New Year’s Resolutions

Hello, Vikings.

We’ve turned the calendar to 2014. Happy New Year!

Around this time of year, many people make “New Year’s Resolutions.” Usually, they’re pretty generic goals for self-improvement: eat better, exercise more, focus on my work, be a better person. Unfortunately, the initial excitement of setting a New Year’s Resolution usually fades by Valentine’s Day, and we’re left living pretty much the same way we were before.

So I propose this: Let’s set meaningful GOALS instead. A key learning I picked up a while back is this: “If you think it’s time for a fresh start, you’re probably right.” What does that mean? Simply, if there’s something you’d like to change or improve about your life, DO IT.

Don’t wait for a new year. There’s no better time than RIGHT NOW to start living a healthier, happier life. So set a goal and follow these steps:

1. Be specific (if you want better grades, say this: “I’d like to earn a 3.5 GPA next semester”)
2. Write it down (this will help you commit to it)
3. Share it with someone else (this will help hold you accountable to it)
4. Add specific steps (for example, “I will turn in every assignment on time” and “I will ask my teacher for help if I’m ever confused” and “I will study and do my homework BEFORE hanging out or texting or tweeting or instagramming”)
5. Check on your progress at LEAST once a week, maybe even every day.

When you’ve set your goals, go ahead and post ‘em here. We’ll all help keep you accountable! What are YOUR goals for 2014?

-Mr. Hall


Awards and Motivation

Hello, Vikings.

This week, we held our Awards Celebrations for Quarter 1. We celebrated students who have made Learning the priority by attending to the ABCs:

A = Attendance
B = Behavior
C = Coursework

I was very impressed with the number of students that we called up to award certificates and recognition for their hard work, great attitude, and consistent attendance!

We had over 100 students on the Honor Roll. There were over 20 students that had 100% attendance. We had 430 students who made it through the entire first quarter without a single discipline referral. Amazing!

My question: What are YOU prepared to do to increase those numbers during the 2nd quarter? Each of you has the opportunity to earn any of those awards. Each of you has the opportunity to improve. Each of you has the opportunity to make a difference.

Have a great day,

Mr. Hall


All About Learning: No Bullying Here

Hello, Vikings.

October is bullying awareness month. Are you aware that there is bullying happening in our school? So am I. Let’s do something about it.

Our job is to make sure that every child learns as much as possible – so every young person is ready for life’s choices later on. We’re calling that goal “T-2-4,” which stands for Technical education, a 2-year college, or a 4-year university after high school.

One of the things that gets in the way of that goal is bullying.

What should we do to eliminate bullying at our school?

Work hard, be nice. If more people were just working hard and being nice to each other, we’d have less bullying. It’s easier to be nice to people when you respect them and agree that you’ve got the same goals. That’s where UNITY comes in. We’re all in this together. Let’s support each other.

Educate. The more we know about bullying, and what to do when someone is bullying someone else, the better equipped we’ll be to stop it. That’s why we’re having a couple of concert-assemblies this week: to spread the word about what bullying is and how to stop it.

Become a community of Reactors. Reactors are the 4th person in a bullying scenario, along with the Bully, the Victim, and the Bystander. The Reactor takes a stand, reports the incident, and refuses to allow the bullying to continue. If we all become Reactors and stand up to bullying, there will be no one left to bully!

Ask the kids. Adults frequently think they’ve got all the answers. We don’t! We’d like to hear from you.

How can we make Shaw a safer place?

How can we eliminate bullying at our school and in our neighborhood?

Post your ideas on this blog, and we’ll continue the conversation. I personally respond to every student that posts. Let’s talk.

-Mr. Hall


Shaw’s Mission and our CORE VALUES

Hello, Vikings,

Over the past couple of days, all our 8th graders and all our 7th graders learned about (through speakers and some pretty cool videos) the CORE VALUES that are included in Shaw Middle School’s mission statement. The mission statement reads like this:

“In accordance with our core values of Commitment, Grit, Hope, Loyalty, and Unity, Shaw Middle School, along with our community, strives to nurture and empower learners, inspiring them to become self-sufficient, positive citizens who are optimistic about their future.”

Students, in their advisory (Home Base) teams, then created drafts of icons to represent each of the CORE VALUES. It was a pretty sweet activity and I think we’ve created some great work. Later this week, we’ll vote for our favorites and have them posted in the hallways and on our website.

Here are the CORE VALUES, a guiding question to make you think, and a link to each video we used:

COMMITMENT: How are we willing to demonstrate that we’re all-in? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdvAGBRaLuw

GRIT: What are we willing to do to overcome adversity? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwsZZ2rprqc

HOPE: How are we willing to push ourselves towards a brighter future? http://vimeo.com/73158773

LOYALTY: How are we willing to band together to support our mission? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOZc9Ri_Rp4

UNITY: How are we demonstrating that we’re all in this together? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgvBae4AWvk

Let me know your thoughts, and I promise I’ll write back!

