All posts by Amanda Walma (Kent ISD)

As the Professional Development Coordinator for Kent ISD, I help to provide professional learning opportunities, that are aligned to the school improvement framework, to all educators. We created The Bulletin to keeping educators informed about the hottest topics in education and upcoming professional learning opportunities. We offer Learning On Demand, so that you can access learning from your computer at anytime/anywhere and Learning To Go so that you can bring many of our most popular workshops directly to your school. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you or your district.

Retain Talented Educators in Your District

We know what great teaching looks like- dedication, continuous improvement, care for their students’ needs, etc.  But, do we know what great teachers look like?

Does your school and district consciously recognize great teachers, as a means of honoring them, for the great work they do? Does the public know who those great teachers are?

More than a certificate and a handshake, a well-designed teacher recognition program can complement other essential work in your school and district. Schools should think bigger than offering recognition at staff meetings. Include the community at large, so they can share in their local schools’ pride, by recognizing educators at athletic or other events. Continue reading Retain Talented Educators in Your District

Innovative Educator Corps Grant Application

Kent ISD Grants Blog

Calling all innovative educators! The Michigan Department of Education just announced a new grant opportunity with a very short turnaround time, due Nov. 16th by midnight! LEAs may nominate one teacher to apply. IEC teachers will receive a $5,000 stipend and an additional $5,000 to replicate or expand an innovative program.

Below is an excerpt from MDE’s memo:  https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/IEC_Grant_App_637504_7.pdf

 The IEC is a new recognition program for Michigan teachers who employ an innovative educational program, methodology, or strategy to help prepare their students for future career success. The IEC is a competitive application resulting in a $5,000 stipend, paid annually for up to three total years, along with an additional $5,000 stipend, also renewable for up to three total years, which will cover expenses related to the IEC member replicating, disseminating, or expanding the innovative program.

Each local education agency (LEA) may nominate one teacher to apply to the IEC…

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Build it and they will come!

Has anybody been around cinema long enough to remember a couple of the famous lines from Kevin Costner’s 1989 film, A Field of Dreams: “build it, and he will come” or “go the distance”? Now I have to admit, the film I automatically think of when I hear Kevin Costner’s name is “The Bodyguard.” Blame it on the soundtrack, but I digress – tee hee hee!

Kevin Costner’s character in A Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsella, was practically mocked, ridiculed; and he almost went for broke for building a baseball field on land that had historically been used for farming – something predictable and something that upheld current social patterns. Perceptions, relationships and other variables were immediately strained, as Ray felt compelled to transform the land and eventually the hearts of the people in his community. Why would Ray change what on some level was working? The land was familiar, traditional and it just “fit” into the existing community, expectations and cultural patterns. Continue reading Build it and they will come!

Individuals First, Learners Second

It’s the beginning to a new school year. As you start the year take into consideration this mind-blowing fact.

Did you know that the term “didaskaleinophobia” is the acute fear of going to school? And, that it affects about 2.4% of all children?

I bet you didn’t know that, or are asking yourself why I bring that up? Well, I believe it is fair to say that most students have a sense of anxiety, nervousness, or a feeling of unexpected emotions that arise from going to school each day. Although these feelings may not all be considered “fears”, they are emotions that need to be controlled and tended to in order to give a sense of comfort and focused mind to learning. When we, as teachers, understand our students as individuals first and learners second, we are more inclined to make their experience within the classroom both productive and focused to their goals and success. Continue reading Individuals First, Learners Second

Which tech tools are worth your time and money?

Dear technology tool, you’ve changed. Frankly, you don’t do what you promised you would. My friends say I try someone with more features and a more attractive design. I’m sorry, but we’re done. Mrs. TeacherDo you find yourself perpetually breaking up with your educational technology tools or not even sure that they are worth the investment? Let me share a perspective that may help you determine which tools are worth your time, money and energy.

The Triple E Framework, developed out of University of Michigan by Dr. Liz Kolb, is a simple to use framework that may help you quickly identify what a technology tool can bring to your lessons. Dr. Kolb synthesized current technology and learning research into three E’s: Engage, Enhance and Extend. If I could sum up Dr. Kolb’s work into one statement, it would be this: Continue reading Which tech tools are worth your time and money?

Resiliency isn’t just for students

Written by Patricia Ward, Mindful Schools

Everyone can agree that stress levels in schools are at an all-time high, not just for students but for teachers and staff as well. A promising practice that is being used in schools all over the world and right here in the Grand Rapids area is Mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the new ‘running’ for health and wellness. Twenty years ago, if someone said ‘I’m going out for a run’ you would want to know what they are running from. Today, people know running (or walking) is one way we take care of our physical and mental health. Thirty years ago, Mindfulness was an intervention used primarily with adults that were suffering from stress, chronic pain or depression. Today it is being integrated into schools all over the world to help students with attention, emotional regulation and empathy for self and others.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention — to thoughts, physical sensations, and the environment — without constantly feeling the need to judge what’s happening or to make it other than it is. Mindfulness is a way of meeting our experience with the presence of mind to respond skillfully to life’s challenges, rather than reacting based on intense emotions. Continue reading Resiliency isn’t just for students

Strive for Less Than 5!

written by Ron Koehler

School districts across Kent ISD are teaming together to deliver a common message to all students, to their families and the community at large:  Strive for Less Than 5 days absent.

You should soon be seeing yard signs, posters and this Strive for Less Than 5 video to spread the message that students who miss five or fewer days of school a year perform better than those who miss school on a regular basis.

The data for students who are chronically absent is clear:  Students who miss more than 10 percent of school time, just two days a month, are far less likely to be proficient than their peers who regularly attend school. Continue reading Strive for Less Than 5!

Dr. David Kilpatrick Presents on Overcoming Reading Difficulties

“Individuals with reading problems commonly display difficulties in both phonic decoding and instant word retrieval. Phonic decoding and orthographic mapping are so central to the development of proficient reading that research on both of these word-level reading process should drive our assessments, instructional practices, and intervention efforts.” (1)

On September 19th, Dr. Kilpatrick will be presenting (based on his book) to literacy coaches, reading specialists, curriculum directors, and special education directors at the Prince Center at Calvin College.

The presentation will focus on how children learn to read words and why some children struggle. Understanding the nature of word-level reading development and word-level reading problems will guide both assessment and intervention. Continue reading Dr. David Kilpatrick Presents on Overcoming Reading Difficulties

Peer to Peer Participants Enjoy Whitecaps Win

Students from Grandville, Caledonia, Kenowa Hills and Kentwood who participate in their districts’ Peer to Peer programs went to a Whitecaps baseball game to enjoy friendship and some summer camaraderie. The Cap’s were victorious and a wonderful time was had by all. The annual outing is supported by a special grant from START, Statewide Autism Resource and Training and Kent CAN (Collaborative Autism Network). Continue reading Peer to Peer Participants Enjoy Whitecaps Win

2018/2019 PD Plan is LIVE

It is that time of year again. The students (and teachers) are starting to get excited for summer break. The days are getting longer and the weather warmer. And, we are starting to plan for next school year.

Click here to view the current Professional Learning Plan for 2018/2019 school year! 

Before we start to plan for the future, it is sometimes nice to reflect on where we have been.  Recently, I gathered some data from the past five years of professional learning offered at Kent ISD to see how our organization has evolved to meet the ever changing needs of our local education agencies. Continue reading 2018/2019 PD Plan is LIVE