Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Joint Statement on Serving Students with Disabilities During COVID-19 Outbreak

The South Dakota Department of Education Special Education Programs, South Dakota Parent Connection, and Disability Rights South Dakota remain committed to the provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  We believe the rights of all students with disabilities must be maintained, even during school closures, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.  

It is our firm belief, despite the unprecedented challenge facing districts and families, that students with disabilities will be served by parties coming together to make decisions on how to provide services in a manner that ensures the health and safety of all parties and that allows for meaningful progress on IEP goals and educational standards.     

During this time, we encourage all parties to keep communication lines open and work together. Meetings may need to be held by phone or video conferencing, but time and effort should be on ensuring continued provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education for students with disabilities to meet the IEP goals and services. At the conclusion of this outbreak, IEP teams can assess if services provided allowed the student to make sufficient progress on goals and educational standards, and then determine if any additional or compensatory services should be made available due to any limitations in the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education.      

Thank you for your attention to the health and safety of students and educational providers during this time. We will get through this by working together. If you have questions during this time, please feel free to reach out to the Special Education Program representative for your regionSouth Dakota Parent Connection, or Disability Rights South Dakota.




Friday, March 20, 2020

A message from the Secretary: Thank you

Dear South Dakota teachers and school personnel,

It’s hard to believe it’s only been two weeks that we have been dealing with school closures in South Dakota. I’m sure it feels much longer.

Your response has been remarkable. The vital in-person classroom connection that approximately 10,000 educators across South Dakota share with some 135,000 students was suddenly cut. But the need remains the same. And now we see you establishing new kinds of connections with your students with creativity, innovation, and courage.

From what I’ve observed over these past seven days, I’m confident that if this virus could be beaten by your unwavering devotion to your students and your tremendous flexibility in the face of these sudden and unprecedented challenges, you all would have conquered it by Tuesday.

However long this crisis endures, please know that your dedication serves as an example to all of us.

Thank you for everything you’re doing for South Dakota students.

Benjamin F. Jones, PhD
Secretary of Education 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Department of Education staff hosting online collaboration meetings for educators

During this time of extended school closures related to COVID-19, Department of Education staff and the Title III & Migrant Consortium are hosting online collaboration meetings to provide a forum for educators to discuss how their schools are navigating flex learning while students are at home. We will update this blog entry regularly, as new meetings are scheduled.


Monday, March 30, 10 a.m. CT
Target audience: Public and school librarians
State Library staff will be available to answer librarians' questions about navigating COVID-19 concerns. Have questions you wish to submit ahead of the call? Email Kathleen.slocum@state.sd.us.
Call: 1-866-410-8397
Conference Code: 605-773-5055

Monday, March 30, 10:30 a.m. CT
Target audience: Elementary teachers (grades K-2)
Rachel Schaefer, 2018 South Dakota Teacher of the Year and Dina Vander Wilt, 2019 Regional Teacher of the Year, along with Kelly Royer from the Department of Education, will host a webinar for elementary teachers geared toward grades K-2. This will be an open collaboration time for teachers to connect and share.
Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/4320620552

Monday, March 30, 3:30 p.m. CT
Target audience: K-12 math teachers
Nichole Bowman, a middle school math teacher in Pierre will explain how to use the Loom platform for recording videos and how she shares them with students. 
Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/414783513

Tuesday, March 31, 10:30 a.m. CT
Target audience: K-12 math teachers
This will be an open collaboration time for math teachers to connect, hosted by Stephanie Higdon, the Department of Education's math specialis. 
Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/128743342

Tuesday, March 31, 2 p.m. CT
Target audience: K-12 English language arts teachers
Teaching in isolation has taken on an entirely new meaning during social distancing and flex/e-learning planning. Join your K-12 ELA colleagues to break up the isolation, share challenges, solutions, and explore new ideas for flex learning situations. 

