Archive for the ‘VPA’ Category

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Young Artist’s in Quarantine

June 30, 2020

Student’s share their stories

This is part of a series highlighting the stories of young artists in quarantine. The period of free time that many people are experiencing has led to a sense of freedom in creating– when not held back by the standards expected by society and in much of art education (or needing to prove talent/fill resumes) it’s incredible what can be done. Alone in your room with just a paintbrush or guitar has led many students to find a new independence in art when they have the ability to create just for themselves. We’re hoping that by telling these stories, a change will occur in the way we approach arts education, to focus on the growth of the individual, even after quarantine comes to an end. Thank you Robyn Walker-Spencer, 2020 graduate, Camden Hills Regional High School, for launching this series of young artists in quarantine.

Kate Kemper just graduated from Camden Hills Regional High School. Below is her pandemic story.

I have always been an artist, I think. I have a grandparent on each side of my family who were extremely gifted in the arts, and my parents always say the “artist gene” skipped a generation. Over my life, I’ve expanded my mediums. I work in many forms of fine art; I am a painter, singer, poet, ceramist, and beginning mural artist.

What really sparked my love of art and helped me develop good foundations was my education at Ashwood Waldorf School. As a part of the core curriculum, I painted wet-on-wet in painting class and made a crayon drawing for every academic lesson over eight years.

In my senior year of high school, I took an advanced art portfolio class which pushed my artistic abilities even further. I learned about putting meaning into art and the different ways to make a statement about the world through the lens of creation. I now feel empowered to express my voice through a piece and do art much more frequently.

Separate, 2020, 14” x 17,” Mixed Media

There are a few common ways to make a statement about the world. Protesting, voting, speaking out, and art. You cannot have a successful social movement without art to move people. It can unite by interpreting a message into a visual format that makes it easier to understand. The repetition of an idea through many artworks grows a movement and can make real change in the mind of the audience.

But ultimately, art is what you want it to be. For me, among many others, it is a reaction.

I paint absent-minded abstractions when I need to relax, I express my frustrations when I’m angry, and I admire beauty when I’m joyful. I use it as a tool, a way to process emotion. This has come in especially handy during recent months. Amidst a global pandemic, one can expect many emotions. I went through a whirlwind of life events simultaneously, good and bad, so it is no surprise that I made a lot of art. The most defining piece of this era was one called “separate.” It was a paper cut representation of the idea of social distancing. It will join the large body of work that I am sure will arise worldwide in reaction to this pandemic.

Fruit Salad part 1, 2020, 24”x 24,” acrylic on canvas

Two Shrooms, 2020, 8” x 5,” ink pen on paper

Flank Study, 2019, India ink on paper

Blind, 2019, 6”x 12,” pen and paper

Sea Tea, 2019, 6” x 6” x 4,” ceramic and ceramic glaze

Skull and Books, 2019, 18” x 24,” conté on paper

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Congratulations Dennie Palmer Wolf

June 29, 2020

YAHOOOO for Dennie!

Association of Teaching Artists congratulates Nam-Ni Chen, Kwame Scruggs, and Dennie Palmer Wolf on their recognitions!

Dennie was the consultant during the first Maine arts education census. Out of that work came a comprehensive look at arts education in Maine and the Imagination Intensive Communities project. Seven school districts including their greater communities were highlighted with the amazing arts educational opportunities they provide for learners of all ages. It was a pleasure to work with Dennie and her knowledge and experience were immeasurable. I’m thrilled to learn that a true friend of Maine is being recognized at the national level.

The Distinguished Service to the Field Award will be given to Nai-Ni Chen, the Innovation in Teaching Artistry Award will be given to Kwame Scruggs, and the Teaching Artist Ally Award will be given to Dennie Palmer Wolf. Read the full press release here.

