Mimio Educator

Kelly Bielefeld

Kelly Bielefeld has 12 years of experience as an elementary school principal. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education from Kansas State University, and master's degrees in Curriculum & Instruction and Educational Leadership & Administration from Wichita State University. As a principal, he has worked in rural, urban, and suburban schools along with having experience in both parochial and public school setting.
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Recent Posts

Recruiting to the Teaching Profession—and to Your School

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Thu, Aug 16, 2018

Teaching is a wonderful profession. I would even call it the best profession. It is full of challenges and “warts” like any other field, but there is really nothing like it. Regardless of whether we are teaching five-year-old students or fifty-year-old professionals, teaching starts with a lack of knowledge or skill and ends with something gained by the individual that cannot be taken away. Education opens doors, increases opportunity, and makes all of us better, more well-rounded human beings.

It is true that not every day in the classroom feels like this. Paperwork, meetings, and state mandates all distract us from the bottom line of kids learning and growing. In recent decades, the quantity of “other things” that teachers have to worry about and do has greatly increased.

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Topics: Administrator Resources, tips for teachers

How to Build Classroom Culture for the New School Year

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Wed, Aug 15, 2018

 
The start of the school year is the perfect time to set the tone and culture of a school and classroom. It's a time for fresh starts and stepping out on the right foot. As we welcome new students into our classrooms for the first time, the “culture” of the room starts to be built.

As a member of a school community, it is time to consider the kind of culture you want to create in your classroom. This could be a classroom culture or building culture. How do you want it to “feel” when students enter the classroom? What types of interactions do you want them to have, and what will the climate and culture of the classroom be?

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Topics: Administrator Resources, tips for teachers

Setting Professional Learning Goals for Success All Year Long

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Thu, Aug 9, 2018

We know that teachers learn best, and are most motivated, when learning about a topic that is of high interest to them. Some trainings are required for all teachers and there isn’t any way around that, but much of what we do with professional learning tends to be “one size fits all” with little choice provided.

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Topics: Professional Development for Teachers, Administrator Resources

Make 3D Printing Work in the Classroom

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Wed, Aug 8, 2018

With the current trends of makerspaces and technology-rich classrooms being so popular, many teachers are looking to further engage students with 3D printers. This technology is cool and innovative, but teachers may have questions about how it will actually work in the classroom.

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Topics: STEM, STEAM

Professional Learning Communities: Is Yours on Target?

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Tue, Jul 31, 2018

Archery is a unique and popular sport in our school district. We have high numbers of students who participate in archery every year at both the state and national level. Archery has a lot of similarities to professional learning communities (PLCs)—stick with me and I think you will see the connection. 

There is a clear target that we are aiming for. We have tools in our hands that can help us to hit the target. Some tools are better than others, but a gifted artisan can do a great deal with any tools they handle. Small adjustments at the start of the process yield major impacts (both good and bad) when the target is reached (or missed). What that means is a tiny adjustment to an arrow or bow when shooting causes a big change in the outcome. Getting the arrow started in the right direction makes a huge difference in the success of the shot.

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Topics: Administrator Resources, tips for teachers

I Think I Can: How Teachers’ Beliefs Impact Student Learning

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Thu, Jul 26, 2018

This article could be very short. What makes teachers effective? One simple, truthful answer: Teachers believing that they can be effective.

It isn’t that easy—is it? In some ways, it is. A teacher’s belief in their own efficacy is the starting point for many things that follow: high expectations, connecting with all students, working hard, and collaborating as a professional. If we don’t believe that our work will actually make an impact, then many of these are a waste of time.

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Topics: tips for teachers

Building a Makerspace From the Ground Up

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Tue, Jul 24, 2018

Creating a makerspace in a school or classroom is a great idea for many reasons. In a well-run makerspace, engagement is high, critical thinking is taking place, and collaborative problem solving is occurring among students. What’s not to like?

But the prospect of getting a makerspace off the ground can be overwhelming. We are in the process of launching one in our school next year and have learned a few things along the way.

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Topics: The Maker Movement, tips for teachers

Redesign Education in Your School District

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Tue, Jul 17, 2018

I feel fortunate to work in a state that has a very compelling vision for education. In Kansas, our commissioner has articulated exactly what we are to do every day in our classrooms, our schools, and our districts: Produce students who can be successful. 

Following No Child Left Behind, this vision feels very different and much broader. A few years ago, we were tasked with simply producing students who could pass reading and math assessments at the state level. That was it. That was all that “mattered” for accreditation and evaluating our effectiveness. As educators, we know that these test scores did not correlate with success—but it wasn't up to us.

All of that changed with the ESSA act a few years ago. More local control was given back to the states, and accreditation didn’t come solely from an individual test on a given day. Teachers began to focus again on all the factors that impact a student being successful instead of just math and reading.

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Topics: Administrator Resources

Genius Hour Part 2: Making Genius Hour Work

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Thu, Jul 12, 2018

In the first article on Genius Hour, we provided an overview of the philosophy behind genius hour and why teachers should consider trying out the concept. We also gave some considerations for getting started—things like how to schedule the time, the standards to support the learning, and the comfort level with putting it all together.

If a teacher is ready to pull the trigger, what happens next? It is hard to know where to start or what to do. Should I dabble in it or go full steam ahead? Should I start the year with it or wait a few weeks to get routines down? How am I going to grade this—or should I even grade it at all?

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Topics: Administrator Resources, tips for teachers

Genius Hour Part 1: Genius Hour Overview

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Mon, Jul 2, 2018

Over the past few years, the term “genius hour” has caught fire and become more common in classrooms. If you have heard this term before but weren’t sure what it means, here is a short primer about the topic.

The origins of genius hour are pretty simple. In Daniel Pink’s book Drive, he discusses some insightful research about motivation. He cites three key areas that are most effective in motivating people (and students): autonomy, mastery, and purpose. He asserts that traditional incentives for behavior—things like rewards and punishments—only work with certain types of tasks, like rote learning or repetitive tasks. For tasks that require depth of thinking, creativity, and problem solving, we are much more motivated by having a sense of purpose, a feeling of autonomy, and a hope of mastery.

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Topics: Administrator Resources, tips for teachers

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