Tuesday, March 31, 3:30 p.m. CT
Target audience: Elementary teachers (grades 3-6)
Erica Boomsma, 2019 South Dakota Teacher of the Year, and Amanda Harris, 2020 South Dakota Teacher of the Year, along with Kelly Royer from the Department of Education will host a webinar for elementary teachers geared toward grades 3-6. This will be an open collaboration time for teachers to connect and share.
Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/4320620552


Thursday, April 2, 1 p.m. CT
Target audience: CTE directors of consortia or districts
Amy Miller, the South Dakota Department of Education’s assistant director of career and technical education, will host an open office webinar for CTE directors to network about how they’re navigating flex learning during this time of extended school closures.
Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/778371422

Thursday, April 2, 3:30 p.m. CT
Target audience: All K-12 fine arts educators (theater, music, dance, media arts, or visual arts)
Join in on some conversation with other K-12 fine arts educators as you navigate these dynamic times.  Come with questions, ideas for lessons, or simply the need to visit with your colleagues for a while.
Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/172734360
Meeting ID: 172 734 360 


Friday, April 3, 2 p.m. CT
Target audience: School counselors

Andrea Diehm, the South Dakota Department of Education's school counseling specialist will host a collaboration meeting for South Dakota school counselors to share and learn from each other best practices for continuing school counseling during this time of school closures. 
Skype:
Call in Info for Audio (if you don’t use your computer’s audio):
Phone Number: 866-410-8397
Conference ID: 887 104 0996

Thursday, April 9, 10 a.m. CT
Target audience: School counselors

Andrea Diehm, the South Dakota Department of Education's school counseling specialist will host a collaboration meeting for South Dakota school counselors to share and learn from each other best practices for continuing school counseling during this time of school closures. 
Skype:
Call in Info for Audio (if you don’t use your computer’s audio):
Phone Number: 866-410-8397
Conference ID: 887 104 0996
Thursday, April 9, 1 p.m. CT
Target audience: CTE directors of consortia or districts
Amy Miller, the South Dakota Department of Education’s assistant director of career and technical education, will host an open office webinar for CTE directors to network about how they’re navigating flex learning during this time of extended school closures.
Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/778371422

Wednesday, April 15, 3 p.m. CT
Target audience: School counselors

Andrea Diehm, the South Dakota Department of Education's school counseling specialist will host a collaboration meeting for South Dakota school counselors to share and learn from each other best practices for continuing school counseling during this time of school closures. 
Skype:
Call in Info for Audio (if you don’t use your computer’s audio):
Phone Number: 866-410-8397
Conference ID: 887 104 0996
Thursday, April 16, 1 p.m. CT
Target audience: CTE directors of consortia or districts
Amy Miller, the South Dakota Department of Education’s assistant director of career and technical education, will host an open office webinar for CTE directors to network about how they’re navigating flex learning during this time of extended school closures.
Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/778371422

Tuesday, April 21, 10 a.m. CT
Target audience: School counselors

Andrea Diehm, the South Dakota Department of Education's school counseling specialist will host a collaboration meeting for South Dakota school counselors to share and learn from each other best practices for continuing school counseling during this time of school closures. 
Skype:
Call in Info for Audio (if you don’t use your computer’s audio):
Phone Number: 866-410-8397
Conference ID: 887 104 0996
Thursday, April 23, 1 p.m. CT
Target audience: CTE directors of consortia or districts
Amy Miller, the South Dakota Department of Education’s assistant director of career and technical education, will host an open office webinar for CTE directors to network about how they’re navigating flex learning during this time of extended school closures.
Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/778371422


Thursday, April 30, 11 a.m. CT
Target audience: School counselors

Andrea Diehm, the South Dakota Department of Education's school counseling specialist will host a collaboration meeting for South Dakota school counselors to share and learn from each other best practices for continuing school counseling during this time of school closures. 
Skype:
Call in Info for Audio (if you don’t use your computer’s audio):
Phone Number: 866-410-8397Conference ID: 887 104 0996

Thursday, April 30, 1 p.m. CT

Target audience: CTE directors of consortia or districts
Amy Miller, the South Dakota Department of Education’s assistant director of career and technical education, will host an open office webinar for CTE directors to network about how they’re navigating flex learning during this time of extended school closures.
Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/778371422

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Gov. Noem proclaims School Counseling Week 2020

Executive Proclamation
Office of the Governor
State of South Dakota

Whereas, school counselors are employed in public and private schools to help students reach their full potential; and,

Whereas, school counselors are actively committed to helping students explore their abilities, strengths, interests, and talents as these traits relate to career awareness and development; and,

Whereas, school counselors help parents focus on ways to further the educational, personal, and social growth of their children; and,