  • The Distinguished Service to the Field Award, given to a long-tenured artist educator is awarded to Nai-Ni Chen whose 20-plus years of dance teaching artistry in the Tri-State area has impacted  more than 100 schools with both in-school residencies and assembly performances, in particular their partnership with the A. Harry Moore Laboratory School for students with disabilities.
  • The Innovation in Teaching Artistry Award given to a Teaching Artist demonstrating innovation and excellence in the field, is awarded to Kwame Scruggs founder and director of Alchemy in Akron, OH where he has developed a program to engage adolescent males through the telling, discussion, and interpretation of mythological stories and fairy tales told to the beat of an African drum.
  • The Teaching Artist Ally Award given to a professional or organization integral to the work of teaching artists, but not a teaching artist themselves is awarded to Dennie Palmer Wolf of WolfBrown whose research has been cited by arts education organizations nationally. Wolf’s recent article “Teaching Artists as Essential Workers: Respect, Collaboration and Heft” named teaching artists as the most vulnerable population in the arts education field and called for economic support during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Awards of Recognition given to teaching artists or organizations in acknowledgment of their contributions to the field of teaching artistry is given to Tim Lord and Jason Duchan at DreamYard in the Bronx, NY, Nicole Bond of the SMART Museum in Chicago, IL, Margie Reese of Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture in Wichita, TX, and Mandi Jackson from Music Haven in New Haven, CT.

The Awards Ceremony will be streamed on Thursday, July 23rd 7:00PM – 8:00PM EDT at as part of Lincoln Center “Activate” professional development series for Teaching Artists.

Established in 2002, the ATA Awards were the first in the nation to recognize artist educators. The ATA Awards seek to raise the visibility of Teaching Artists within the arts in education and community arts fields and in the organizations and institutions for which they work as well as honor innovation in teaching artistry.

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ABC Student Leadership

June 26, 2020

Representatives from across the state

The 12 arts students from high schools around the state who make up the first Student Leadership Group of the Arts are Basic Coalition (ABC) gathered in Augusta in the fall. The students were all selected for their commitment to the arts by the four Maine professional associations that make up the ABC: the Maine Art Education Association (MAEA), the Maine Music Educators Association (MMEA), the Maine Educational Theatre Association (MEdTA) and the Maine Dance Educators. Below are photos and short bios of all the students.

Madi Baker (Visual Art) is a senior at Hampden Academy, studying AP art and design. She is also doing an independent study in art education, and is a member of Hampden Academy’s Voices Unlimited choral group. Madi feels a strong commitment to arts education and a mission to promote creativity in all forms.

 

Maille Baker (Theatre) is a senior at Nokomis Regional High. Over her years at Nokomis she has been involved in a number of groups including drama club, jazz band, combo, and ensemble, jazz chorus, and show chorus. She is also an award-winning dancer and back country skier. Maille is Vice President of her school’s chapter of National Honor Society, and is an active member of Key Club and FBLA. She was student of the year her freshman year, and received the Dartmouth Book Award this past school year.

Colette Carrillo (Music) is a sophomore from Waterville High School. She is an active member of the school’s choral program and has participated in the Kennebec Valley Music Festival Chorus for three years. She participates in the Waterville High School’s annual musical productions. Colette also composes her own music.

 

Michaela Carrow (Theatre) is a sophomore from Hermon High School. She is a member of Thespian Troupe 8263 and participates both on the stage and behind the scenes in plays, one-acts, and show choir. She has also sung in the District V Festival chorus and is very active in her school’s Art Club. She is currently working towards her Honors Diploma.

 

Alexis Grant (Dance) is a senior at Maine Arts Academy in Sidney. As a member of MEAA’s Spotlight Dance Team as well as TNT Dance Studio’s Competitive Edge Team, her days are filled with learning choreography and working in dance technique classes. She has also performed, volunteered, and created choreography for Lakewood Theater’s Teen Tech and Tour group, with her favorite role being Jan in the production of Grease. Alexis has recently attended the Dean College Summer Arts Institute and the AMDA High School Summer Conservatory as a dance major.

Delia Harms (Music) is a sophomore from Massabesic HS in Waterboro. Her main musical interest is playing the bassoon in her school band as well as in the Portland Youth Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra. Delia has also performed in the Maine Music Educators District One Honors Festival and All-State Band and in her high school chorus.

 

Ethan Hayes (Visual Art) is a freshman Visual Art student at Wisdom Middle / High School in Aroostook County. He is a member of S.L.A.M.! (Student Leadership in the Arts!), Wisdom’s Arts Advocacy and Student Leadership group. Ethan is inspired by science fiction, fantasy and animals like reptiles and sea creatures. He likes to create conceptual drawings for video games and animation projects.

