Tuesday, December 8, 2015

LFKS Annual Holiday Letter First Edition

By Vicki Bechard
Secretary LFKS

Tis the Season for receiving holiday cards and letters from our friends, recapping their year and wishing us Good Tidings and Much Joy.  As the semester winds down, students and educators alike are anticipating the winter break.  All of this buzz and hype increases both our energy and anxiety levels, and extends our To Do List to something that seems almost unmanageable.  Then in the moment when we finally catch our breath, we read the cards and letters that arrive in our mail box (and inbox too) which makes us appreciate those who have taken the time to remember us once again.

We at Learning Forward Kansas (LFKS) want to take this time to wish each of our members, partners, and supporters a restful and reflective holiday. We hope each of you will take the time to look back on all that you accomplished in 2015 and appreciate the journey: the joys celebrated, the lessons learned, and the knowledge, that to someone, you made a difference.

It has been an exciting, transformational year for LFKS in 2015.  We began the year with the retirement celebration for our inaugural and longtime Executive Director, Sandee Crowther, at the LFKS Annual Conference in January.  We acknowledge and appreciate the role Sandee played in shining a light on professional learning so that LFKS can further our work to support Kansas Educators so that they might benefit from effective professional learning practices.

The spring was busy with transitional activities as we selected our new director, Dayna Richardson.  With that selection came sharing of new ideas, planning, and a few adjustments in the structure of the organization.  In addition, we piloted a study of Learning Forward’s Executive Leadership Program so that we could offer it as a fully implemented learning opportunity in the fall.

June saw us gather at the Henderson House in Stafford, KS for our annual Advance.  We accomplished much at this planning event, revising and refocusing our vision and mission, restructuring the budget, updating the action plan, and developing the KESA Facilitation Guide as a FREE resource of protocols (strategies) for Kansas educators.  As a takeaway from the Advance, LFKS Board members committed their support to achieve our new vision of “Excellent Teaching and Learning Every Day.”

Our biggest celebration occurred when we received word that LFKS had been awarded the $10,000 Learning Forward Affiliate Grant.  The purpose of this 3 year grant is to create videos using Kansas Examples to support the planning and implementation of Effective Professional Learning Designs throughout Kansas schools.  Our To Do List just got larger!

The summer was a busy time as we worked to re-launch our LFKS website with a complete makeover (check it out here!) and begin to shape the work that we would do for the next few years.  Even the constitution was revised and updated to reflect the policies and practices we would need to implement the new vision and mission.   In addition, we have worked to increase our presence on social media and with regular communication to our members via emails.  We hope that you will connect with us on Facebook and Twitter to see what's happening and gain new ideas.

The fall saw the launch of the A Learning Community for School Leaders:  Executive Leadership Program.  This 30 hour blended learning opportunity will continue to be offered each semester as we look to support school leaders with strategies and information to improve their ability to lead complex change.  In addition, LFKS partnered with Southwest Plains Regional Service Center to bring Bruce Wellman to Kansas for a 1 day conference on Feedback for Growth Not Gotcha.  To read more about the reflections from participants for this event, click here

As we head into the winter break we are finalizing plans for the Learning Forward Kansas Annual Conference.  This year’s theme is Excellent Teaching and Learning Every Day:  A Focus on Professional Learning.  Our keynote speakers will address the growing issue of students in poverty and how we can actively engage all students in learning.  Please plan to attend this powerful learning opportunity January 27 & 28th in Wichita.

Learning Forward Kansas has been blessed by the committed individuals within our organization, our partners, the Kansas State Department of Education, as well as the thousands of Kansas Educators who work steadfastly to achieve Excellent Teaching and Learning Every Day.  We have learned a great deal already as we experience this transition process.  The ideas continue to take shape and much work is yet to be done.  It's a crazy and exciting time for us at LFKS!  We continue to believe, however, that together we will achieve this goal through effective professional learning because Kansans Can!

Have a wonderful holiday! We hope that you will rest, relax, and come back in 2016 with a renewed spirit and commitment to ensuring that in every Kansas school we have Excellent Teaching and Learning Every Day!

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