Archive for the ‘Integration’ Category

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Real STEAM

November 4, 2019

OK – Go upside down and inside out

OK Go Sandbox is an online resource for educators that uses the Grammy Award-winning band OK Go’s music videos as starting points for students to explore various STEAM concepts. OK Go Sandbox will be presenting at the National Art Education conference in Minneapolis, March 26-28, 2020. Registration is available.

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National Art Ed Conference

October 30, 2019

Registration open

National Art Education Association conference, March 26-28, 21020, Minneapolis. REGISTRATION IS OPEN!

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Portland Stage

October 12, 2019

Interactive Theatre for social change 

Consider providing a unique opportunity for your students to explore the intersection of art and social history? The Maine State Museum and Maine State Library invites you to join Portland Stage for an interactive Theatre for Social Change workshop exploring the images, concepts, and stories of the women’s suffrage movement. The workshop is designed to put the stories of the movement into the hands and hearts of students, allowing them to examine their personal connection to the struggles and victories of the past.  Each workshop session will begin with an educator-led introduction the museum’s exhibition Women’s Long Road – 100 Years to the Vote.

What

Theater for Social Change Workshops led by teaching artists from Portland Stage

Cost: FREE!

When

Monday, October 28 and on Tuesday, October 29 – same workshop each day, choose one date

Time

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM, schools are welcome to stay longer and use our atrium space for lunch

Where

Maine State Museum & Maine State Library both located at 230 State Street, Augusta

Who & How Many 

The workshop is designed for middle & high school students; workshops are limited to 30 students per workshop

Questions/RSVP

Joanna Torow, Chief Educator, Maine State Museum Joanna.torow@maine.gov 207-287-6608

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Education Reimagined

September 28, 2019

Vision

Education Reimagined is all about transforming education. They’ve been carefully proceeding with their commitment that “learner-centered education be available to every child, regardless of background or circumstance.” Twenty eight educators came together to create Education Reimagined with diverse backgrounds who are committed to future of education.

MISSION

SIMPLY PUT, the current system was designed in a different era and structured for a different society. Our economy, society, and polity are increasingly at risk from an educational system that does not consistently prepare all children to succeed as adults and is least effective for the children facing the greatest social and economic challenges. Conversely, the Internet revolution has created a once-in-a-generation opportunity for new approaches to learning. Our growing recognition of the importance of skills and dispositions is also sparking a shift toward expe- riential learning. In short, we see both an imperative for transformation and many promising avenues for re-envisioning the learning experience.

Recently Sweetland School in Hope was featured in online news for Education Reimagined. Sweetland School is a student-centered school inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach and by educators and artists such as John Dewey, Elliot Eisner, Lily Yeh, Paulo Freire, Howard Gardner, Alfie Kohn, Sir Ken Robinson. Sweetland School aims to remain open and flexible to change and the needs of the current times and community. Lindsay Pinchbeck is the founder and director and also teaches at Sweetland School. She has served on the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative leadership team.

Read about Sweetland on the Education Reimagined website.

Sweetland School

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Collective Wisdom

September 16, 2019

New School Year Advice

THIS WAS A POST FROM ONE YEAR AGO BUT WORTH RE-POSTING!

From the voices of veteran visual and performing arts educators on starting a new school year

Make it a delicious school year!

Whether you’re just starting to teach or you’ve been add it for 50 years or somewhere in between you might be excited out of your mind to start or having the back to school dreams and asking yourself “how the heck am I going to do this?!” or somewhere in between. I asked veteran teachers “what’s your message for new and veteran teachers starting off the school year?” Here they are – WORDS FROM THE WISE and EXPERIENCED! It’s an amazing, amazing (and amazing) collection. THANKS to everyone who contributed!

Collectively below is the wisdom of 654 + 65 years of teaching. These are not in any particular order!

Kate Smith – 21 years
Central School, South Berwick Music Educator, Grades PreK-3
-The first friends you should make are the secretaries and the custodians.
-Drink plenty of water.
-Advocate for transition time between classes (see above).
-Don’t take yourself too seriously.
-Take the time to know your students.
-Find an Arts mentor. (MALI teacher leaders are great!)
-Build/maintain/reach out to a network of teachers for a sense of community and just-in-time support.
-You are going to mess up and wish you could forget it all. Write it down instead. Some day it’ll make you laugh like crazy.

Jake Sturtevant – 14 years
Falmouth High School Music Educator
If there is one thing I have learned to do over the course of the time I have been teaching it is to breathe. The power of breath is so important, and it takes moments to do. I still have those feelings of being overwhelmed and always reaching for the surface of the water beneath the pile of to-dos and hope-to-dos, but now I just try to pause and take a breathe and allow that feeling to settle and often it moves further from me.