Alison Jones (Theatre) is a junior from Bonny Eagle High School in Standish, currently entering her third year of High School Theatre. She is on the BEHS Theatre student leadership board as the membership chair. An active member of Bonny Eagle’s Thespian Troupe 211 for two years, Alison is performing in and assistant-directing the fall production. She has also received an award for her performance in Humbletown at the state level of the Maine Drama Festival. Last year Alison achieved 3-star Thespian status, as well as recognition as a Vice President’s List Scholar. Her other interests include writing, for which she has received two Scholastic Keys, and was a participant of the Maine Playwright’s Festival workshop last spring.

Tyler Lucca (Music) is a sophomore from Yarmouth High School, where he plays trombone in the honors level Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band and sings in the honors level Chamber Choir. Tyler is currently playing Uncle Fester in the Addams Family fall musical. He also plays banjo in a youth bluegrass ensemble called Flight 317. This well-known and respected band based out of 317 Main Community Music Center in Yarmouth has a rotating cast of high-schoolers and performs frequently in many venues ranging from seasonal festivals to restaurants.

Sophie Patenaude (Music) is a junior from Poland Regional High School in Poland. She is a classical pianist who also plays tenor saxophone in her school’s concert band. Sophie sings with her school’s chorus, chamber choir, a cappella choir and jazz band and her own acoustic duo, Meraki, as well as being a backup singer for The Masterstroke Queen Experience. She has attended several Maine Music Educators Association District II and All State Honors Choral festivals and will be attending her first NAfME All National Honors Choral festival in November. Sophie also performs frequently in musical theater and theater productions as a musician, actor, and dancer.

McKenna Shoberg (Dance) is a junior from Lake Region High School. She is a member of the National Honor Society and has been dancing for 14 years. She took master classes with Carlos Garland from So You Think You Can Dance and has starred in The Wizard of Oz for Lake Region Community Theater. She also attended drama classes at Venice Little Theater in Venice, Florida. McKenna has choreographed dances and received an award for leadership in dance. Last year she won a laker pride award which recognizes being a positive role model, consistently helpful, and selfless.

Gabriella Thompson (Dance) is a senior at Thornton Academy in Saco. She has taken dance curricularly for the past four years in Thornton’s dance program. Gabriella is a co-leader of the Thornton Academy Dance Company. She has participated in TA’s musicals and is a member of the Interact Club and National Honors Society. After graduating, Gabriella plans on going to a University to study business and communications. She wants to continue dancing throughout college because of her passion and love for it!

The Arts are Basic Coalition (ABC), led by the MAAE, is an advocacy partnership made up of representatives of Maine’s professional teachers’ associations in art, music, theater and dance (see individual members and contact information below). ABC’s mission is “to advocate with a common strong voice for the visual and performing arts for all students in Maine.” ABC was created when the Maine Arts Commission and the Maine Alliance for Arts Education in the summer of 2000 convened a large group of Maine arts education organizations and supporters to investigate ways in which we could collaborate for the cause of “arts every day for every child.” Out of that meeting grew ABC.

Until recently ABC limited its advocacy to state legislation, successfully advocating to keep the arts in the Maine Learning Results, restore the Visual and Performing Arts staff position at the Department of Education, and ensure a one-credit arts requirement for high school graduation. Last spring ABC expanded the scope of its work to include advocating to stakeholders in schools and communities around the state. Each of the partnering organizations also designated a special advocacy delegate to represent that organization in ABC’s expanded work. (See the names and contact info below.) ABC showed off its new logo at Arts and Culture Day at the capitol in April and will be playing a larger role in organizing MAAE’s semi-annual Arts Education Advocacy Day at the Statehouse. A critical part of ABC’s expansion has been its creation of a new ABC Student Leadership Group. For all the news and information about the group see News on the left.

