School Board Meetings
During the course of this internship, I attended monthly school board meetings. Meetings were held a the various district buildings, with the principal of that building hosting and providing a special brief showcase of programs or events at that building. Meetings all followed a consistent structure and format and were always calm and orderly. During each meeting two opportunities for the public to speak were offered, although at only two of the meetings did anyone use that opportunity. Most meetings were of about one hour or so in length and the meetings that lasted longer were usually due to the building showcase, or other presentations that took more time. Minutes for the 2010 - 2011 school board meetings can be found here.
It was clear that most work was done in the various committees prior to the public monthly meeting of the entire school board. One of the difficult decisions the board must make this year is whether or not to continue the all-day, everyday Kindergarten program that was begun two years ago. The board initially committed to all day programming for two years, and then reevaluating. With the potential devastating deep cuts proposed by our current state Governor, it may not be possible to maintain this academically beneficial program. In March, the chair of the Finance Committee, Elroy Buckner interviewed me as part of his decision-making process. It was clear that this is a very difficult decision for the board to make. It is clear from the data, that this program is accelerating the learning of our Kindergarten students. Complicating the decision is there is also legislation pending that may remove full Full Time Equivalent (FTE) funds if a school district does not offer full day Kindergarten. They are looking at a number of alternatives, including 1/2 day Kindergarten in the AM and PM, with Academic Enrichment during the opposite 1/2 of the day. The enrichment would not be provided by a certified teacher, and bus transportation would not be provide during the mid-day--only in the morning and at the end of the regular school day. I don't envy them as they make this very difficult decision--which will be made at the April 25 board meeting, unless they decide to postpone that decision.
During the interview with Mr. Buckner, as an aside, we discussed the obvious positive functioning of the school board. It is clear that the board understands their duties and have worked very hard to operate as efficiently and as cohesively as possible. He suggested that I attend a school board meeting in some other district for comparison and he assured me they do not all function as well as Fruitport Community Schools. I have not yet had the opportunity to do that, as I have had conflicts in my schedule.
Kent Intermediate School District Literacy Coaches Network
Kent Intermediate School District's Literacy Coaches Network- Beginning Cohort. The Literacy Coached Network(LCN) is described as:
The Literacy Coaches Network is a group of Pre-K-12 educators whom we refer to as literacy coaches and/or literacy leaders, who meet regularly to learn and share best practices around literacy. This group includes: classroom teachers, department chairs, reading teachers, Title 1 teachers, pre-school teachers, coaches (full and part time), literacy leaders in all content areas, English language learner teachers, special education teachers, and anyone interested in networking with others to share and learn.Because literacy is one of my main focuses, my membership in this group can best be described with one word: empowering. I wrote a blog post "Let the Learning Begin!" about my experience with the LCN that can be accessed here. This group provides a connection to the latest developments in best and promising practices in literacy learning and has become part of my Personal Learning Network (PLN). It has also been an information resource for upcoming professional development opportunities.
Kent ISD is providing Cognitive Coaching Foundations I & II training that begins in June 2011. I am registered for both the summer (I) and fall sessions (II) and feel this will be an excellent opportunity to refine my ability and experience as a learning coach. It will also provide a certification in Cognitive Coaching to enhance my repertoire.
Additional LCN Resources
Kent ISD Literacy Resources page
Literacy Coaches Toolkit (newest version)
Literacy Coaches Toolkit (previous years' version)
Literacy Professional Development
Social networking is an important resource for staying on top of current political, social, legal, economic and cultural events, and in understanding the contexts in which they occur. My Professional Learning Network-- Twitter PLN has been an extremely valuable tool for staying connected and current on issues in education at the federal, state and local levels. This PLN consists of several area district superintendents, including Nick Ceglarek and David Britton, other nationally recognized leaders in education such as Alfie Kohn and Diane Ravitch, news organizations and principals and teachers from around the globe. These individuals are well informed about current legislative and educational policy issues and Twitter provides immediate and excellent links to articles and websites through the daily Twitter feed. In addition, there are organized "chat" events", one can follow, which lets you view what other's are tweeting even if you don't follow them. Here is an example:
|Sample of #edchat feed from April 20, 2011|
Why Educators Should be Using Twitter
Cybraryman's Catalogue of Educational Websites
The Economics Behind International Education Rankings