Wednesday, October 9, 2019

MRVED Update - October 9, 2019

MRVED Business

Upcoming Meetings:

October 16, 2019 - MRVED Common Inservice Day at Dawson-Boyd Schools
October 23, 2019 - Superintendents' Council
October 25, 2019 - Principals' Council

November 12, 2019 - Community Education Directors
November 15, 2019 - Principals' Council & TAC

October 16, 2019 Information:

Thank you to everyone who registered for the October 16th MRVED Common Inservice Day!

The schedule for the day is as followed:

8:00 a.m. - 8:35 a.m. - Coffee, juice, & muffins in the Dawson-Boyd Commons Area
                                           (Compliments of your administrators)
8:40 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. - Morning Session
11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. - Lunch in the Dawson-Boyd Commons Area
12:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. - District Time (Location determined by your administration)


1.  Enter through door #4 (located on 9th street - this is a ONE WAY STREET)
2.  Once you arrive, be sure to stop by the registration table near the commons area to pick up your registration packet (agenda with room numbers, clock hours, and lunch ticket, if applicable).  Your agenda is your CLOCK HOUR CERTIFICATE.
3.  Dress in layers.  Some of the rooms could be warm or cool depending on the number of people in the session.
4.  If you are not eating the catered meal, we suggest you bring a bag lunch.  If you are planning to eat off campus, please remember the next session begins promptly at 12:30 p.m.
5.  An electronic evaluation will be sent via email on Monday, October 21st.  Please complete it as soon as possible.  The feedback from the evaluation is used in planning future MRVED events.

*Please look for an email regarding additional details of the day coming soon!

If you have any questions regarding the October 16th MRVED Common Inservice Day, please contact Katie Raymo at 320-269-9297 or kraymo@mrved. net.

We are looking forward to a great fall inservice!

MELT 2020 Call for Presentations

The MRVED Educators Learning Together (MELT) conference will be held at Lac qui Parle Valley High School on January 20, 2020.  To help make this conference the best ever, we need your help.  The MRVED is looking for enthusiastic people willing to present on something great happening in your classroom.  This can be anything from Google Drive to differentiation techniques in your classroom.  Show us how you Teach Like a Pirate or incorporate Social Emotional Learning into your classroom!  Technology or no technology proposals are welcome.  Presenters will be paid a small stipend for your work.  You may submit as many presentation                                                                proposals as you wish.

**We are actively seeking any Pre-K people that would like to present, as well as Social Emotional Learning topics!**

**By filling out this form you are not committing to presenting, just providing the MRVED with your name and topic.**

Link to Proposal Form

Professional Development

Impact Education Conference (Formally TIES)

The TIES conference which is held every December is now called the Impact Education Conference as the TIES corporation no longer exists.  It's the same conference, just a different name.

Date: December 14-17, 2019
Location: Hyatt Regency Minneapolis

Registration Link

Book Study

Lead Like a PIRATE - Rapport, Ask & Analyze, Transformation, Enthusiasm

As I mentioned in the introduction to Lead Like a Pirate, this book will be beneficial to anyone in any leadership role, not just school administration.  What follows is simply my thoughts on the chapters, that will hopefully spur some thoughts of your own and maybe challenge your thinking and/or practices.  My little synopsis is by no means a substitute for reading the book!

This chapter talks about the importance of making connections and building relationships with the people you lead.  The chapter provides a variety of strategies to make connections with people.  However, the one thing that stuck with me was the word "trust".  If people don't trust you, there is no way you can build relationships.  The authors provide a great example about the supply closet being locked in a school.  I'm sure there is a reason why it is locked, but the underlying tone is that we don't trust you to go into the supply closet.  Without trust, people will never get behind any ideas you have or anything you say.  Everything you say or do will be questioned.  A leader needs to develop the trust of their people before anything else can happen!

Ask & Analyze
"Good questions inform; great questions transform (Burgess & Houf, 48)."  This quote says it all.  An example of this would be to think about how you ask the following question:  "What are your goals for this year?"  One way to do this would be to ask, "What is something you have always wanted to do in your class, but haven't tried yet?  How can I help make that happen?"  Think about what different type of responses you would get for each type of question.  Now apply this thinking to any of the questions you ask.  How can we elevate our questioning?