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Fellowship

June 22, 2020

Maine connecting  with India

Sweet Tree Arts is thrilled to announce their Fellowship Program in partnership with SLAM Out Loud. Sweet Tree Arts and the Sweetland School are located in Hope, Maine. SLAM Out Loud is an organization in India. The Fellowship is open to artists and educators and begins in August 2020. The Fellowship offers experiences in arts based, learner centered approaches with trailblazing educators and learners in Maine and India. Learn the details by clicking on the flyer (below) to make it larger. The application available at THIS LINK.

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Letter from ABC

June 21, 2020

5 organizations send letter

ABC’s Mission and History

The Arts are Basic Coalition (ABC), led by the MAAE, is an advocacy partnership made up of representatives of Maine’s professional teachers’ associations in art, music, theater and dance (see individual members and contact information below). ABC’s mission is “to advocate with a common strong voice for the visual and performing arts for all students in Maine.” ABC was created when the Maine Arts Commission and the Maine Alliance for Arts Education in the summer of 2000 convened a large group of Maine arts education organizations and supporters to investigate ways in which we could collaborate for the cause of “arts every day for every child.” Out of that meeting grew ABC.

To: ​Maine School Superintendents, Principals, and School Board Chairs
From:​The Arts are Basic Coalition (ABC): Maine Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE), Maine Art Education Association (MAEA), Maine Music Educators Association (MMEA), Maine Educational Theatre Association (MEdTA) and Maine Dance Educators.

As the leaders of the five Maine organizations that collectively represent the Visual and Performing Arts in Maine schools, we are writing to let you know that in this time of anticipated changes in schools and heightened concern about school funding reductions we are putting our creative and collaborative skills to work to respond to the artistic and social needs of our students and using our advocacy experience to help preserve state funding levels in Maine schools.

Advocacy has long been a strong suit of Maine arts education leadership. For more than 20 years our five statewide professional organizations have been united in the Arts are Basic Coalition (ABC) for federal and statewide advocacy. Led by the Maine Alliance for Arts Education, our coalition’s members, from all around the state, go beyond arts educators and include parents, students, community arts organizations and individual arts supporters – all eager to send a message about the importance of arts education and education in general.

Last fall our coalition created a new ABC Student Leadership Group that was inducted at the Blaine House, with the Governor as signatory. This group of 11 exemplary arts students from around the state is eager to add their advocacy voice and to create a wider network of student advocates. The current threat to school funding is putting all of us to the test, and we have already joined with our state partners, the Maine Education Association, to advocate for additional federal aid that will offset anticipated state and local budget reductions.

Maine arts educators are also developing innovative ideas to adjust their work to the new school safety guidelines. These include ideas that draw on the ways that the arts connect to social and emotional learning, such as giving students more opportunities to express the experiences they are living through and to connect meaningfully to others. They also draw on the arts’ connection to community economic development, giving arts students the tools to contribute to the creative economy of their communities, and involving them in initiatives that develop the potential of their community’s natural resources.

Education is the lifeblood of our young people’s and our state’s future. We as arts educators are excited about the ways that we can offer our positive energy and creative problem solving to Maine schools in this challenging time, and share ideas that can give us all hope. We look forward to staying in contact with you as we go into the summer months, and to continuing to work with you in the fall. You can reach us by contacting Susan Potters at s​potters@maineartsed.org​or 207 439-3169. Thank you!

Susan Potters,​​MAAE​

Benjamin Potvin, Victoria Cherry,​​MMEA

Lisa Ingraham,​​Theresa Cerceo,​​MAEA​

Rick Osann,​​MaineEdTA

Emma Campbell,​Maine Dance Educators

Delia Harms, ABC Student Leadership Group

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Young Artists in Quarantine

June 9, 2020

Student’s share their stories

This is part of a series highlighting the stories of young artists in quarantine. The period of free time that many people are experiencing has led to a sense of freedom in creating– when not held back by the standards expected by society and in much of art education (or needing to prove talent/fill resumes) it’s incredible what can be done. Alone in your room with just a paintbrush or guitar has led many students to find a new independence in art when they have the ability to create just for themselves. We’re hoping that by telling these stories, a change will occur in the way we approach arts education, to focus on the growth of the individual, even after quarantine comes to an end.

This post is written by Robyn Walker-Spencer, 2020 graduate, Camden Hills Regional High School who had the seed for this blog post series.