Jen Etter – 12 years
York Middle School Music Educator 
My biggest words of advice starting a new school year and something that I am attempting to be mindful of is to not lose sight of the big picture getting bogged down in the details. Education is ever changing and constantly evolving and that can be frustrating at times. Keep focused on the big picture and what you know to be important and always keep students at the center!
Patricia Gordan – 38 years
RSU#14 Windham Raymond, Music Educator
  1. I do not just teach music to children. I teach children through music.
  2. Whenever I get to the point where I begin to think I know what I’m doing, I gain more wisdom and realize I still don’t know what I’m doing. (Keeps me humble.)
  3. When I have a student who is a behavior challenge I try to get to know them better and build a relationship with them outside of class.
  4. Music is a vehicle for expressing all thoughts and emotions. It can be scary to share the sad and angry songs with students. Will I get negative feedback from parents? “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” is a song about death! Should I use it? Of course we should be tactful and careful, but songs in music class should cover all emotions.
  5. A musician must have the heart of a gypsy and the discipline of a soldier. -Beethoven – Some students will be really good at the heart thing and some will be really good at the discipline thing. Stretch them toward the other skill.
  6. Sometimes I have a hard time with the word, “fun.” Music is fun but it is also hard work. I want the students to have more than “fun.” I want to feed their souls. I want them to feel the natural high that comes from producing a fantastic product that is the result of extreme effort.
  7. Especially for elementary teachers – Listen very, very closely. The “music” is in there somewhere. 😊
Iva Damon – 11 years
Leavitt Area High School, Turner, Visual Art Educator
Going into this year I am really resonating with going “back to basics”. We’re here for the kids as they are at the heart of everything we do. Remembering that at the end of each day, I am able to make connections and help achieve steps in their learning. At the same time, this year I am going to work harder at self-care and making sure to take time for myself.
Holly Leighton – 11 years
Mattanawcook Academy, Lincoln, Visual Art Educator
Teaching is not something you learn and then implement for the next 30 years. It is a constant.

The more I learn the more I realize what I don’t know. It is the “what I don’t know” that drives me to learn more. This is how I grow as a person and educator. It is a continuous cycle that inspires a fresh outlook to each new school year. Take workshops and conference opportunities, no matter how long you have been teaching. After 20 years of teaching I am always come back with something I can use to positively affect student learning and engagement.