Whereas, school counselors work with teachers and other educators to help students explore their potential and set realistic goals for themselves; and,

Whereas, school counselors seek to identify and utilize community resources that can enhance and complement comprehensive school counseling programs and help students become productive members of society; and,

Whereas, comprehensive developmental school counseling programs are considered an integral part of the educational process that enables all students to achieve success in school:

Now, Therefore, I, Kristi Noem, Governor of the state of South Dakota, do hereby proclaim
Feb. 3-7, 2020, as

School Counseling Week

in South Dakota.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Check out upcoming webinars to learn more about National Board Certification

Have you ever thought about pursuing National Board Certification? 

Teachers who earn National Board Certification demonstrate advanced knowledge and skill in their profession. Teachers achieve this certification through a rigorous, performance-based, peer-reviewed assessment of a teacher's pedagogical skills and content knowledge. 

The South Dakota Department of Education is hosting upcoming webinars for teachers to learn more about the process:
  • Jan. 13, 5:30-6:30 p.m. CT: Join our DOE Zoom meeting to learn more about Components One and Two of the certification. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions.
  • Jan. 27, 5:30-6:30 p.m. CT: Join our DOE Zoom meeting to learn more about Components Three and Four. Again, there will be time for Q & A.
Access information for both meetings: 
Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 432 062 0552

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Meeting ID: 432 062 0552
Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/adlLHacpjw

Join DOE’s National Board Certification cohort
For those teachers who decide to start the National Board Certification process this year, the South Dakota Department of Education is facilitating a cohort. To learn more, visit our National Board Certification webpage and contact Kelly Royer. Teachers can sign up for the cohort until the next National Board Certification registration deadline, which is Feb. 28.

The National Board Certification process takes one to three years to complete. While licensing standards set the basic requirements to teach in a state, National Board Certified teachers demonstrate advanced teaching knowledge, skills, and practices similar to the certifications earned by experts in law and medicine.

South Dakota teachers who earn National Board Certification receive $2,000 per year for five years, with $1,000 paid by the South Dakota Department of Education and $1,000 paid by the teacher’s school district. The department will also reimburse fees personally paid by teachers upon their achievement of national certification. 

To learn more about this certification and stipend and reimbursement opportunities, visit our National Board Certification webpage.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Championing excellence in South Dakota's K-12 education system


A column by Secretary of Education Dr. Ben Jones

The South Dakota Department of Education has released its strategic plan, which will guide the department’s activities through 2024. Based on our professional experience, judgment, and knowledge, we believe the plan provides a concise illustration of the department’s future and work for our next generation. Chief among our priorities is championing excellence in South Dakota’s K-12 education system.

As part of our strategy, the department has initiated two implementation plans focused on decreasing the opportunity gap for students in poverty and establishing a networked community of allies focused on serving Native American learners to improve academic outcomes.

These initiatives have key points of overlap and will be primary efforts of the department and our partners in the coming years. Other priorities are expanding work-based learning and enhancing civics education.

The plan consists of four strategic directions: championing excellence, maximizing and building relationships, achieving effectiveness, and cultivating our professional culture. The strategies are intended to achieve the department’s vision of supporting local educators, investing in talent development, fostering research and innovation, supporting the whole learner, and reinventing accountability.

The department’s strategic plan clearly defines what we hope to be as a department in five years, and it describes who is working on which initiative and when. This is a living plan, to change as the needs of students change while keeping standards high and ensuring that a diploma is meaningful.

It is also important to note what this strategic plan is not. It is not the statewide plan driven by student achievement goals for South Dakota students. That is our state’s current Every Student Succeeds Act Plan. Instead, the department’s strategic plan details steps the department will take, as part of the wider effort of supporting South Dakota’s accredited schools, to improve our state’s educational environment. We will monitor progress on the ESSA plan, and make efforts to improve where there is need.

Together with our state’s educators and other important partners, our professional staff will begin to move in the strategic directions of maximizing and building relationships, achieving effectiveness, championing excellence, and cultivating our professional culture.

We embrace the work ahead.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Leader Feature: Developing cultural responsiveness at Canyon Lake Elementary

Principal David Swank
David Swank is the principal at Canyon Lake Elementary in Rapid City. We spoke with him recently about the school’s efforts to integrate the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings and Standards, as part of a broader effort focused on cultural responsiveness.

