Mimio Educator

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

Back to School: A Collection of Blogs to Get You Ready

Posted by Travis Rink on Tue, Aug 14, 2018


The new school year is quickly approaching, so you’re probably already thinking about all the things you need to do to be ready for that first day. Between working on your lesson plans, setting up your classroom, getting supplies, and learning your new students’ names, there is so much going on! 

Need help prepping for your return to the classroom? Check out these blogs for helpful teaching strategies, back-to-school deals, classroom tips, and more:

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Topics: back to school, 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

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

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

Creating Strong Teams in Your School

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Thu, Jun 28, 2018

Schools are comprised of teams, and these teams working together create the “team” that is the entire school. Although teachers are often stereotyped as preferring to work alone isolated in their classrooms, most teachers love working within a team—at least within a strong team. Weak or ineffective teams can be frustrating and potentially toxic. Because of this, the aspects of a strong team are critical for teams and leaders to know and understand.

There isn’t a step-by-step list of how to develop strong teams, but there are some universal guidelines and expectations that can help teams to become more effective. Here are some of the key ingredients for a strong team:

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Topics: Administrator Resources

Maintaining Trust to Build School Culture

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Thu, Jun 21, 2018

The school year is off to a great start and all school teams are working together without issues. Everyone has a positive attitude each and every day. Teachers leave meetings with a sense of efficacy and support all the decisions that come from administration.

Well, maybe not exactly. But we can dream, right? I have been part of 18 different school years thus far in my career, and each year is filled with highs and lows. At times, there is a positive energy in the school and the culture is great. Other times, it feels a little more like “work” and there are top-down decisions that are hard to support. 

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Topics: Administrator Resources


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