Cindi Kugell – 30 years
Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, South Paris, Visual Art Educator
Know your “Why”. When we focus on our reason for teaching, and for me it’s because there is nothing cooler than working with kids, it gives our lives purpose, clarity and focus. Working with kids keeps me young, inspired and energized and the gratification that I get from students excitement centered around the arts fuels my passion. I truly feel that teaching is my purpose.
Hope Lord – 29 years
Maranacook Community Middle School, Winthrop, Visual Art Educator
Each school year is a new opportunity for teachers to inspire students, innovate, take risks, collaborate, and celebrate the arts.
Adele Drake – 15 years
Hampden Academy Visual Art Educator
I believe in always being open to learning and receiving help and support from others.
Jane Snider – 27 years
Hancock Grammar School Art Educator
While working outside all day in my gardens to end my summer season I was thinking about all of my gardens, how much they had grown since early spring. I realized how much my teaching is like my gardening! Many plants are now in need of a rest, much like my students and I are in late Spring! I have nurtured the seedlings, plants and bushes throughout the season. I have carefully and thoughtfully helped them showcase their beauty! They’ll be back next year, bigger and brighter! Tomorrow I return to school to nurture my students and showcase the beauty of their learning through their art! I’ve had my rest and restored my spirit, I’m ready to carefully and thoughtfully begin a new season for my students! What do they need to grow and flourish?
Sue Barre – 26 years
Waterville Senior High School Music Educator 
Every year (on the advice of my first principal) I work to learn something about each of my students that has nothing to do with music. This process keeps me on my toes and it is also fun for my students to share their non music passions. I am often uplifted, sometimes saddened, and every so often astounded, to the response I can get from “share three things you did this summer.” My personal goal this year is to greet my students every day at the door……they deserve my attention, whether they are making music or not.
Carmel Collins – 20+ years
Lake Region High School, Naples, Dance Educator
Education today is like working with a living breathing organism. It is forever in a state of flux; morphing, refining, retracting, reshaping……Practice being flexible, adaptable and innovative, learn to let things go and move on, keep light on your feet and don’t get stuck in the mud!
When a parent or guardian becomes angry or frustrated with you, always remember that to them they are fighting for their child, a child they have loved and nurtured since birth. Most of the time they are not angry with you, rather it is the situation they are frustrated with and they are looking for help. Try to stay focused on the issue and don’t make it personal. Practice this and they will become your friend and loyal advocate.
Melanie Crowe –  17 years
Marshwood Middle School, Eliot, Visual Art Educator 
The anticipation of a new school year brings up so many emotions – a changing of the seasons, realizing summer is coming to an end, wiping sand off of my sandals for another season, and the vegetable garden bearing fewer treasures. Although, the excitement of meeting new students and having a chance to bring in a fresh approach and atmosphere to the classroom is a just as much a welcome adventure today as it was entering my first year 17 years ago. I am honored to share the art studio with my middle school artists, the opportunity to engage, challenge, and expand their minds is such a precious experience. The years go by in a blink of the eye, the students faces change, but the desire to light the flame of love for art grows stronger each year. I look forward to working with my colleagues integrating art in as many avenues as I can, bridging the gaps from one content to another so students can see how their learning is not in isolation but interconnected. When students can see how valued they are in the art studio, they begin to believe how valuable their art making experience is. I wish you all a wonderful school year working with the youth of Maine and beyond!
Lindsay Pinchbeck – 13 years
Sweetland School, Hope, Founder, Director, Teacher 
New Beginnings
An opportunity to start again
Still jitters – every year, conditioned since a child
Now knowing
The mix of wonder, unease and transition
Breathe
Fear not the unknown
Anthony Lufkin – 13 years
Friendship Village School, Prescott Memorial School, Union Elementary School, Rivers Alternative Middle School, RSU 40 
Every year is similar, but never the same. Each summer goes by faster and faster, but despite wish for more R&R, I always look forward to the new school year. Art and teaching are similar to me in that they are both all about making connections. In art we attempt to connect with artists of the past to understand their ideas, or we try to connect people with our own ideas and perspectives through creation. Teaching effectively requires making connections with students in a way that they can relate to, understand, and appreciate what we are teaching. If we lose connection, not only does artwork become insignificant to us, so does the purpose for learning. Each school year is an opportunity to make connections in new ways. Being in relatively the same position for several consecutive years gives me the insight for identifying ideas and processes that will relate to specific students. As I prepare to start my 12th year of teaching art, I am looking forward to “reusing” successful lessons, opportunities, and connections I have been able to make thus far.  However, I am also looking forward to experimenting with new ideas to better convey ideas, and give students new ways to understand, and more importantly connect, to what art has to offer.
Andrea Wollstadt – 21 years
John F. Kennedy Memorial School, Biddeford, Music Educator
Allow yourself to get caught up in the excitement. Students involved in music have a passion for music. Their joy and excitement is infectious. These kids are PUMPED UP about playing in an ensemble or participating in a music class. Whatever worries or anxieties you might have about the upcoming school year, make sure you give yourself a chance to catch some of their enthusiasm.
Lisa Marin – 22 years and retired!
Jonesport-Beals High School & Jonesport Elementary Visual Art Educator     
Words of wisdom for the new teacher: I remember that first year being very excited, nervous and worried about doing a good job for my new students, the school system, and my colleagues. I tried to get as much input as I could from my fellow art teacher friends, who were very gracious and generous with advice and materials. I was told to relax, have fun, and realize that it takes a few years to make the program your own. So, cut yourself some slack and you’ll be great. Oh yes, and make friends with the custodial staff. Their help over the years has been invaluable.
Words of wisdom for the veteran teachers: It may sometimes be hard to keep up the energy and enthusiasm in the face of new and increasing demands on your time that have little to do with quality teaching for students. I’ve tried to combat this by finding ways to shake up my lessons. I’m looking for ways to incorporate materials I’ve been unfamiliar with or slightly intimidated by to blow out the cobwebs! It’s been fun and I often find I am helped in my success by my students. We say we are all in this together!
For the soon to be retiring teachers (like me): Plan ahead for what you’d like to do post retirement. That will make the transition so much easier. This sounds like a no brainer but is often overlooked. As much as you might love your job remember, you do the job, you aren’t the job. A new teacher’s approach can be wonderful. We were once new teachers as well with fresh ideas. Enjoy your new year!
Shalimar Chasse – 26 years
Wiscasset Middle High School Visual Art Educator rk Middle School Music Educator 
I like to start right off with hands on- avoiding the loooooonnnnnnnngggggggg and boring “expectations” talk that mostly sounds like “wha wha wha wha, wha wha, wha wha” to students just waking up after a summer of sleeping in until noon. I refer students to my on-line site and a unit binder that holds class expectation information. I send them home with a parent guide to art class and encourage them to review this with their parents and return with a parent note confirming their time together and comments or questions. I encourage students to ask me any question to help them acclimate to our space and class while we are doing our first day art activity. Students know what is expected, some need reminding or clarification or simply to know they might not get away with something they have tested. They come to art to Do art- so I like to meet their expectations hoping they might return the gesture.I love the newness of a brand new school year- with no mistakes in it. I like to think of the upcoming year and classes as the best we will experience yet.
Allie Rimkunas – 15 years en Etter
Great Falls Elementary School, Gorham, Visual Art Educator 
Love your students. The most difficult ones need the most love. As an art teacher, I rarely know the home situations, or past trauma that these little ones might have or are still dealing with. I try to keep that in mind when I know a difficult student is coming into my room. Every day is a new day and a possibility for new positive interactions.
I have been teaching for 14 years, and every August brings a new batch of school anxiety dreams. Never fails. I figure that if I didn’t get them then I am not doing my job and changing it up enough.
Catherine Ring – 65 years
Isle au Haut Visual ArtEducator 
Share your passion for learning with children. It’s contagious!
Jane Kirton – 21 years
Sanford High School Music Educator 
Be Compassionate . . . Be consistent . . . CommunicateBe compassionate – Music is one of the few subjects that connects the heart and the brain. Showing compassion towards my students and my colleagues is who I am. The world is filled with so much pain, we don’t know what our students are going through at home. I take great pride in the fact that from day one I tell my students that my classroom is their home and we are a family.  No bullying is allowed. If there is a drama free atmosphere in the room, our music will sound better!  Show you care, smile (even though you are a nervous wreck). Don’t forget to be kind to yourself.  Take care of you – exercise, drink plenty of water, yoga, anything to relieve stress.