-Mr. Hall


Community Service is alive and well in Hillyard!

Hello, Vikings.

This weekend, hundreds and hundreds of our neighbors in the Hillyard community gathered together in the annual “Hillyard Clean-up Event.” You may have participated, heard about it, or seen the dumpsters filling our parking lot on Saturday, and it was awesome!

Many of our own Shaw Vikings were there, cleaning up the area around the school (especially that nasty corner behind the tennis courts), helping on campus, and even going out with teams into the neighborhood. They collected trash, pruned trees, raked, and carried junk back to the dumpsters for our neighbors.

It only took a couple of hours, and then the neighborhood was cleaner and happier than it was before! Our Vikings got free t-shirts to commemmorate the event, too. Mr. Wicks made a video, check it out:

If you participated, thank you. If you didn’t, we’ll see you out there next year!!

- Mr. Hall


State testing: friend or foe?

Hello, Vikings.

This past week, we started our annual State testing. We call it the MSP. MSP stands for the Measurement of Student Progress. We give this test every year to Measure how much Progress each of our Students has made.

Some say the testing is disruptive to the school environment, taking away time to teach and learn. Others say it’s important to collect the data so we know how to better help our students learn. There are lots of opinions on both sides of this argument.

What do YOU think? What are the benefits to testing every student every year on that student’s grade-level standards? What problems arise? Are the benefits worth the costs?

Let me know what you think!

-Mr. Hall


Every day, closer to a bully-free school

Hello, Vikings.

How about a hand for the Reactor Club leadership team?

Over the past two weeks, this student-led group has performed assemblies for both the 7th graders and 8th graders to spread the message: Bullying is NOT OK at our school, and we’re going to work together to stop it!

The Reactor Club is made up of 12 8th-graders and 12 7th-graders. They shared the definitions of Bully, Victim, Bystander, and Reactor, they shared some stories about bullying, and they invited their peers to join them on the gym floor as a show of force against bullying!

At lunch, they led a Reactor drive that has resulted in over 300 Shaw students pledging to be a Reactor if and when they know about a bullying (or other unsafe) situation.

The students are leading this charge. They’ve decided they want this to be a safe school – and it can be a safe school if we’re all willing to work together to make it safe!

Can we get 600 Reactors signed up this year? Every year?

-Mr. Hall


The Value of Being on Time

Hello, Vikings.

We teach a lot of things in our school: reading, writing, math, science, music, art, fitness, and a host of other subjects. You’ll find those on your report cards.

In addition to those, we teach other skills that you won’t find on your report card: responsibility, kindness, service, integrity, and a slew of other characteristics that help you to become a successful person.

What about being on time? That’s an important skill. For grown-ups, job shifts start at a specified time. Movies start on time. Appointments are set for specific times. People rely on each other to be there when they said they’d be there. Timeliness matters.

So, in the middle school, we teach you to be on time. We teach you how to manage your free time so you can be on time. We teach you a little bit about what happens when you’re not on time.

This is something the teachers are really look at closely right now. So please help us: WHY are students sometimes arriving late to class? WHY are students sometimes arriving late to school? What’s getting in the way? What are students making more important than being on time?

If we can better understand the root causes of tardies, for instance, we can better design a plan to help teach our kids to get there on time! (Please help!)

-Mr. Hall


REACTOR leadership invitation

Hello, Vikings.

As I mentioned at lunch today, we’ve got an 8th-grade leadership team for our Reactors Club. They’ve been working hard to recruit students and adults to pledge to be Reactors, to take a stand against bullying, and to encourage a friendly, cooperative environment.

Now it’s time to add a 7th-grade leadership team. If you’re interested, let me know ASAP! I’ve got 9 students signed up so far. We’ll be getting together off & on throughout the year, running an assembly, making a video, and engaging in different activities to spread the “anti-bullying” message.

Let’s work together to reduce bullying at our great school, and to confront it when it happens. We can do this together!

Have a great day,

Mr. Hall


The Giver – wow, what a book!

Hello, Vikings.

I’m currently reading “The Giver” for the first time. So are most of you 8th graders. It should be ALL of you 8th graders! If you’re not reading along, you’re missing out.

One of the big topics that the author brings up is that of “sameness.” While the children are acknowledged for their strengths and interests, the society seems to believe that it’s safer and calmer if everything generally remains the same. There’s an expression for that: STATUS QUO. Look it up.

What do you think? Should people have choices in their lives? Are choices good, or are they dangerous? Could a choice be BOTH (good AND dangerous)? What would your life be like if you DIDN’T have choices?

Share your thoughts. I love this book!

-Mr. Hall