Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

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Summer Reading

June 18, 2019

Recommended books 

Ahhh, summertime and a better chance of reading. I’m sure some of you have selected your summer reading material and others are considering what to read. Whatever you decide on I do hope that not only do you find the books inspirational and filled with new learning but, that you find a place to read that is comfortable and allows you to squeeze every morsel of enjoyment out of each read. My suggestions include a variety.

If you’re looking for something on teaching and learning Jeff Beaudry and Anita Stewart McCafferty, professors at USM, have a new book called Teaching Strategies That Create Assessment-Literate Learners. The Foreword is provided by Rick Stiggins, from Corwin Press, published in 2018. It is based on their expertise and experiences in Maine schools and what they’ve observed. It includes many examples straight from the classroom, provided by Maine educators.

The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros, Dave Burgess Consulting, 2015, is another practical book. George was a teacher, principal and now an educational consultant. He believes in the power of teacher leadership and empowering and supporting teachers so they can be better at teaching. He is ‘spot on’ about the importance of innovation in education.

The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz, Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale, 2009, is an inspiring story about how Jacqueline left a career in international banking to spend her life on a quest to understand global poverty and find powerful new ways of tackling it. She wanted to make a difference in the world and through education, empowerment and forming relationships her journey led her across the globe and back again several times. The book starts with her how Jacqueline had donated a beloved blue sweater to Goodwill. Eleven years later she saw a young child wearing her sweater in Rwanda. It became clear to her that we are all connected – in our actions and inactions. It is a wonderful story that I just couldn’t put down.

dare to lead by Brené Brown, Penguin Random House, 2018. Brené’s approach to living is refreshingly honest. She looks at her years of research on leadership and interacting with leaders and organizes it in this book. She emphasizes how important it is to be vulnerable and brave over comfort and the easy pathway. If you’re a leader who is looking for assistance in moving forward or in challenging your mindset, this book could be helpful.

Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World by Scott Harrison, Crown Publishing Group, 2018. Yes, this story is about Harrison’s focus on bringing clean water to people who don’t have access to it but it is so much more than that. It is about pulling yourself up by your boot straps, unconditional love, believing in people and yourself, never giving up, looking in the mirror and reaching out to others, and making the world a better place. It is a very inspirational book and I couldn’t put this one dow. It would be a great read for the beach (or pool, or deck, or almost any place comfy).

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? by Alan Alda, published by Random House, 2017. This is a book about communication BUT the best part is it’s about how Alda’s goal is better communication through his  experiences with acting, improv, science, and storytelling. The skills he offers are from his years hosting Scientific American Frontiers. Definitely many plugs for the value of the Arts.

I hope you’ll share what you’re reading this summer so others can be inspired!

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AFTA Resources

June 14, 2019

Americans for the Arts

AFTA has tons of resources on their website. Like many outstanding sites there are too many resources to locate. Over the next few weeks I will provide resources on the blog that you can include in your summer independent learning or perhaps use when coming together with colleagues for collaborative learning. I encourage you to share them with others. And don’t hesitate to email me at meartsed@gmail.com with resources that you find useful so I can share them with others on the Maine Arts Education blog.

AFTA has a collection of videos called “Encourage Creativity: Teach the Arts”. Who to use each video ‘with’ and ‘what for’ is included with each description to help you determine if they will work for you. They provide the length of each video and they are each downloadable. The four videos range from 42 minutes to a documentary that is 7 hours and 19 minutes long. They are filled with stories, facts and figures to use for advocacy, and voices of learners of all ages.

They are creative documents that are very well put together. Please check them out at THIS LINK

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Music Scholarship

June 8, 2019

Westbrook High School – Don and Barbara Doane Music Scholarship

Trombonist Don Doane practices at the Maine Veterans’ Home in Scarborough in 2014. In addition to being a professional musician, Doane taught music to hundreds of students across Maine. File photo Portland Press Herald

This is a wonderful way to honor someone who has made an impact on the world of music education. After both of them are going their memory lives on with this scholarship.

Don Doane (1934-2015) was, in the words of one of his former students, the “best musician Maine has ever seen.” This designated fund honoring Don and his wife Barbara (1931-2015) supports a graduating senior from Westbrook High School seeking post-secondary study, with preference given to students pursuing music as a major or minor field of study.

 

 

 

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State Teachers of the Year

May 28, 2019

57 Teaches Recognized

National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson

On April 29th, the White House and the U.S. Department of Education welcomed the State Teachers of the Year at the annual National Teacher of the Year Ceremony. National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson is a social studies and history teacher at a juvenile detention center in Richmond, Virginia. Robinson was inspired to teach by his mother, who went to a segregated school and couldn’t afford to complete her education. This event, sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), celebrates 57 teachers from the continental United States as well as its territories.

The CCSSO said of Robinson in a statement:

“He creates a positive school culture by empowering his students — many of whom have experienced trauma — to become civically minded social advocates who use their skills and voices to affect physical and policy changes at their school and in their communities.”