To be an effective leader, sometimes you need to truly transform your tasks.  I use the analogy of a toy Transformer.  The toy looks like a vehicle at the beginning, but by the time it fully transforms it looks like a robot.  Our tasks need to do the same.  They need to look nothing like what they looked like at the beginning.  True transformation is not tweaking one thing and calling it good.  It's changing the status quo.

The "E" in PIRATE stands for Enthusiasm.  Bottom line; if you aren't excited as a leader, the people that follow you aren't going to be excited as well.  Being a leader is hard work, and some days are not as fun as others, but the day is what you make it.  Your attitude is contagious with the group.  As Dave Burgess said, "Fake it until you make it if you have to".

Picture taken from

This wraps up section I in the book Lead Like a Pirate.  I'm excited to see what the rest of the book has to offer!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

MRVED Update - September 25, 2019

MRVED Business

Upcoming Meetings

September 25, 2019 - Superintendents' Council
September 17, 2019 - Title III Teachers
October 16, 2019 - MRVED Common Inservice (Dawson-Boyd Schools)

October 16, 2019 Information

Registration for the October 16th MRVED Common Inservice was sent out last week to your local superintendents and principals.  You should have received an email from them with the registration link and information regarding the inservice day.  The registration link is below or it can also be found on our website: under "Latest News".

MRVED Registration Link 

It will be held in Dawson at the Dawson-Boyd Schools.  Willow Sweeney Flaherty will be the keynote speaker.  The afternoon will be district time focused on Social-Emotional Learning implementation.  Some districts will be staying at the Dawson-Boyd Schools, some will be returning to your home district, as directed by your principal.

Registration needs to be completed by Friday, September 27th at 4:00 p.m.!  An email will be sent out one week prior to the inservice with details outlining the day.  An agenda will also be handed out when you arrive to the inservice, along with your name tag and lunch ticket, if applicable.  We will need to know which DISTRICT and PRINCIPAL you primarily report to.  If you are unsure, please check with a principal.

Trish's Katering will be catering the lunch for the inservice.  The menu will be a chicken breast (mixed with stuffing, carrots, & gravy), baby red potatoes, green beans, mixed greens strawberry salad, bar, and lemonade.  The cost is $10.00 and is to paid to your district.  DO NOT SEND ANY MONEY TO THE MRVED.  The last day to cancel your lunch is Friday, September 27th at 4:00 p.m.  After that date, you will be held responsible for the lunch cost.

The schedule for the day is as followed:

8:00 - 8:35 a.m. - Registration (Agenda, Name Tag, Lunch Ticket)
8:00 - 8:35 a.m. - Coffee, juice, and muffins, compliments of your administrators
8:40 - 11:30 a.m. - SEL Kickoff by Willow Sweeney Flaherty
11:30 - 12:30 p.m. - Lunch by Trish Kruger
12:30 - 2:30 p.m. - District time focused on SEL implementation

New Science Standards Workshop

On November 20th, 2019, Lakeview Schools will be presenting a "New Science Standards Workshop".  It will be facilitated by Jay Meiners and Joan Foley.  The goal for the day is to give science teachers an opportunity to establish plans for how the implementation of the new standards will look in the classrooms and districts.  If you are interested in attending, please email Courtney Frie, Curriculum Director, at by October 1st.  

The link to the flyer is below:

MELT 2020 Call for Presentations

The MRVED Educators Learning Together (MELT) conference will be held at Lac qui Parle Valley High School on January 20, 2020.  To help make this conference the best ever, we need your help.  The MRVED is looking for enthusiastic people willing to present on something great happening in your classroom.  This can be anything from Google Drive to differentiation techniques in your classroom.  Show us how you Teach Like a Pirate or incorporate Social Emotional Learning into your classroom!  Technology or no technology proposals are welcome.  Presenters will be paid a small stipend for your work.  You may submit as many presentation proposals as you wish.