Be consistent – Consistency, in my eyes, is critical in good parenting. Set your classroom code of cooperation on day one and stand by it! Treat everyone the same. Discipline can be challenging for a new teacher. Discipline allows a successful start for the entire class. I always remind myself I can always ease up a bit as we get into the year but hold firm to your rules. Keep up with the paperwork (yes, there are certain things we need to do as part of the job which doesn’t have anything to do with what we teach – just “get it done,” don’t put it off.)

Communication – I always tell my students that I’m not a mind reader. I encourage them to tell me what’s going on. It is also important to communicate with them and their parents – concert schedule, paperwork, etc. Communicating with your colleagues is also important. I recently read a post where a new teacher was critical of older teachers in their district in the ways they were teaching. Not a great way to start!  We’re all in this together. Reach out and communicate.  Communicate with your administration, janitors, secretaries, etc. Ask if you don’t know!!

Rob Westerberg – 33 years
York High SchoolMusic Educator 
It’s not about the product, it’s about the process. Precious few are going to remember your concert or art exhibit or play or dance recital three years from now. But dozens of years from now every single participant will remember their journey with you to create that product, and whether or not you caused them to flourish academically and blossom personally. If you take care of those two things – on a daily basis – the rest will take care of itself. Academic without personal is tedious. Personal without academic is cheating them. Both combined is spot-on and will leave you at the end of the day feeling like it was all worth while. Because it will have been.
Charlie Johnson – 45 years
Mount Desert Island High School Visual Art Educator 
Get to know your learners; it is through positive connections that a teacher can discover that which is not always overt from an individual. We are all unique and we are all special, and if you endeavor to learn about your students in a positive manner, it goes a long way toward developing a teacher/learner relationship that benefits both parties.
I’m just starting my 45th teaching year, and I’m just as excited about my new students and classes as I was my first year, because I haven’t fallen into “the same old thing” trap and have many new pieces to explore with my students!
Barbie Weed – 15 years
Gray-New Gloucester Middle School Visual Art Educator 
I always find that the best way to begin a new school year is to forge connections with students as soon as possible. Whether students are returnees for new to the school, taking a little time to get to know something about them sets a positive tone for the whole year. I’m excited for the new experiences that students will bring to my classroom.
Jean Phillips – 30+ years
Wiscasset Middle High School English and Drama Educator
Life is an occasion; rise to it.
Lisa Ingraham – 13 years
Madison Elementary School Visual Art Educator 
Plan meticulously, but keep your mind open to teachable moments. Some of the best learning experiences in my art room began with a student question, interest, and/or aha! that changed our direction for that day.
I’m looking forward to a great, creative, messy year!
MaryEllen Schaper – 42 years and retired
Dance Educator 
Take your work seriously; don’t take yourself too seriously. The work is VERY important, but you can be replaced.
For new teachers, yes, you want to develop positive relationships with your students, but they are NOT your friends. If you need friends at work, develop friendships with your colleagues.
My former superintendent, used to say, “we are there to teach ALL children. Parents send us their best. They don’t keep “the good ones” home”.
We never know the baggage a student brings to school, so listen and be kind. Help students learn that that baggage may be a reason, but it shouldn’t be used as an excuse by the student, the teacher, or the parent. There’s a difference.
Applicable Lin Manuel Miranda “Hamilton” quotes:
“Why do you assume you’re the smartest in the room?” You might not be. I have learned A LOT from my students.
“I am not throwing away my shot.”  You have amazing opportunity to influence lives now and beyond anything in your wildest dreams, so go in EVERY DAY and give 100%.
“I am looking for a mind at work”. Teach your students to think outside the box, ask questions, and how to find answers, even if they might not be what you had in mind.
“Talk less. Smile more.”  Breathe. listen. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll see and hear.
“I wanna be in the room where it happens”.  You ARE in the room where it happens every day. Savor it. It goes by quicker than you’d think!
Lori Spruce – 11 years
Brewer High School Visual Art Educator 
Contribute to the knowledge and skills that you have not only in your own content area, but also expand out to involve your colleagues content areas as well. By doing so, you help not only yourself,  but also students and teachers can learn and grow in the same way. By getting out of your comfort zone and content area, the relationships that you build are invaluable and help build the confidence needed to model what you learn.
Pam Chernesky – 27 years
Mt. Blue High School, Farmington Visual Art Educator 
Start each school year open and ready to build a new community! Bring your best self and a positive attitude to what you do. Every year there will be new initiatives and demands on your teaching and your time, but the real focus should be meeting your students and sharing the excitement of creating and learning with them. Remember that you have content knowledge, passion, and experiences to share and that your students want to learn from you. Don’t become bogged down by the initiatives, administrative demands, or even the details of lesson plans. Offer challenges and take risks in your classroom! Laugh with your students!  Have fun!
Kris Bisson – 17 wonderful years!
Marshwood Middle School, Director of Choruses 
No matter what type of learners you have in your classroom, every student needs understanding.