The 2019 Maine Teacher of the Year was among those educators being honored as well. Joseph Hennessey who teaches English at Piscataquis Community High School in Guilford represents Maine this year and kindly provided the following description of his experience in D.C. In addition Joe provided the photographs that are embedded.

“From April 28th through May 3rd, I was fortunate to attend the Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSSO) Washington Week. During the five day program, I, along with the other 56 members of the Teacher of the Year cohort, was able to meet with Congressional representatives on Capitol Hill, participate in educational policy focus groups and professional development, attend formal receptions at the White House and Vice President’s Residence, and tour a number of the landmarks scattered throughout the city. It was a week of firsts for me as I had never been to our nation’s capital before. My initial impression, sure to be one of many as I continue to ponder, is a reflection upon the enormous ideological and political scale assigned by time and circumstance to a medium sized, coastal American city.
The governmental institutions and their physical structures were awe-inspiring, and the reality is that many of our fellow citizens and neighbors will not have an opportunity to visit them, let alone be formally received. Thus, I felt it my duty to appreciate the enormity of it all. The pillars, pedestals, pediments, and windows are intended to overwhelm the senses– as if the ideas which the buildings house transcend the individual’s intellectual repertoire, skill set, or influence. What is more, those who designed these buildings– in effect, temples to democracy, to capitalism, to individualism– did so with an eye supposedly averse to the imperial aesthetic. And yet, from the giant obelisk at the center of the political complex, to the colossi which populate the monuments, it is clear that there is great homage being paid to Greece, Rome, and monarchical/imperial Europe. I found these buildings and places to be interesting counterpoints as we educators were in town to contemplate the various pathways which we had already walked in the interest of identity, equity, and pluralism staunchly opposed to such trappings of the “Old World.” As I share my experiences with colleagues and students, I am eager to see how my perspective will evolve on this front.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Also during our week in the center of America’s political sphere, I was by turns inspired and humbled to visit the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) and the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). In addition to viewing keystones of their art and cultural collections, I was fortunate enough to attend lectures by several prominent figures from throughout the Smithsonian Institution who gave me context for what I was able to glean. These structures and their collections were massive like the United States Supreme Court and United States Capitol Building, but their scale represented an even more crucial component of the complicated historical discourse which America continues to have with its various cultures. These

United States Supreme Court

museums are intellectual achievements which seek to further educate our population about our tremendous, invaluable diversity; as a person of comparative privilege, it was important for me to listen attentively to what was being said and to internalize what I was being shown. It also, subsequently, reaffirmed the role of the educator to me– which is to bring the interconnected world into the frame of reference of all young people, not to the exclusion,  subversion, or exception of academic skills. Education is indeed the path to self betterment and community betterment– when I use the materials and resources which the Smithsonian provides at no charge to all Americans, it will be with a new gravity which I was unfamiliar with before despite having used the resources in years past.

United States Capitol Building

In sum, my time in Washington was spent celebrating education, reflecting upon our roles as individual people and as part of interconnected cultures, and reaffirming the greater socioeconomic imperative of public education– to provide the essential public service. Each of the structures and institutions which I encountered was staffed by Americans from far and wide, including Maine, who were both adamant in their beliefs and fallible as we all are. So, while we must appreciate the scale and grandeur of what America has accomplished thus far in art, architecture, and philosophy, and politics, we must also be vigilant as public servants and individual citizens to continue to support our institutions, structures, and neighbors at the individual, interpersonal level.

What a wonderful, important week that it was…”
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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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In Today’s News

May 21, 2019

Hike Through History with Kate and Kris

I love it when I hear about teachers who are collaborating to provide learning that involves multiple grade levels. Most schools are divided by grade or age level yet in life – family, church, community groups – people are almost always together with all ages.

When Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leaders Kate Smith and Kris Bisson were planning curriculum together for the annual Hike Through History for their students, I wasn’t surprised when they told me about their ideas to connect their students through dance. Kris teaches at Marshwood Middle School and Kate teaches at Central School – both are part of MSAD35, South Berwick.

Today’s news article, which includes video footage, is from seacoastonline.com and documents a unit that has been going on for a very long time in the district. In fact, this year Hike Through History turns 25!

From the article

Music and choral teacher Kris Bisson said, “Kate Smith and I designed a curriculum about music and its link to colonial times. So our focus is about dances then and now; it wasn’t just a source of physical enjoyment, but also a chance to be with your neighbors and your town community.”

On the lawn of Central School, eighth-graders worked recently with second-grade students showing them folk dances people did in the early 1800s as music sifted through the air. The dances they have chosen are authentic, matching how people actually danced in Colonial days in South Berwick and surrounding towns. One person called out the dance on a microphone. “Heel and toe, heal and toe, slide, swing your partner!” The eighth-grade students decided to plan this year’s hike around a wedding ceremony so they could show children the old-time dances as well as a few modern dances to demonstrate similarities from the past to the present. The Heal and Toe Polka, Chimes of Dunkirk, the Twist or the Macarena all have commonalities.

You can read the entire article AND see video footage of a rehearsal. It is so fun to watch!

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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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