**We are actively seeking any Pre-K people that would like to present, as well as Social Emotional Learning topics!**

**By filling out this form you are not committing to presenting, just providing the MRVED with your name and topic.**

Link to Proposal Form

Professional Development

Dave Burgess Consulting Pirate Con

If you enjoyed the Dave Burgess and/or George Couros keynotes from the past couple years, then DBC Pirate Con is for you.  It will be held June 12-14, 2020 in San Diego, California.  The lineup for this conference is AMAZING!  You will have the opportunity to hear from the likes of Dave Burgess, Matt Miller, Adam Welcome, Jimmy Casas, etc...

The best part the conference is only $379!  Looking at the value of speakers at this conference, you are getting a great deal at $379.  You can find out more about the conference by visiting the conference webpage.

Book Study

Lead Like a Pirate - Introduction, Passion, & Immersion

We all heard Dave Burgess speak last year on Teach Like a Pirate.  He talked about the acronym of PIRATE and what that means for teaching.  Using the analogy of a pirate ship, the pirates are the hard working people that run the ship on a day to day basis, but all ships need a captain - a person to steer the ship and make decisions about course and destination.  Lead Like a Pirate is about how our leaders can use the PIRATE principles to steer the ship.  Don't assume this book is only for principals, it's applicable for anyone in a leadership role.

This week, we are going to talk about the P and I in the PIRATE acronym: Passion and Immersion.  Shelley Burgess starts the Passion chapter with a quote by Simon Sinek, "Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion" (Burgess, 3).  I think this quote is so true!  As educators and leaders, we need to reframe our thinking about what we consider "work".  Dave Burgess asked educators the same three questions, but in different terms:

1. Specific to leadership, what are you most passionate about? (Content Passion)
2. Within the profession of education, but not specific to leadership, what are you passionate about? (Professional Passion)
3. Outside of your profession, what are you passionate about? (Personal Passion)

The "I" in PIRATE stands for Immersion.  Immerse yourself in whatever you are doing.  This section talks about how to do that, but more importantly talks about how to free up time in order to fully immerse yourself in whatever it is that you are leading.  Burgess uses another acronym here; LEAD:

Leverage Systems
Elevate the Impact
Activate a Team
Delete, Delete, Delete

Leverage Systems - Find what tasks take up most of your time.  Are there systems that can be improved upon, or new systems that can be created to alleviate the time it takes for the task.

Elevate the Impact - Think about low impact tasks that do take up your time.  Can we make these tasks more impactful?  For example; lunch duty - instead of simple supervision, can you use this time to strengthen relationships with kids?  Deal with misbehavior from earlier in the day?  Elevate it's impact.

Activate a Team - Recognize the tasks that can be accomplished by a team and activate a team.

Delete, Delete, Delete - Sometimes you just have to lighten your load.  What are you doing to yourself to suck precious time away from the impactful tasks?

Next time we will cover the rest of the PIRATE acronym (RATE).

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

MRVED Update - September 11, 2019

MRVED Business

Upcoming Meetings

September 11, 2019 - MRVED Board (6:00 p.m.)
September 11, 2019 - Community Ed Directors
September 13, 2019 - Principals' Council
September 17, 2019 - TAC
September 20, 2019 - Title III Paras
September 25, 2019 - Superintendents' Council
September 27, 2019 - Title III Teachers

Important Dates 2019-20 School Year

October 16, 2019 - Common Inservice Day
January 20, 2020 - MELT Conference at LQPV
April 9, 2020 - Common Inservice Day

October 16, 2019 Common Inservice Day

Registration will be sent out next week!  Please watch your email for the registration link😀

The morning will be a presentation by Willow Sweeney Flaherty on
Social Emotional Learning.  The afternoon will be district time focused on Social Emotional Learning implementation.

Welcome Back

Some of you have been back for a month already, while some of you are into your 2nd week.  Welcome back to the 2019-2020 school year.  Each year brings new excitement as new children fill your classroom.  The MRVED wishes that each of you has your best year ever!

What is the MRVED?

For those of you that are new or for those of you have need a recap.  The Minnesota River Valley Education District (MRVED) is a consortium of nine school districts in Southwest/Western Minnesota.  The districts include Benson, Dawson-Boyd, Lac qui Parle Valley, Lakeview, Minneota, Montevideo, Ortonville, Renville County West, and Yellow Medicine East.  Our goal is to help our member districts achieve their goals.  To do this, the MRVED offers a wide variety of services to their member districts, including, but not limited to; professional development, grant writing, strategic planning, online learning, etc...  If you need anything, don't hesitate to ask.

