Archive for May, 2018

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Poetry is Risky Business

May 31, 2018

Poetry Writing Workshop – Farnsworth Art Museum

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Variations on the National Anthem

May 30, 2018

Rachel Flowers

Hearing is Believing

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MALI Teacher Leader Story: Dorie Tripp

May 29, 2018

Music Educator 

This is one of several blog posts in 2018 that include stories of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 7 Teacher Leaders and Teaching Artist Leaders. This series includes a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about each leader. CLICK HERE  for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE  for more information on the 93 Teacher Leaders and 8 Teaching Artist Leaders. CLICK HERE  for Arts education resources. CLICK HERE  for the MALI Resource Bank. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past teacher leader stories. Thank you Dorie for sharing your story!

Dorie Tripp is a National Board Certified Teacher in Early/Middle Childhood Music. For the last nine years she has taught PK-5 general music and beginner band in RSU #38, (Maranacook Schools). She splits her time between Manchester and Readfield Elementary Schools where she teaches approximately 400 young students each week.

What do you like best about being a music educator?

The great thing about being a music teacher, is having the privilege to watch my students develop over time, and create a love for music that will last them a lifetime. I have the pleasure of teaching my students year after year, for as many as seven years. I love that I get to help plant the seeds for love and success in the performing arts. It gives me so much pride when I see my students in Middle or High School concerts, musicals, and festivals. Watching my students shine, find their voice, feel accepted, or even find a passion is what keeps me going.

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

There are so many aspects to a successful performing arts education, which makes it difficult to pinpoint any one thing. As we all know, educational strategies and practices aren’t “one size fits all” and what works for one school community may not be appropriate for another. I know this from experience, as in the last nine years of my career I have worked in two very different communities. One being a large, urban school district with challenges like over-crowded schools, homelessness and poverty, and overcoming language barriers (to name a few). The other a small, rural district, small class sizes, and a high level of community involvement. Both do a tremendous job to address challenges and celebrate successes every day, but often in very different ways. If I had to choose three overarching themes, however, I could easily name community, collaboration, and advocacy.

Dorie presenting at the MALI Mega conference, Oxford Hills, March 2018

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

I have found assessment to be helpful as an informative teaching tool. The moment I shifted my thinking in using assessment solely to “grade” my student’s achievement to tracking student growth, my practice has become much more effective. I use formative assessment every day in my classroom to understand what my students are learning, to solve problems, and provide more practice with the skills embedded in our curriculum. I use assessment data to differentiate my instruction to the needs of my students, guide my unit plans, and adjust my pacing. I have absolutely gained a more focused picture of my students, and how they learn as individuals.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the Maine Arts Leadership initiative?

I started with the Maine Arts Leadership initiative as a music teacher just looking for quality professional development (PD). I have always had great luck with workshops at Maine All-State Festival, but I wanted PD that I could attend earlier on in the school year. I found myself at a MALI mega conference, and was not disappointed! I was able to network with other local teachers, while taking away information and strategies that I could apply in my classroom right away, before the end of the school year.

After that, I became curious about the Teacher Leadership Initiative, and filled out an application for Phase 7. When submitting my application, I had no idea how much growth I would make as an educator in just one year. The support I received from MALI has been incredible. I was able to create a personalized plan of action, which included sharing my elementary teaching practices with others in a workshop, and saw it come to life. Through this process, I have found a network of supportive colleagues who inspire me to contribute all I can to the profession. For me, personally, the greatest benefit is that I have found my voice, and have been empowered to use it.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud of my students. Although I have been in this profession for nine years, I am still humbled by my students. They grow, and learn, and change into these amazing human beings with talents and ideas that just blow me away. It’s really nice to realize that you’ve had a role in that, even if just a very small one.

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

The more obvious things that get in the way of doing a better job or being a better teacher is time and money. I feel like all educators, no matter the content area, can relate. The less obvious thing that gets in the way is the lack of collaboration or idea sharing with other educators. It’s easy to stay inside our own little bubble, and never open ourselves to other ideas or partnerships. I believe that reflective practice is best when it’s combined with observations and mentorships with other great teachers. This is often difficult to practice as arts educators, however, because even if we want to branch out and team up with/learn from others, so many of us would have to go outside our school or district. Not all of us have other colleagues in our buildings who do what we do. This is why organizations like MALI are so beneficial. We need the time and resources to get together with other educators to share ideas, network, and work together on projects that can/will help us do our jobs better.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

As you can probably tell, I am a big fan of educator collaboration and support. I try to team up and work with others, in and outside the arts, whenever I get a chance. During my concerts each year, the majority of my school staff come back and volunteer their time to help me with set up, the shuffle of students, and tear down. I always hear “You’re so lucky to have such supportive parents, colleagues, and administrators”. Yes, it’s true that I am lucky, but I also work really hard for this fortune. I strive to maintain positive work relationships with my colleagues. I volunteer to help out with other events that are not music related. I try to stay flexible and understanding when other school activities disrupt my schedule, just like my events sometimes disrupt others. I share activities and materials with other classrooms, collaborate on cross-curricular activities, and volunteer to cover a duty now and again. I even give private saxophone lessons to our evening custodian once a week, as a small token of thanks for all the extra work he puts in setting up and tearing down equipment for our six performances each year.  All of this is extra work, but I understand that without this collaborative environment, I am just one person, and would not be able to complete all of my tasks alone. All of this is in the best interest of my students, and ultimately my program.

Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?

I would say, don’t get too caught up on standards and assessments. They are important factors of what we do, but they aren’t everything. They are just tools we use to see and reach the big picture goals. Listen to your students, and don’t be afraid to make learning fun. Make it feel good for students, and they will develop a life-long love for music.

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

After paying off some school debt (I know I’m not alone here…), I would definitely use it to help students access music. I would purchase instruments and pay enrollment fees for students to participate in music festivals, camps and programs. My family went through great hardships when I was growing up, and I was fortunate to have a music teacher who made sure that those financial troubles would not interfere with my musical potential. I am so grateful for her, and others who made it happen. Without them, I would not be the music educator that I am today.

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

I try not to have regrets. All things that have happened in my life were for learning purposes. However, I hope that I won’t look back and worry that I spent too much time working about professional evaluations and certification requirements, and that I can say I always worked hard to give my students what they deserve.

 

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Teaching Artist Professional Development

May 28, 2018

MAC offers workshop June 22

Teaching Artists Brian Evans-Jones, Karen Brooks, Tim Christensen, and Dana Legawiec

PreK-12 Teaching Artist Professional Development Workshop

The Maine Arts Commission (MAC) invites Teaching Artists to a one day professional development opportunity on Friday, June 22, 2018, 8:45 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. The workshop will take place at Viles Mansion/Governor Samuel Cony House, 71 Stone Street, Augusta. The cost is $25.00 and the workshop is limited to 20. REGISTRATION is available.

Whether you are a veteran teaching artist looking to build on your practices and expand your reach in the PK through grade 12 environment, or a new teaching artist looking to be included on the Teaching Artist Roster and start working in the schools or community arts programs – this workshop is for you!

PURPOSE

Teaching Artists Tim Christensen, Tom Luther, Brian Evans-Jones

The workshop is focused on the role and benefits of a teaching artist. We will address how to structure and market a residency as well as tips for communicating and collaborating with educators (including teachers and administrators), and community arts representatives.

OUTCOMES

  • Information on applying your expertise as an artist to the structuring of your lessons and residencies.
  • Hands-on experience in relating the learning standards and assessments to your work.
  • Participation in sessions that are planned to fit your needs as a teaching artist.
  • Promoting yourself and your work as a teaching artist.

WORKSHOP FACILITATORS

  • Argy Nestor – Director of Arts Education, Maine Arts Commission
  • Brian Evans-Jones – Poet and Creative Writing Teacher and Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teaching Artist Leader
  • John Morris – Teaching Artist/Dance Educator, member of MALI Design Team
  • Kate Smith – Pre-K-3 Music Educator Central Elementary School, So. Berwick, member of MALI Design Team
  • Kris Bisson – Grades 6-8 Music Educator Marshwood Middle School, MALI Teacher Leader

John Morris

Learn more about the MAC Teaching Artist programand visit the Teaching Artist roster.

5.5 teacher contact hours are available for attending all day on June 22.

NOTE: In order to apply for the MAC Teaching Artist Roster, artists are required to attend the workshop on June 22. The Commission will be accepting applications for the roster in the fall of 2018.

If you have any questions please contact Argy Nestor at argy.nestor@maine.gov.

If you need a special accommodation to fully participate in this event please contact Kathy Shaw at kathy.shaw@maine.gov by June 8.

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Virtual Choir

May 27, 2018

You Will Be Found

From Japan to Norway, fans from 31 countries around the world have lent their hearts and talents to the “You Will Be Found” Virtual Choir, proving once again that every voice matters.

Wikipedia information

Dear Evan Hansen is a stage musical with music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and a book by Steven Levenson.[1]

The musical opened on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre in December 2016, after its world premiere at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC, in July 2015 and an Off-Broadway production in March to May 2016.

The titular character, Evan Hansen, is a high school senior with severe social anxiety, which inhibits his ability to connect with other people and make friends. After the death of one of his classmates, he fabricates a lie that inadvertently brings him closer to the classmate’s family, while also allowing him to gain his own sense of purpose.

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Love Classical Music

May 26, 2018

Benjamin Zander

It really makes a different what we say…. Two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us all realize our untapped love for it — and by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, new connections.

