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.

Math Educators Unite to Create Conceptual Change

In a world that is full of instantaneous responses via “commenting” on Facebook, “retweeting” on Twitter and “liking on Instagram, how might we as educators take time to slow down and measure the impact we are having on students?   How might we cross over district lines to collaborate and innovate? In what ways might we interrupt our thinking to meet the needs of all learners?

Michigan Math Educators (#MichME) is a professional learning network with over 250 educators from across eight different counties who continue to investigate, learn, and grapple with those questions. We focus this year’s learning on the impact that our identity, values, beliefs, capabilities, behaviors, and skills, have on our students’ identities, values, beliefs, capabilities, behaviors and skills. Continue reading Math Educators Unite to Create Conceptual Change

Small Wins for Growing Habits and Skills with Diverse Learners

Let’s be real. One of the hardest things for people to do is build a new habit. It takes commitment, focus, drive, and a constant reminder or way to trigger that action. In the learning environment habits play an equally important role as mastering curriculum. For many students habits may come naturally and become part of a routine – something they don’t even think about or focus on…they just do it.

For students with learning disabilities, habits of mind do not come easily – making learning even more complicated due to this missing ingredient. On top of the deficits that come into play for students with learning disabilities, such as, retaining information, processing, skill performance, and executive functioning, building a new habit demands a plan of action and the support of teachers. In the end, when students with learning disabilities take an opportunity to build a habit, they will be more inclined to improve their academic performance, skills, and most importantly, confidence. Continue reading Small Wins for Growing Habits and Skills with Diverse Learners

New School Counselor Professional Learning Legislation

New legislation that goes into effect on February 6, 2020 will greatly impact the work of school counselors across the state. The lack of professional development opportunities specific to them will be a pressing concern.

The criteria of MCL 380.1233 (7-9) will require all stakeholders with a school counselor license (SCL) or a teaching certificate with the school counselor (NT) endorsement to attain 50 hours of professional development specific to college and career readiness.

Of those fifty hours of professional development, 25 hours need to be focused on college preparation and selection, and the other 25 hours need to be around career consultation (with 5 of those hours focused on exploration of military career options).

The College and Career Readiness department at Kent ISD is aware of our area counselors’ concerns around the lack of professional learning specific to their work. We are working hard to clearly identify and promote opportunities to assist school counselors in the renewal of their certificates. A combination of programs already offered by Kent ISD, in addition to newer planned opportunities, will help facilitate the professional learning counselors throughout Kent ISD are yearning for.

Current programs offered by Kent ISD Career Readiness staff, such as the “Teachers in Industry” program, already offer SCECH hours for participants and fit naturally within the requirements of the new law.

We are working on ways to offer SCECH hours for our “Talk & Tour” series, as well as the “Fall Update” and “Spring Enrollment Breakfasts” hosted at Kent Career Technical Center. These programs already work to fill the bucket of needs counselors have in meaningful ways to support their students.

The Career Readiness department is also in the process of developing additional learning opportunities. This could include education development plans (EDPs), Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF) training, talent transcripts, and other college, career, and military options for counselors through both in-person and online formats. Kent ISD has heard the needs of our hard working counselors and is working to get ahead of the curve in leading their learning while satisfying the requirements of the new legislation.

If you would like to see upcoming courses that are offered for this credit, click here. Please continue to check back for additional offerings to be added in the new year!

This blog post was written by Gerry Verwey, Career Readiness Consultant at Kent ISD and edited by Amanda Walma, Professional Learning Coordinator for Kent ISD.

Town halls give residents chance to weigh in on next superintendent

Written by: Charles Honey, for School News Network on Nov. 20, 2018

Residents have two more opportunities to have input on the next superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS). Town hall meetings started on Monday, Nov. 26 and will be held through Monday, Dec. 3. These meetings are for people to share their thoughts on the characteristics they’d like to see in the next GRPS Superintendent to succeed Teresa Weatherall Neal, who will retire at the end of June 2019.

The next two meetings are scheduled from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Thursday, Nov. 29 at Gerald R. Ford Academic Center, 851 Madison Ave SE
  • Monday, Dec. 3 at City High Middle (1720 Plainfield Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505)

People unable to attend or who would like to contribute additional thoughts are invited to provide their input online. Continue reading Town halls give residents chance to weigh in on next superintendent

Top Educational Gift Ideas (Updated for 2018)

It is the gift giving season! What gifts can you give a child to ignite learning? 

I have found with my children that the right toys inspire learning. So together, with other Kent ISD consultants and parents, I have populated a list of educational gifts that we have seen engage our children and students.

I have categorized the ideas, but many of these really could fit into more than one category. I encourage you to read through each list. Please share with other educators and parents! Continue reading Top Educational Gift Ideas (Updated for 2018)

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:

 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?