At 18 months, my family would play “name that tune” with me as I was strapped into my high chair, gleefully crying out the names of song after song, with an impressive base of musical knowledge for my age. I was by no means a prodigy at any point in my life, but as I grew up I felt my love for music grow with me. I took part in piano lessons, then band and chorus in middle school, and eventually musical theater, guitar, and chamber singers once in high school.

I never planned on studying music or becoming a professional in any aspect of the arts (I will be majoring in biology at Bowdoin in the fall), but it didn’t matter. Music and performing was something I always did for myself. As a child, I made up songs to sing as I played in the yard, and now I will play guitar for hours after a long day to blow off steam or relax. I love to express myself on stage, become an evil nanny or a god-fearing nun, and singing in Chamber Singers at my high school has always been cathartic.

I started lessons at Midcoast Music Academy in Rockland, Maine, in the spring of 2018. I was able to discover the importance of music to my own mental health, but perhaps more significantly I began to develop somewhat of my own musical pedagogy. Much of my previous music education had been extremely structured: practice for this rectial, prepare for this audition, complete a piece following specific guidelines. I practiced because I was told to practice (most of the time) but I didn’t enjoy it– it was seemingly necessary to get better, but I spent many a piano lesson wondering if it was even worth it. Starting high school added in another layer. Not only was our creative time structured, but many students kept participating for the sole reason of padding their resumes. At MCMA, I initially found it difficult to get away from the mindset of what I fondly considered mandatory misery– I wasn’t used to practice being something that I felt motivated and excited to do. So what changed? For the first time I wasn’t being ​told​ to do anything– each lesson was simply exploring what interested ​me,​ what ​I ​wanted to learn and improve at. And if my attention shifted, it was fine! We just moved in a new direction. I was practicing frequently because I wanted to, and because I was excited about what I was learning.

I think that this period of quarantine has provided that same sort of change for a lot of young artists my age. For the first time in a long time, we have all the time in the world and just ourselves to keep our minds busy. Groups like ​Quarantine Karaoke​ on Facebook show people coming together to make music from all over the world– people who normally never perform but are now creating for the sake of creating. I’ve seen friends pick up new instruments and play for themselves for the first time. I’ve personally stretched far out of my comfort zone, teaching myself recording techniques on my laptop and even writing a song for the first time. The period of free time has pulled aside the curtain and has really just exposed people’s raw selves: we are able to create art just for the sake of creating. We are practicing because we are excited about it. And we are taking risks that we never would otherwise.

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Maine Public

June 8, 2020

Lessons for grades 3-5 students

In addition to ‘schooling away from school’ teachers from across Maine have created videos focused on the learning for students in grades 3-5. This was a response to families who have little or no access to the internet. 2018 Maine Teacher of the Year, Sedomocha School music educator and Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader Kaitlin Young has a lesson included in the series. More videos will be posted in the near future.

The Learning Space is broadcast Mondays through Fridays at Maine Public Television.

12:00 p.m. – New episodes 12:30 – Rebroadcast episodes

Maine Public, the Maine Department of Education, and Educate Maine have joined forces to create original, educational programming for students in grades 3 through 5. Dedicated teachers from across Maine have developed original video lessons, pulling content from their own lesson plans and sources to provide exceptional learning opportunities for Maine students.

This project would not be possible without the help from these valued partners:

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Positive Outcomes

June 5, 2020

What are your thoughts and experiences?

I Invited past Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leaders and Leadership Team members to answer 4 questions – both personal and professional. Each day this week another set of answers is being posted. Today’s blog post includes answers to number 3. Please don’t hesitate to share your answers to the 4 questions. To the teachers who responded (so far. THANK YOU for your honesty and sharing your new reality. One word that came up for me as I read your responses was BRAVERY! I am grateful that you’re being brave for the learners across the state!

  1. Name one thing that has been an ‘ah-ha’ moment for you during ‘teaching away from school’? One success.
  2. What have you learned that you didn’t know before the school shut down?
  3. What are you doing to bring yourself joy/to take care of yourself?
  4. When this is all over – what do you imagine might be a positive that comes from the pandemic?

Kris Bisson says it best – YOU ALL ROCK!