When I’m excited about what I’m teaching, my students are excited about what I’m teaching!

Theresa Cerceo – 16 years
Dr. Levesque Elementary School & Wisdom Middle High School, MSAD # 33 Visual Art Educator
Trust your instincts, value your strengths and keep yourself open to learning new things.
Danette Kerrigan – 14 years
Sacopee Valley Middle School Visual Art Educator 
Every year is different, but poses the possibility of new discovery and greatness. Every year is the same – the same bright expectant eyes, sleepy heads, hugs and growth. Starting a new year is never boring, always keeping me on my toes, yet is as exciting as opening a new box of crayons… the possibilities are endless. Fashions change, expectations change, requirements change, students stay the same – still needing reassurance, encouragement, celebration and a champion.
For new and veteran teachers – breathe. Embrace each day and reflect at the end on what went well and be honest about what did not. Remember that everyone has something to offer, even those adults who may try your patience. They too, got up this morning, hoping to do the right thing. Assume good intentions. Always apologize – even to students – especially to students – when you have had a bad day and spoke shortly when you shouldn’t have. Remember that you are making an impact you don’t even know about yet.
Rick Osann – 15 years and retired
Bonny Eagle High School Media, Theatre, and Visual Arts Educator 
Be sure to be yourself. Teaching can be really stressful and it’s easy to try to be different to either be the “perfect teacher” or to get your students to “like” you.  The most important thing is to feel comfortable in your own skin.  Students of any age recognize quickly if you’re not being true to your core beliefs. Students will respect you if you just be yourself.
Bill Buzza – 26 years
Edward Little High School Music Educator 

Some words of advice for the beginning of the year:

#1 – Take time to get organized. We get so busy and there are many demands on our time. Using an organizational system that works for you allows you to spend more time teaching.
#2 – (New teachers) Find a mentor and don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s much more efficient to learn from others than trying to reinvent the wheel.

#3 – Don’t be afraid to say “No” but keep an approachable demeanor. Many times students try to learn / push a teachers limits. We need to be committed to our response and consistent so students know what to expect.

#4 – Build relations with everyone; students, administrators, parents, colleagues, custodians. There will be a time when those connections will pay great dividends.
What’s your advice to new and returning educators? Please email me yours and I will collect them for a future blog post. How will you include and support new teachers in your school/district? Please introduce them to the Maine Arts Education blog – its easy to subscribe (on the right side, half way down). And, invite them to join the community by joining the arts education list-serv by sending me their email address.
Before we get to the “wise words” from Maine, Nancy Flanagan taught K-12 music for 30 years in Michigan. She blogs for Education Week, the TEACHER section called TEACHER in a Strange Land (you may want to follow her on twitter) and on 6 August 2018 she wrote a post called Ten Non-Standard ideas About Going Back to SchoolIt’s worth the read (after you read what Maine arts educators have to say)!
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Visit to Wyoming

May 22, 2019

Amazing opportunity

Mary and I at the Wyoming Arts Council

I am so grateful to have traveled to Wyoming last week. I went for two main purposes – one to sit on the arts education grant panel for the Wyoming Arts Council and the second to attend the connect2women conference, especially to attend a session provided by Mary Billiter. Mary is the Arts Education Specialist at the Wyoming Arts Council. I love the Council’s slogan: Grow – Connect – Thrive.

During my almost six years as the director of arts education at the Maine Arts Commission I have been fortunate to mentor two other state arts agency arts education directors. Both have provided me with opportunities to reflect on the work that I view as so important to quality arts education in our schools and communities throughout the state and country. And, is often the case, I have learned so much and have been grateful for the chance to interact with two amazing women! Now, they are not only colleagues but friends.

Denver airport looks like a giant sculpture

It was fascinating to see ‘close up’ how another state coordinates their arts education grant panel. I have read about how other states run their panels and talked with other directors about the process but experiencing the process was much different. It gave me the chance to pause, reflect, and learn.

