the cancer – heartbreaking at the time. Unless an altruistic donor volunteers to give a living kidney he needs to wait the whole time on that list, every day is precious.

I asked her for more information and to make a long story, short I offered one my kidneys to John.
I spoke about it to a few people. I envisioned myself at the hospital, I really don’t like hospitals so that took some work. I did research on what to expect as an organ donor and I was surprised at the small amount of recovery for a kidney donation. I filled out the paperwork and faxed it to the hospital.  I even thought about giving someone else my kidney if they had someone who could give John a kidney. I was so very ready, when, on Friday, I received a phone call from the hospital that not only was I not a match, but I could not donate any of my organs due to my preexisting medical conditions. To say that I am disappointed is quite an understatement, but let me first tell you the ending to my HGTV Dream House story.
After the HGTV contest, I was mad for a few days (or maybe weeks). Then I had a “come to Jesus” moment with myself. This line of questioning lead me to look at my life from a different angle and began the on me on the journey to finding my current house. This house is indeed my dream home – where we are surrounded my loving friends for Tom and I and the girls… I could not have hoped for a better home.
Or could I? I wonder now if maybe setting my hope bar “too” high was exactly what I needed to do.
So as I find myself feeling this way again, I wonder if I look at my life from a different angle that maybe there is still a way that John could get what he needs, maybe 2016 is John’s year.
Tom and I are so very fortunate to know so many awesome people. Maybe WE can help a family who has helped so many other families.
Please consider filling out the organ donor form for John or passing on this request to someone you know who might consider giving the best gift that you can give.
I am setting my hopes very high, and I hope you do too.

If you are interested in kidney donation, here’s a link to a questionnaire —

Must See Videos — Spotlight on INQUIRY!

This commercial was on this weekend and I had to share it!  We must…MUST create learning experiences where students are learning through inquiry and guided by essential questions.

More inquiry! Love the ownership of learning! Our job is to pose the right questions and then get out of the way! If we are talking more than kids during the day, then we are getting in the way of learning.

Articles Worth Reading –

Inquiry-Based Learning: The Power of Asking the Right Questions | Edutopia

Can Free Play Prevent Depression and Anxiety In Kids?

Never Too Late: Creating a Climate for Adults to Learn New Skills

Check out some of the pics from the Cardboard Challenge!

Upcoming Dates

·         Thurs., Oct. 15                        Last Day for Box Top and Campbell Soup Labels Competition

THURSDAY, Oct 15 — Professional Development Series by Donna Farland-Smith Continues! — “Engaging Boy Readers” — 3:30-4:30 at ADE Media Center
·         Fri., Oct. 16                             No School – Central Ohio In-Service (COI) Day for Teachers
·         Tues., Oct. 20                         Vision and Hearing Screenings of all 3rd and 5th Graders
·         Tues., Oct. 20                         PTO Spirit Night at Firehouse Subs
·         Tues., Oct. 20                         Meet the School Board Candidates Night, 7:00 pm at Bradley H.S.
·         Mon., Oct. 26                          State of Schools 6:30 – 9:00 pm @ Bradley H.S.
·         Tues., Oct. 27                         State of Schools 6:30 – 9:00 pm @ Davidson H.S.
·         Weds., Oct. 28                        State of Schools 6:30 – 9:00 pm @ Darby H.S.
·         Thurs., Oct. 29                       Trick or Treat Night in Hilliard, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
·         Sun., Nov. 1                            Daylight Savings Time Ends.  Set Your Clocks Back 1 Hour
·         Mon., Nov. 2                           PTO Monthly Meeting at 7:00 pm
·         Tues., Nov. 3                          No School – Professional Development Waiver Day
·         Tues., Nov. 3                          Election Day – Please remember to vote!
·         Thurs., Nov. 5                         Parent Workshop on Social Media, 6:30 – 8:00 pm at Darby H.S.
·         Tues., Nov. 10                        School Picture Re-Takes

Being Comfortable with "Stuck"

Update for Oct 5-9

When I started writing this update, I was stuck.  I didn’t know what to write or what the focus would be this week.  I thought about the topics I had written about already – culture, learning, shared vision – but was still stuck.

So I just went with it.

We go through each day at school as prepared as possible and ready to make decisions on the fly.  A website called claims teachers make 1,500 decisions each day.  I think that’s a low estimate — 27 to 30 students, a litany standards, and schedules all demand fast decision-making. Thankfully, it’s a skill that is strong with most teachers.

But there are times when we are just stuck. 

We don’t know what to do yet and we have that uncomfortable feeling of ineptitude.

That feeling of not being able to do something is just part of being stuck – It comes with the process of learning.

The good thing about being stuck is that we get the opportunity to grow and get stronger through the process of getting unstuck. 

Figuring out how to proceed often leads to collaboration, reflection, investigation and seeking clarity. Those are pretty remarkable outcomes from not knowing what to do next.

So the next time I am stuck, I am going to remember that it’s part of learning.  We don’t have all the answers (I doubt we ever will).  But accepting that getting “stuck” is part of learning will help us be more comfortable when we don’t know what to do next.

Have a great week!


Articles that pushed my thinking —

Leadership is a Choice

Three Things We Need To Remember When We All Hit “The Dark Side”

Learner-Centered Vision Will Frame Next Generation Learning

Innovation… Just like your mama used to make:

Video that made me chuckle —

Upcoming Dates

Oct 5-9 — Fall Conference Week, Conference Night is Oct 7.

Oct 5 — PTO General Meeting, 7pm

Oct 6 — Building Improvement Team meeting, 8am; I-Time Begins!

Oct 9 — Fire Prevention assemblies (See email); Interims due if no P/T Conference

Oct 10 — Community Cardboard Challenge, Heritage Middle School, 9-12pm

Oct 14 — IAT Team meeting, 3:30

Oct 16 — COI Day, No School for Students

Oct 23 — Staff Meeting w/ Dr. John

Oct 26 — Yearbook Cover Contest begins / State of the Schools @ Bradley H.S.

Oct 28 — IAT Team meeting, 3:30

Nov 2 — PTO Meeting, 7pm

Nov 3 — Hilliard U Day, No School for Students

Nov 5 — Steering Committee Meeting in PM at CO

Nov 6 — Board Building Tour, AM before school