The last three days blog posts have been filled with inspiration from the voices of Maine visual and performing arts educators. Today’s post is filled with HOPE. And, as we continue to deal with the biggest challenges of our lives I hope that you won’t forget the struggles that have the possibility of morphing into positives for our communities and the world. It will take all of us to continue working together and supporting one another. Thank you all for the amazing work you’re doing and for being such an inspiration to me and those who you touch in your worlds! Know that I’d love to hear your stories – please don’t hesitate to contact me at meartsed@gmail.com.

IMAGINE THE IMPACT 

  • That we will have made changes to focus on what really matters in our lives. This action will lead us to create teaching and learning environments that focus on relevance, action and compassion. ~ LINDSAY PINCHBECK
  • What scares me is that many educators, parents and administrators are saying “can’t wait to get back to normal”. All I can think about is the amazing things that we have learned to do in the past few months, how easy it is to collaborate, why push all that back into the “box” and “go back to normal”. CHARLIE JOHNSON
  • Normal wasn’t doing it for everyone. I like to think that we will be a much more compassionate group of educators, who, “Take time to smell the roses” with our students and not always operate at such a frenetic pace. I also think that snow days will never be the same again. We now know we can teach remotely on those wintry days! ~JENNI NULL
  • I hope with all my heart this will start a positive shift in education. I think teachers, empowered by the networking, shared experiences and tremendous PD opportunities, will demand change and in fact, be willing change agents. ~KATE SMITH
  • I hope families will continue to spend time together and walk together, slow down from the rush of life many of us were living in. I hope that all who are able will continue to work from home at least one day a week – this would cut the emissions by 20%.  ~SUE BARRE
  • My hope is that as a system we will have a better grasp of what students really need. I think many have seen first hand the joy that the arts bring while staying home with their families. I would love it if that carried over into schools and we begin to see more of a focus on social-emotional health and less on mandated testing. ~JEN ETTER
  • I hope there will be a greater appreciation for all the hard working first responders, grocery clerks, truck drivers and delivery workers. I hope that there will be greater respect and appreciation for teachers. Overall, I hope that the world views the arts as a cultural necessity to inspire, express, and support each other through stressful times. ~HOPE LORD
  • I really hope for a large scale “shaking of the etch -a-sketch” as I always say. We need to teach students how to learn, harness their natural curiosities and allow them to lead the way. Throw away our expectations of how and when things should be learned. I would also like to see a more cross curricular and holistic project based approach to learning. ~SHANNON WESTPHAL
  • I feel the obvious positive will be the appreciation for what teachers do on a daily basis. The bigger positive I am hopeful for is a change in society on people being kinder to each other and the planet, seeing the positive effects of humans being out and about less. ~JEFFREY ORTH
  • Families will eat dinner together, take walks together, sing together (I’ve seen some fabulous family sing a longs!) My wish is that they remember it all when this is over and don’t stop those things that are so important! ~LINDA MCVETY
  • Hopefully families will remember what it’s like to be a family and rely less on the screen and more on each other. Times spent outside together will be recognized as sacred and hopefully families will keep going outside together after this is all over. That’s my fervent wish.
    Personally, the positive for me is all the exercise and a little bit of weight loss. I’ve also enjoyed making the teaching videos for my kids. Whenever I run into parents or kids on the trails, they always mention how much they enjoy the videos. ~ALLIE RIMKUNAS
  • Our 7th grade students do not currently have art. Due to COVID 19, our 6th grade Gifted and Talented ART students will be missing a new field trip to the high school for ‘firing’ day. Our district has approved our elementary trip to be moved to the fall and to include the students leaving us for the middle school next year. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it inspired the school to create art field experiences for all 7th grade students? …recreate the 7th grade art classes as once existed? ~LYNDA LEONAS
  • When this is over I hope the clean, clear, fresh air so many, especially in cities, are experiencing right now will open their eyes to the beauty of it and have a positive impact on our environment and world for now on.  ~HOLLY LEIGHTON
  • I think one of the positives may be that we have a renewed appreciation for the community-building aspect of the arts. Right now it’s such a void that cannot be filled by technology. Yes, there are virtual ensembles that are beautiful, but they aren’t live. I’ve watched some phenomenal performances online, but for me, nothing matches the aesthetic power of being in the moment and sharing that moment with those around you.
    I think a positive outcome could be that we continue to make use of technological  resources we’ve discovered during this time of exclusively remote learning to change our thinking to how we can customize students’ experiences more. ~BILL BUZZA