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Arts Learning Grant Recipient

May 25, 2018

The Telling Room

The Telling Room is a recipient of an Arts Learning grant this year from the Maine Arts Commission. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to visit their site in Portland not long ago. It was charged with creativity and excitement for learning. While visiting a group of students from the Biddeford Schools Gifted and Talented program were participating in a lesson. I had the opportunity to observe, participate, and speak to the participants. I also had the chance to meet with the staff and they kindly followed up with information that is included in this blog post. Thank you all for your contributions!
Suzanne Tighe, Biddeford teacher, has worked with the Telling Room staff for three years.
IN SUZANNE’S OWN WORDS
Thank you for helping to support the Telling Room. This is my 3rd year bringing students to the Telling Room or having them come to my school. My students always look forward to the visits.  My 5th graders this year did not get to visit with Marjo and they were so disappointed. She has been my contact person for the past three years. She has always made it a point to get to know the students and they feel that connection. One of my boys, a reluctant writer, was so looking forward to working with Marjo this part Monday. He wanted her to be the one to help him develop his writing.
I feel that the greatest benefit for the students is the level of investment they have in their writing after working with them. This interest and excitement about writing is then transferred to their every day writing. The students never know who they will be able to work with; a writer, photographer, a musician, artist or poet. This allows my students to work with adults who have a range of interests. Many of my students play musician interments or are gifted in the visual arts.  The opportunity to work with these artists is a wonderful experience.
For myself, its a great way to see some new ideas or see some old techniques reinvented. This allows me to use these techniques with other students. Its also an opportunity to talk about writing with a colleague and share ideas.

Marjolaine Whittlesey is a Teaching Artist Associate

Marjolaine Whittlesey is a Teaching Artist Associate at the Telling Room and worked with Suzanne’s students at the school and again on the day I visited at the Telling Room.

IN MARJOLAINE’S OWN WORDS
During a field trip to the Telling Room students get to experience the art of writing in a greater context than what they see in the classroom. They get to work alongside adult writers and see the plethora of publishing done by peers their age and other students from around the state. When they walk into our space they often comment on how it feels comfortable and creative, “like my home.”

Our space and our programing serves to create a safe space for each student to explore their own unique voice, which opens them up to their creative selves. Our programs often start with generative work that allows each student to find a way into the writing process. Our activities and warm ups strive to reach various learning types so that any student can feel inspired and successful. Our focus on writing as mostly rewriting is a skill that will serve any student throughout their whole life. We present revision as focused play rather than tedious work. Hopefully that sticks!

My hope is that each student remembers the excitement and pride they felt around writing and sharing. I hope that they can remember specific details about what they wrote or heard in others’ stories. Even if they can’t remember an exact writing exercise, my goal is that each student leaves a TR program being more curious about the world and their experience in it.

Students come to The Telling Room on a Field Trip with their class as a three hour experience. I love to hear when they return to school and continue to work on the pieces they started during the Field Trip and it becomes a bigger part of their classroom experience back at school. We had one student enjoy the writing they did with us in their Field Trip so much that they asked to return to The Telling Room for a Summer Camp — and then they followed that up with a semester-long afterschool program! They discovered that they loved to write and found a space to continue developing that love at The Telling Room.
Nick Schuller is the Program Director at The Telling Room.
IN NICK’S OWN WORDS
Sometimes we hear that “today’s young people” have difficulty receiving feedback or being told “no,” and that constant exposure to screens impedes their natural curiosity. Our work in field trips like this one counteracts those concerns: rather than shutting down because of constructive criticism, our young writers are encouraged to see an opportunity for new creative expression. We hope they’ll see that inviting diverse voices into the feedback process can foster collaboration and ultimately the product will be stronger as a result.

I always hope that we light a spark, and that field trip attendees will go back to school with a new energy for writing. I also hope that all of the students received a confidence boost from knowing that they can engage in the revision process and come out feeling encouraged.

Sarah Schneider is the Development Director at the Telling Room.
IN SARAH’S OWN WORDS
The opportunity to encounter writing in a new way—either through games and activities, other art forms like theater and performance, or simply being in a new space with time to write—can free up students to think in new ways and engage their imagination. Even reluctant writers often begin to open up in a field trip as they learn and practice writing a story they want to tell and that people will be eager to hear.

One of the key things students get to do with us, even on field trips, is share their writing—a whole piece, or even just a word or a sentence—with their peers. Getting a chance to share the story or poem they’ve been working on with an audience is a big part of building confidence. I hope that students remember that they can be bold and take a leap out of their comfort zone—in both writing and sharing their work—to discover things they didn’t know were inside them and to share their stories and voices with all of us.

Celine Kuhn is the Executive Director at the Telling Room.
IN CELINE’S OWN WORDS
I hope that students will remember that we offered them a safe and creative space to write for fun, tell their stories and find their voice. What we do every day is equip kids to succeed in and out of school.
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