“If we are really thinking about changing outcomes for students, then the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings and Standards need to be at the leading edge of our discussions about instruction, materials, and strategy,” Swank says.

Having said that, Swank is the first to admit he and his staff don’t have it all figured out: “It’s really required some vulnerability from our staff because the majority of our staff are non-Native, so there has been some trepidation about not wanting to do things incorrectly and not wanting to offend people.”

Just start

Roughly 40 percent of Canyon Lake students identify as non-white and most of those non-white students identify as Native American.

To combat the trepidation educators might feel, Swank says the first step, as simple as it sounds, is just to start: “I think people appreciate efforts to be better, and that can override making mistakes. And we need to make mistakes in order to improve.”

Swank assembled a group of stakeholders during the 2018-19 school year, including parents, teachers, and district administrators to develop strategy around cultural competency and culturally responsive teaching at Canyon Lake.

First steps

Tamera Miyasato, a parent of a Canyon Lake student, has also worked with the school in her role as a learning specialist with TIE (Technology and Innovation in Education). As one of the first steps in the school’s cultural proficiency work, she provided staff training about implicit bias. Swank has also worked to help his school incorporate the Woope Sakowin, or Seven Laws, which he learned about from Miyasato.
Tamera Miyasato

After the implicit bias training, Swank says staff began thinking about transforming the physical space of the building. Walking through Canyon Lake halls and classrooms, students, staff, and visitors see posters of Native American elders, medicine wheels, and signs featuring Lakota language.

With the 2019-20 school year, Canyon Lake staff is integrating the OSEUs and the Woope Sakowin into the academic experience. The school is using the social studies disaggregated standards and OSEU connections and exemplar lessons available on the WoLakota Project website to help align the OSEUs with academic content.

Additionally, within classrooms, students work with a station rotation model. Staff have oriented the stations to the directions of the medicine wheel, and each station is associated with some of the Seven Laws corresponding to the type of work being done.

For instance, in an east-facing station, students might work together on math games. The collaborative nature of this station reflects the value of wacante oganake (to help, to share, to be generous). At a south-facing station, students work independently, showing teachers what they can do, reflecting the value of woksape (understanding and wisdom).


It takes time
As Swank points out, there is a focus on Native American students because they are the school’s largest subgroup, but there is also a growing African immigrant population at the school: “So it’s really about how we provide a truly multicultural perspective that values the backgrounds of all our students. That will take years to develop, and it’s something we’ll tackle piece by piece. Ultimately, we don’t want students to feel like they have to ‘check’ any part of their identity at the door when they walk in the school.”

“That’s the amazing thing about the OSEUs—they incorporate diverse cultures into the learning experience, but they also honor people and place,” Miyasato says. “Mr. Swank understands the importance of these two things. To honor the land where the school sits and to honor the original inhabitants of the He Sapa (Black Hills), Canyon Lake uses the OSEUs and integrates the Woope Sakowin into their practices. Yet it is done in a way that still honors every diverse experience that walks through Canyon Lake’s doors.”


Don’t guess
For schools wondering where to start with this kind of work, Swank says, “Don’t guess. Reach out to people who can actually help guide you along that journey. And don’t ask your students to be the experts. That’s not a fair place to put our kids, to ask them to be representatives for their entire culture or an entire ethnicity. We can certainly invite kids to be part of the process, but they shouldn’t have the burden of being the experts in their culture.”

The power of a name

Sometimes the opportunity to help a student embrace their culture comes completely by surprise. Swank tells the story of a teacher who noticed one of her students seemed particularly reluctant to participate in the daily roll call. Through talking with the student, the teacher learned the student had been teased about their last name at a previous school and therefore didn’t like it to be said out loud.

Because the teacher had engaged in some work around cultural proficiency, particularly with Lakota culture, she was able to ask the student, “Do you know what your name means?”

“And when the teacher was able to speak to the cultural significance of the student’s name, that student was just elated to know that someone understood where they were coming from,” Swank says. “That’s a perfect example of a student who has felt like they needed to leave part of themselves at the door. And we’re saying, ‘No, bring that with you because that’s part of what will make your educational experience more valuable, and we can embrace that.’”