Summer Recap

The MRVED staff was busy all summer between summer school at the ALC, planning for the upcoming school day, providing a workshop for substitutes, among other regular duties.  One of the highlights of the summer was being able to train 10 people interested in becoming a substitute teacher.  Substitute teachers can be so difficult to find, so in an effort to increase the pool, we decided to start offering these trainings.  The MRVED will continue to offer substitute teacher training a couple times a year.  If you know of someone with a 4-year degree and is currently looking for some part-time work, subbing is perfect for them!

The MRVED also debuted a new website.  It is a work in progress, but things are up and running.  In the near future, there will be directions on how to sign-up for announcements via text message from the MRVED.

MRVED 30th Anniversary

The MRVED celebrated 30 years of existence this past summer.  The core of the organization has stayed the same with collaboration playing a large role in the efforts of the MRVED.  However, faces, goals, initiatives, have all changed over the course of the years and will continue to evolve over the next 30 years.

Lead Like a Pirate

Each year we examine a few books in the update.  Typically a chapter or two is covered every two weeks, so it is very easy to follow along.  Brandon provides his thoughts on the chapter along with a quick synopsis of what was written.  Brandon's writing is by no means a substitute for reading the book.  This Fall, Brandon will be taking a look at the book, Lead Like a Pirate by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf.  If the title sounds familiar, it should!  Last year, we had the opportunity to hear from Shelley's husband, Dave on his book Teach Like a Pirate.

Even if you are not an administrator, this is a great book for any leader.  You could be your PLC leader, lead negotiator, head baseball coach, etc... This book is going to offer simple bits of advice on how to lead a team of people.  In the next update, we will examine the first two chapters on Passion and Immersion.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

MRVED Update - May 15, 2019

MRVED Business

Upcoming Meetings

May 22, 2019 - Superintendents' Advisory Council
May 28, 2019 - Title III Meeting
June 12, 2019 - MRVED Board Meeting
June 26, 2019 - Superintendents' Advisory Council

Important Dates 2019-20 School Year

August 14, 2019 - Paraprofessional Conference in Benson
October 16, 2019 - Common Inservice Day
January 20, 2020 - MELT Conference at LQPV
April 9, 2020 - Common Inservice Day

Summer Vacation

This is the last update of the 2018-19 school year.  We hope you gained something from reading the update this past school year.  We look forward to seeing you all again next year.  Take some time for yourself this summer, get recharged and ready to rock the 2019-20 school year!  The MRVED staff is around all summer, so please stop by and say hello!  The candy dish is always full.  Enjoy your summer.

2019 Tallgrass BioBlitz

The BioBlitz is an amazing day where the curious pair up with local experts to learn about and identify as many native species as possible in a specific area in a given amount of time.  It's a day of bugs and plants, exciting finds and shared experiences.
When: June 22, 8 am to 6 pm
Where: Big Stone Lake State Park
Cost: Suggested contribution $25 for an individual $50 for a family

Registration: Cure Website

Event Flyer

Summer Reading List

For the past few years I have been putting together a summer reading list for educators.  I have had many people tell me they enjoy and use the list, so here is your Summer 2019 reading list.

Ditch That Textbook by Matt Miller (If you didn't read along with me this winter)

Powerful Teaching by Wendy Schoolmeester, Rhonda Bonnstetter, Mary Risacher, Sonya Vierstraete

Lead Beyond Your Title by Nili Bartley

Educated by Design by Michael Cohen (Not Trump's Lawyer, Michael Cohen)

The Revolution by Darren Ellwein & Derek McCoy

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

MRVED Update - May 1, 2019

MRVED Business

Upcoming Meetings

May 22nd - Superintendents' Advisory Council

June 12th - MRVED Board Meeting
June 26th - Superintendents' Advisory Council

August 14th - Paraprofessional Conference     *Registration information will be sent out soon.