  • There are many positives to this situation, but for me the biggest impact has been the ability to slow down without judgement.  I know this will be something I consider upon ‘reentry’ to my dance program. ~EMMA CAMPBELL
  • I hope we never have to use another snow day!  I hope there will be a better appreciation for teachers. ~JANE KIRTON
  • The increased connectivity and support between home and school, and between educators, has been the most apparent to me. It’s human nature to come together as communities during times of need. Even during these times where physical distancing is required, I have felt an increased sense of support and togetherness. This is a positive that’s come from COVID-19, and I hope it sticks around when we get “back to normal”. ~DORIE TRIPP
  • First of all, we have been “taught”, by being thrown into this situation, how to use a variety of resources that will help support our student’s learning. Whether through the use of online platforms, or simply the research of new ideas and possibilities, we have seen that many things are possible. I know I have learned a lot about different programs that I am excited about using in (and out of) the classroom. I think that this will also pave the way for utilizing “remote” learning in other situations as well such as snow days, or other interruptions to our daily schedules helping to support consistent development. It may also be an excellent resource for keeping students connected over extended breaks and bridge the gap of relapse we often see.While we have been separated, we have been able to connect with each other. In difficult times, people rise to the challenges. It brings communities together to fight and survive. It helps us to set aside differences to focus on what is most important. So, while I know this has been difficult, I think like many difficult situations in history, it will strengthen our communities.  ~ANTHONY LUFKIN
  • The one positive I can imagine is renewed appreciation for my real teaching experience, the one in the classroom, face to face, having those moments of greatness and inspiration and activity and noise and sass- from the students as well as me! ~DANETTE KERRIGAN
  • Many people will have adapted skills for distance learning and connecting with others anytime/anywhere. Distance learning is not only about using technology. It is about the human experience and reminding us of our desire for connectivity and the security that we are all in this together. ~LEAH OLSON
  • I have a saying that I have used with my students for a very long time…..”Yes you can, yes you will”.  After this is over I am hopeful they will know the truth in this and it will become. their mantra. ~DIANNE FENLASON
  • My fellow educators will be far more digitally savvy and will continue to utilize a blended learning approach since they now are beginning to understand the value of asynchronous learning. The Arts educators in my District have historically been excluded from targeted professional learning. Now we are actively developing courses and resources for them to continue their learning. The students will understand more about creation versus consumption. Their ability to explore resources and use their creativity with found objects in the Arts has already been exhibited. ~BARB VINAL
  • Professionally speaking I feel much better at technology. Personally I look at this time as a gift with my children. As a mom of teenagers I know they will be “leaving the nest” fairly soon and I truly cherish this time with them. ~ANDREA WOLLSTADT
  • A huge positive to carry over once this is done is the community that we have all done well to foster. Regardless of where we are geographically, people are willing to use any means of technology to help. That drive and ability to foster and support community is my hope of what carries into the after. It has been incredibly meaningful and heartfelt how we as a people honestly are striving to find the good in those around us.  ~IVA DAMON
  • I think we ALL – communities, parents, students, teachers – will all have a greater and deeper appreciation for school and all it entails. It’s been amazing to hear from everyone I talk to that EVERYONE misses it. We tend to spend a lot of time looking at the negative of our schools and jobs and not enough time just enjoying all that is wonderful about it all. I hope there is a lot we stop taking for granted. ~ROB WESTERBERG
  • My hope is that we do not lose the lessons we are learning about the interconnectedness of schools, teachers, and communities. I have reached out to the parents of my students in ways that weren’t really expected before we switched to remote learning. This will hopefully continue to be a priority once we figure out our ‘new normal’. ~LISA INGRAHAM
  • I think that teachers, families and students will be a little more appreciative of one another, and how much we need and rely on one another as we move forward. ~ CARMEL COLLINS
  • I’ve tried to provide very detailed lesson plans for students and families. Initially,  I still received LOTS of questions, “I don’t get its”, etc. That has lessened a bit. I think that sometimes we “overteach” and spoon-feed a lot of information. They are now forced to figure that out for themselves, and probably approach the assignments more creatively.  In any event,  those who are still engaged in their learning seem more resilient and creative. ~SUE BEAULIER
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Bringing Joy

June 4, 2020

What are your thoughts and experiences?