The panel of 8 traveled from all over Wyoming and we reviewed 53 grant applications, which is almost three times as many as are submitted in Maine. The applications received cover a wide range; PreK-through higher education institutions, arts councils, non-profit, for profit, community organizations and much more. Some of the challenges and successes the applicants face day to day are similar to what I find in Maine and some were very different. It Applicants were required to demonstrate alignment with the state’s arts standards, among other requirements. Needless to say I loved taking on the challenge and since I knew very little or nothing about the applicants and communities, in some ways the task was easier.

First Lady Jennie Gordon

Attending the connect2women conference was a real gift. Kate Debow Hayes serves as the executive director and is the energy behind the work that the organization has underway. It is their fourth conference and the first as a non-profit. Each year the conference grows as people learn about the opportunity.

The speakers, presenters and workshops were varied and interesting. Mary’s workshop was called “Writing Your Online Presence” and it was useful on many levels. From writing emails to formal and informal letters to requesting face to face meetings and much more – I was reminded of how important communication is on a variety of levels. The room was packed with about 50 people. Mary Billiter is the award-winning author of the highly acclaimed resort romance series, which she wrote on her cell phone while she underwent breast cancer treatment. She has a new book coming out in July. I will include a blog post tomorrow that I hope you’ll read since it covers a topic that is familiar to all of us and an important one to address as educators.

Giant boot mosaic

I attended a second workshop called “Brand Your Story” that was presented by Elizabeth Dillow who is an accomplished photographer and designer. The seeds she planted provided the chance to work on “advocacy” through a different lens. It is so fun to be presented with challenges when traveling.

One highlight of the conference was the keynote provided by Wyoming’s First Lady Jennie Gordon. She shared her story growing up with a mother who was born in Austria and coming to the states after marrying an American service man from WWII. She has 9 siblings and now grown children of her own. Her story was very inspirational.

One of the many beautiful flowers at the botanical garden

During my down-time in Wyoming I had a chance to visit some local spots. The Cheyenne Botanical Gardens was one and they are amazing. Many of you know that I create mosaics so seeing the giant boot in mosaic form was a real treat. The gardens also include 3 floors of beautiful plants, an extensive children’s garden, a rooftop garden spot, and much more. I loved seeing the tulips, the vegetables and flowers waiting to be planted from the greenhouse, the indoor/ outdoor classroom and the rooftop providing a wonderful view. While there I met an interesting 80 year old man who was retired from a career in education – teacher, principal, and superintendent – he was spending his day fishing.

The best part about being out west is how everything feels so HUGE. I landed at the Denver airport with a tent like design, the Rockies in the distance, the intense blue sky, the clouds that go from white puffy to grey rain clouds in a matter of minutes, the boots and hats, and the people who are curious and friendly! I am grateful to experience and learn so much while traveling and LOVE returning home to Maine!

Indoor/outdoor classroom in the children’s area of the botanical gardens

I’m sure many of the meartsed blog readers have been out west. If not, I recommend a trip – rent a car, drive around, stop in the local  shops, and stare at the immense sky and land. Ask the local people a question or two and let them talk about their lives.

 

 

 

 

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Storytelling and Innovation

May 19, 2019

Southern Maine Partnership

The annual conference sponsored by USM and the the Southern Maine Partnership, Assessment for Learning & Leading was outstanding. These year’s theme was Brain-Based Strategies to Cultivate Positive Learning Environments. Conference planners Jeff Beaudry and Anita Stewart  McCafferty did an amazing job planning two days of

Jen Etter

keynotes and sessions that left participants excited and filled with information to use in their classrooms and school districts.  The featured keynote speaker was Dr. Marcia Tate whose work parallels much of the teaching and learning that takes place every day in visual and performing arts education.

Arts education played an important part of the conference as it has each of the past three years. Presenting at the conference were Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI)

Shawna Barnes

Teacher Leader York Middle School Music Educator Jen Etter and MALI Teaching Artist Leader Shawna Barnes. Their session was titled Brain-Based Strategies – Gateways to Creativity, Growth and Recovery. Jen provided information on strategies used in the music classroom that align with the brain research. Shawna offered information the role of the arts has in responding to disabilities and injuries. Each of them used examples from their work as teachers in the different settings.

I had a chance to with Lindsay Pinchbeck and offer a workshop called Storytelling and Innovation – an exploration in arts integration. If you click on the image on the right it will be larger and you can read our agenda. 

The participants were thoughtful and willing to share – opening their thinking and ideas. During part of the session participants had a chance to try Express-a-Book which is an idea created by Falmouth High School music educator Jake Sturtevant, Lindsay Pinchbeck and myself. It’s our answer to traditional book clubs. An opportunity to dive into a resource like a book, TED Talk or a pod cast and instead of only ‘talking’ about it, participants create a response using an art form and share the art with the group. We created it as part of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) and have tried it with people around the world through our work with HundrEDExpress-a-Book is part of Jeff and Anita’s recently published book Teaching Strategies That Create Assessment-Literate Learners.