April 18th MRVED Common Inservice Day

The MRVED staff would like to thank everyone who participated in our April 18, 2019, MRVED Common Inservice Day.  From the evaluations, it appears that the presenters were beneficial to our districts.  We appreciate your feedback in the evaluations as they are reviewed by our MRVED staff, administrators, and the Teacher Advisory Council.

Social Emotional Learning Handouts

A couple of people requested the handouts that were provided at the Social Emotional Learning training with Chad Harlander.  If you would like the handouts, please contact Karen or Brandon at the MRVED and they will be sure to get you what you need.

MRVED - Did You Know

The MRVED offers online learning to our 9 member school districts.  Each district offers at least one course to be taught online that anyone from our other schools can take.  All our courses are elective credits and have helped fill needs in some districts, while providing additional options for others.  Enrollment each semester runs between 60-80 students typically.  You can find additional information about our online learning program at the MRVED website.

  • Provide additional course offerings to students without a loss in revenue for member districts.
  • Create opportunities for students to experience learning in an online learning environment.
  • Provide professional development for educators in the areas of online learning, personalized learning, and integration of technology to increase student learning.
  • Promote and support educators in using online tools to individualize, differentiate, and personalize student learning.

Chad Greenway's "Day to REACH" Football Camp

Please join All Pro Chad Greenway of the Minnesota Vikings and the Hutchinson REACH
Program for a team building experience. Campers will build their football knowledge along with key motivational elements needed to succeed in all aspects of life.

Ages: 2019-20 4th-6th and 7th-9th Graders
Date: June 20 & 21
Time: 9:00-1:45
Cost: $50 (Includes Lunch and T-shirt)

End of the Year Activities

As the end of the year approaches and MCA tests have concluded, teachers seem to be looking for engaging activities for their classrooms.  Here are a couple places to find some great activities.

Tech Tip of the Week - Khan Academy Kids

If you have kids ages 2-6 or you work with kids in that age range, check out Khan Academy Kids.  Khan Academy Kids is an app designed to help kids learn in a personalized and fun way.  It offers a robust curriculum with a holistic approach to learning.  Take a look today!

Ditch That Textbook - Conclusion

We have spent most of 2019 examining the book, Ditch That Textbook by Matt Miller.  If you are a teacher of any age kid, I highly suggest buying this book.

Ditch That Textbook really is not fully about ditching the textbook, but rather more about how you can create effective and engaging lessons for all students.  One could still utilize the textbook as a supplement and I would argue could still be a tool in the classroom, just like your devices or a ruler.  The great thing about this book is that is might question some of your own philosophies of teaching, but that's OK.  This world would be pretty boring if we all agreed with one another.  Learn from it...grow from it.

Ditch That Textbook is a well-written book that is PACKED with great ideas and practical advice.  It's written so people can understand it.  It's not packed with research and/or numbers, but Miller uses his space wisely to give you ideas.  The chapters are short and the reading is fast.  One could read this book easily in a couple sittings.  It would also make for a good book study.  If you ever get a chance to see Matt Miller, take the opportunity.

If you have any book suggestions for next year, please send them to Brandon (  He's currently looking for a book to highlight in the update next year.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

MRVED Update - April 17, 2019

MRVED Business

Upcoming Meetings

Upcoming Meetings

April 18th - MRVED Common Inservice Day
April 24th - Superintendents' Advisory Council
April 24th - MRVED Board Meeting

April 18th Common Inservice Day

The spring MRVED Common Inservice Day will be held on April 18, 2019, at the Dawson-Boyd Schools. You will be welcomed with coffee, juice, and muffins to begin your day, compliments of your administration.  For those individuals who are participating, you should have received an email with detailed information regarding the day.  Once you arrive, please come to the registration table near the commons area to pick up your registration packet.  This packet includes room numbers, clock, hours, and lunch ticket, if applicable.  Please enter through Door #4. 

We look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow!

(Please Note: Districts not participating in the inservice due to a school make-up day: Minneota/Ivanhoe, Ortonville, YME)

MRVED - Did You Know - Strategic Plan

The MRVED went through the strategic planning process a couple years ago.  Below you will find the mission and goals of the MRVED.

