The Future of Learning in Kalispell Public Schools


What does learning look like when it’s personalized for each student?

Should school be seven hours a day, five days a week; or can the goals be achieved at a different pace or timeframe? Should learning take place within the walls of a classroom?

Should schools be separated by grade levels, or is there flexibility for accelerated learners? Who should lead the learning – the student, the teacher and the student, the teacher alone, or do the textbooks and the curriculum dictate?

These are some of the questions Kalispell Public Schools will be asking as they venture into a years-long process with the goal of transforming “the way school is done.”

“Maybe you don’t need to spend 180 days in a siege to be competent,” said Kalispell Superintendent Micah Hill. “Not everyone learns at the same time, in the same place.”

Helping to fund the process are state grants for Transformational Learning, Montana Advanced Opportunity, and Workforce Development.

According to the Montana Office of Public Instruction, “transformational learning is defined as a flexible system of student-centered learning that is designed to meet Montana’s constitutional mandate to ‘fully develop[ing] individual’s educational potential.

While the questions aren’t groundbreaking — and there are plenty of schools across the state and nationwide “doing school differently” to glean insights — systematic change, even at the local level, is a daunting task. .

“That’s why my timeline spans six years,” Hill said. “We’re trying to do more, or better, and what does that look like?”

At the start of the process, administrators want people to think big.

“If this was your Disneyland, what would it look like? is a question he asks teachers in particular.

During the first year, the district will work to define and share a vision by listening and reflecting on ideas from stakeholders.

“From a process perspective, we want to share the vision of what the school can be with stakeholders,” Hill said.

The district will kick off the conversation with the community during listening sessions hosted by elementary and middle school staff on March 10 and 16 to explain the effort. Kalispell Deputy Superintendent Matt Jensen said the sessions will be a time for presenters and attendees to share what the schools are doing well, what needs improvement, and offer ideas on how to improve the educational process. .

While asking people to think big at the start, at the end of the day there are constraints.

“I use the analogy of a six-lane highway. There are still guardrails — standards, rules, state laws — but you have ramps, turn lanes, slow lanes, and fast lanes, all moving in different directions,” he said. -he declares.

The Transformational Learning Project is linked to a five-year strategic planning process currently underway that will serve as a roadmap for improving student educational outcomes by examining the district’s vision, mission/purpose, beliefs, and goals. Facilitator Darlene Schottle is compiling feedback from listening sessions held in January and an online survey, which will be presented at a board meeting in the coming months.

Transformational Learning Listening Sessions

March 10

— 6 p.m. at Peterson Elementary, 1119 Second St. W. (Peterson and Elrod Schools will present)

March 16

— 5:30 p.m. at Rankin Elementary, 2155 Airport Road, (Rankin and Hedges schools will be present).

— 6 p.m. at Edgerton Elementary, 1400 Whitefish Stage Road, (Russell and Edgerton Schools will present).

— 6 p.m. at Kalispell Middle School, 205 Northwest Lane.

Reporter Hilary Matheson can be reached at 406-758-4431 or by email at [email protected]

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