Participants used the Hundred site or a segment of The Innovators Mindset by George Couros, Mindset by Carol Dweck or If I Understood You Would I Have This Look on My Face? by Alan Alda. Afterwards they shared their take-aways from these resources so they could help build on everyone’s knowledge. I highly recommend all four resources for independent or collaborative reading with colleagues.

The most fun part of the session was at the beginning when participants used “story starters” and created a dragon together – a technique that we learned from MALI Teaching Artist Leader Nicole Cardano who is the founder of Theater Today.

We provided numerous research reports, articles and links to a variety of resources that participants could follow up with if they wish to learn more on arts integration, innovation, mindset, storytelling and many more topics that are centered on good teaching and learning.

We completed the session by participants providing a “one word poem” – growth, environment, open-minded, transformative, opportunities, engaged, non-linear, and global.

Lindsay and Argy

For those of you who don’t know Lindsay, her bio is below. If you’re interested in purchasing Jeff and Anita’s book please contact them at jeffrey.beaudry@maine.edu and anita.stewart@maine.edu

Lindsay’s Bio – Originally from Scotland Lindsay Pinchbeck came to Maine for her undergraduate degree. Lindsay has been teaching with and through the arts in a variety of settings for the past 20 years. Lindsay is the director and founder of Sweet Tree Arts and Sweetland School, a community organization in Hope, ME offering a K-6 arts Integrated, Reggio Emilia inspired school. Pinchbeck received her Masters in Education through Lesley University’s Creative Arts and Learning program. Lindsay believes the creative arts should be accessible to all. She encourages everyone to be active participants and keen observers with the hope of enriching communities through the arts. Learn more at sweettreearts.org.

 

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Teach to Lead

May 15, 2019

Powered By Summit

Are you and your colleagues looking for a leadership opportunity to build curriculum and collaborate with a team? Have you been wishing for an extended time to develop an idea that you can implement at your school/district? Do you have one day during the summer to devote to professional development? If you answered yes to these three questions consider submitting a proposal for the Powered By Teach to Lead Summit.

The Summit will be held on August 16 at University of Maine Farmington. Last year the event was held at Husson and the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) took a team. MALI took a team several years ago Teach to Lead held a Summit in Washington, D.C. It was the turning point for the initiative in multiple ways and an amazing learning opportunity.

Space is limited so gather your colleagues together and see what they think. The link for submitting your idea is at THIS LINK.

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Sustainability Festival

May 11, 2019

Sweet Tree Arts

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Gone to Malawi

May 2, 2019

Water is Life

Thank you to Krisanne Baker, Ecological Artist and Educator, teaches Visual Arts at Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro,  who provided this blog post. It was previously published in the Union of Maine Visual Artists Journal and again in the Courier-Gazette newspaper. You can see Krisanne’s artwork at HER WEBSITEKrisanne has continued the work that was started in July 2016, Arts Integration workshops for teachers in Malawi, Africa. If you’re interested in learning more please contact me at argy.nestor@maine.gov.

At this time last year, Medomak Valley High School art teacher Krisanne Baker took her mantra, “Water is Life,” to Malawi, Africa, where she educated teachers at the top of a rainforest about their water systems, and then made art about preservation and conservation.

I found myself waking up, in what I thought was a National Geographic magazine spread, at the top of a rainforest mountain in Malawi, Africa. Passion can take you on some funny paths. Ten years ago I could easily have imagined a safari in Africa, but not for the reason that got me there in April 2018 with my teaching colleague, Melissa Barbour, who had invited me to collaborate with her. My reason for embarking was water, the rains of Africa, and the passion to make and empower change.

My day job for the past 25 years has been as a crazy high school art teacher. I get a kick out of working with hormonal teenagers getting ready to jump into life. When people find out that I teach at the local high school, they say, “Oh, thank you!” They can’t imagine why I’d be crazy enough to want to spend all day with their kids, but they are grateful.

Teaching also funds my main job – I mean the one in my head and my heart – being a painter; and all the expensive art supplies that go along with it. Once my son was old enough, I finally had the opportunity to work on a Master of Fine Arts. I didn’t do it to become a better teacher, although it did make me that, but to get deeper into my own work. You see, I’d always felt like there was something missing.

One of the hardest and yet simplest things to put together as a research thesis in grad school was what I was passionate about. I knew it was water. But where to go from there? Twelve years ago, there were no front page headlines about climate change; Flint, Michigan; Nestlé Corporation or drought. Why water? I’d spent years making paintings of its many moods and atmospheres. But the reveries just weren’t enough. What it came down to is that I CARE about water. And when you look at the myriad ways in which it touches our lives and makes our lives possible, I thought, well, EVERYBODY should care about water!

My research led me down a road I never thought possible – one that scared the pants off of me – ACTIVISM. “Oh, no, I can’t do that! I don’t know the first thing about it… what would I say? What could I possibly do? Does that mean I have to give a performance or something? Wait, no, I can’t do that, I’M AN INTROVERT!”