The mission of the Minnesota River Valley Education District is to effectively and efficiently assist member districts in meeting the goals they have set for themselves, their students, and their staff.

Goal One: Educational Success
Implement a level of services that will lead to the educational success of MRVED’s various stakeholders.

We are committed to the development and implementation of high quality programs that enhance the educational success of the students and staff members of the MRVED school districts.

1. Provide a broad spectrum of professional development activities that enable all staff members to grow in their professional craft.

2. Work with member districts in the development of mentorship programs to develop the professional and leadership capacity of staff members within the MRVED school districts.

3. Provide ongoing technology training to meet the varied needs of the member districts to keep staff and students engaged in learning.

4. Through partnerships, provide high quality broadband connectivity to the MRVED districts.

Goal Two: Collaboration
Provide leadership for our member districts to connect the educational needs of each diverse school by focusing on staff and student success.

We believe that by working collectively as a MRVED district, we can efficiently increase opportunities and cultivate a culture of professional relationships.

1. Provide opportunities for each district to collaborate and share resources to meet the needs of our students and staff to promote their success.

2. Increase resources to benefit member districts.

3. Continuously gather information from stakeholders to provide direction in identifying a common vision and identifying unmet needs.

4. Recognize and facilitate collaboration between districts.

Goal Three: Engagement
Engage all member districts to increase awareness, connectedness, and enhance communication in an effort to foster a cohesive partnership for educators.

 We believe investment by member districts is essential to MRVED’s success.

1. Communicate in an effective and consistent manner with and amongst internal and external stakeholders.

2. Utilize multiple approaches to encourage connectedness across districts and facilitate collaboration.

3. Establish clear leadership roles and responsibilities to enhance participation and expectation of member districts.

4. Inform and advocate use of the multiple MRVED resources/services.

Student Mental Health

MREA did a nice write-up of the joint house hearing on student mental health and the shortage of mental health workers in our schools.  The statistics are staggering in this area and it is well worth the read to become educated about this huge issue facing our schools.
  • 50 percent of student mental issues begin before age 14.
  • 20 percent of students age 14-18 will live with a mental health issue.
  • 1 in 5 students had a symptom of depression in the last two weeks.
  • Suicide is now the second leading cause of death in people aged 10-34.
Check out the article and the corresponding files and slides that go with it.

Tech Tip of the Week - PDF Tools

If you are like me, you beg, borrow, and steal from the internet.  Sometime you come across files that are in PDF format and you want to do something else with them.  There are two great online tools to help you work with your PDF.  Check them out today!

PDF Candy
Clever PDF

Ditch That Textbook - Section 4 Ditch That Curriculum

Chapters 34 to the end of the book are interesting chapters to read.  They really give the reader the map to ditch your textbook.  Miller uses the analogy of being a pilot and taking your kids on a journey.

Chapter 34 is about establishing your philosophy.  Miller says, "The motivation to ditch that textbook isn't only - or even mostly - driven by a desire to go's about purpose.  What do you want to do with the powerful platform you've been given? (Miller, 198)"  Having a clear understanding of who you are and what you want your students to be is the first step to ditching that textbook.  Miller says to use the following questions to help determine your purpose:

  • What kind of teacher are you?
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • What do you want your students to be known for?
  • What do you want your students to be able to do at the end of the year?
  • What skills do they need to develop for success?
  • What discussion do they need to have to cultivate new ideas?
The next chapter Miller writes about establishing your mission statement.  He talks about creating a one word mission statement that guides everything you do in your room.  Miller says, "What is your mission?  What one word encapsulates what you want to accomplish this year? (Miller, 203)"  For example, his word was "create" one year.  He wanted to create more and he wanted his students to create more.  Everything he did was centered around this one word.  Think about, for next year, what one word do you want for your mission statement?
He ends the book by talking about planning and learning from failures.  Utilize some form of curriculum map to guide your process of ditching your textbook.  Backwards plan with the end in mind.  When your plan blows up in your face, learn from it, grow from it.  It can be really easy to drop what you are doing and go back to your textbook.  Don't!  Fight through it and fail forward.  Failure is bound to happen, expect it and react accordingly.  Miller says your students will forgive and forget.