All I can say is, introvert or extrovert, if you are passionate about something, you find a way to share it with people. The hardest thing I found was to stay positive and not blame or make people feel bad about all the difficult water situations. I found the most meaningful way to bring about a change is to educate people. With knowledge comes the care and the desire to do positive helpful things. Actions start small and grow bigger, bolder and louder.

First I did my work in true introvert style. I made short videos, using myself as a model, superimposed upon various water situations that need our attention. That way I could perform, but didn’t have to come eye to eye with an audience. But after my short films, I began having to do question and answer talks, or tell stories… or give a gallery talk about series of paintings I made to raise awareness of water quality, chemical infiltration and women’s body burdens.

Five years ago, I began incorporating my water awareness work into my classroom teaching. I developed the “Gulf of Maine: Endangered Ocean Creatures” curriculum and “Gulf of Maine: Dare to Care.” Students wholeheartedly engaged. When I was presented with the idea of interdisciplinary teaching in Africa to teachers in a remote area, the first thing I looked up was their connection to water. My first thoughts were the Darfur droughts and water wars between Israel and Palestine. The area where I was to go was water rich in comparison. Malawi, if you don’t know where it is – I didn’t – is just inland from the Eastern shores of Africa, and is home to one of the largest bodies of fresh water on the continent, Lake Malawi. It’s just above Mozambique.

My mission was to incorporate art and the local rainforest ecology in a teachable curriculum for the Ntchisi district teachers, in the hopes that they would implement local ecological stewardship through art and action. When we think of rainforests, we usually think “rich in resources,” which they are. Rainforests currently face major deforestation problems, not only due to removal of rare and beautiful woods, but also through exponentially increasing populations – a global problem. I hired a forest ranger to guide 12 teachers and me through the Ntchisi rainforest. We learned about the water system, in concert with the plants and animals, and how everything is connected through water. Back in a classroom, I drew global water systems on a chalkboard. I talked about how much the ocean covers the planet, and how we need to care for all waters, as they continually circulate from oceans to clouds to mountains to rainforests, and beyond. There were looks of amazement, and lightbulbs glowing in the minds of these remote educators. I was amazed that this was new knowledge to them, but in a landlocked very remote area, what else should I expect? I was grateful that they were receptive and completely engaged and passionate.

We discussed the water sources that humans use, the mountain rainforest, and how people cutting down trees for cooking fuel would eventually collapse the water system. Malawi is the world’s second poorest country. This mountaintop population of about 40 small villages has no running water and no electricity, no fuel other than wood. When I say poor, I mean to write on a piece of paper, a teacher would first divide it into four quarters before handing it out, if they had any. Children walking with me on the road between the school and the Go! Malawi compound would ask for a sweet. If I didn’t have any, they would ask me for a pencil. They are hungry to learn. Books are a rarity. A current fundraising project begun by an 8th grade student in Maine through the Go! Malawi non-profit will build the first mountain library in the Ntchisi region, hopefully in 2020. (Visit go-malawi.org/donate-online/ if interested in making a donation.)

I led the teachers to incorporate their drawings (images from our rainforest walks, talks and microscope viewings) into plans for three large, painted murals. Each mural showed the place, the cycles of water, plants, trees, animals, people, fish, phytoplankton and zooplankton. I brought a digital microscope, which we plugged into a solar inverter at the Go! Malawi compound. Each told a visual story of how we are all connected through water and how we must care for this place to protect the water. Each mural had the simple words: Water is Life / Madzi ndi Moyo.

At the end of two weeks, my teachers had become new water art activists. They had a plan to circulate the murals amongst several schools, with thought-provoking questions to spark discussions with their students. We have future plans through Go! Malawi to underwrite tree planting workshops and do-it-yourself solar cookers. Until my workshop, many of the teachers had not ever been in the rainforest at the top of the mountain. They thanked me for opening up that part of their world to them, along with the concept and practices of stewardship. I thanked them by asking them to engage their students, and left a suitcase of art supplies for them to make more murals in their classrooms as constant reminders of the importance of water to our lives. Someday I hope to meet up with one of those rainforest village children who has become a water activist.

Krisanne Baker is a Waldoboro artist, an art and ecology educator at Medomak Valley High School, a former professor at the University of Maine Farmington and an avid ocean advocate. Her work concerns water quality, availability and rights, both locally and globally. Baker’s multimedia installations and paintings are studies of the patterns of the natural world, arrangements of colors and ocean life in macroscopic and microscopic views of the “heart of the planet.”

Baker exhibits nationally, gives talks internationally and collaborates with others. She was recently a Visiting Artist in Residence at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in its world-renowned living marine algae lab. This collaboration will result this summer in a large-scale installation of phytoplankton created as phosphorescent glowing glass sculptures.

Baker’s paintings can be seen locally at Caldbeck Gallery, 12 Elm St., Rockland and online at KrisanneBaker.com.

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