I Invited past Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leaders and Leadership Team members to answer 4 questions – both personal and professional. Each day this week another set of answers is being posted. Today’s blog post includes answers to number 3. Please don’t hesitate to share your answers to the 4 questions. To the teachers who responded (so far) – THANK YOU for your honesty and sharing your new reality. One word that came up for me as I read your responses was BRAVERY! I am grateful that you’re being brave for the learners across the state!

  1. Name one thing that has been an ‘ah-ha’ moment for you during ‘teaching away from school’? One success.
  2. What have you learned that you didn’t know before the school shut down?
  3. What are you doing to bring yourself joy/to take care of yourself?
  4. When this is all over – what do you imagine might be a positive that comes from the pandemic?

TAKING CARE

  • Drawing, painting, photographing with other people in mind, and writing hand written letters almost every day to my students and families. Walking in the woods with my dog, watching baby chicks grow and spending time in the garden. ~LINDSAY PINCHBECK
  • I get outside, I get up and move/exercise, I make art and I spend more time with my family. CHARLIE JOHNSON
  • I run everyday and have set workout routines. I am also in an excelerated graduate program for ESL certification, which requires extensive reading and writing. I am loving the courses and am super excited to be making this transition. ~CARMEL COLLINS
  • I’ve made art for myself, and cleaned the basement! ~SUE BEAULIER
  • Long walks, reading, listening to music, Zooming with my group of girlfriends every Tuesday night, and curling up at the day’s end with my furry friend. ~JENNI NULL
  • I read, run, walk, learn to identify bird calls, video conference with distant family, and reach out to friends I haven’t talked to in a long time. I’m learning to give myself grace. ~KATE SMITH
  • Walking – I walk every morning by myself and again mid-day with a family member or friend – I average 7-8 miles a day…it keeps me sane!  ~SUE BARRE
  • This took me a few weeks to figure out… I can’t be everything and do everything. It would be easy to work 16 hours a day in order to get better at remote teaching however that’s not fair to me or my family. The needs of family HAVE to come first— no matter what! In order to help with this I have made sure that when the school day “ends” (3:00) it REALLY ends and the screen goes off! ~JEN ETTER
  • During this stressful time, I am finding joy in some simple activities at home. I am baking bread, sewing masks, finishing some home improvement projects, preparing the garden for planting, playing cards and boardgames, reading, and going for walks. I look forward to kayaking and paddle boarding as the weather warms up. ~HOPE LORD
  • Running, taking my children to the ocean to explore and keeping tabs on the geese by our house who are nesting on some baby geese eggs.  ~SHANNON WESTPHALL
  • I have used this time to get back into the studio and create work. I am striving for at least an hour in the morning and then any other time I can carve out later in the day. ~JEFFREY ORTH
  • I’m taking more walks and getting my life organized. ~LINDA MCVETY
  • WALKING every day. Fortunately, a lovely set of trails just opened up last fall across the field from our house. I have walked the 2.5 miles of trails every single day since March 17th. They are wider than a car and I can walk with a sister or two and still stay distant. I’ve been photographing the frog and salamander eggs in the vernal pools to see what changes are happening. I’ve also been dedicated to drawing every day in a sketchbook. It is not bringing the joy I expected, but seems more like a chore. I’ve got to change how I do it to bring back the joy, but I don’t know what will help. ~ALLIE RIMKUNAS
  • I have been running, hiking or walking every day and that has been helpful to dispel the feeling of isolation. ~GLORIA HEWETT
  • Exercise generally gets removed from my weekly routine during the school year!  A K-6 art room is a fast moving place and my mind equates that daily rush with enough physical activity!  This time period has allowed me to re-set that thinking as I have been working without students in the physical space. Yoga online (Yoga with Adrienne) has allowed me to stretch without hurrying and tone muscles that get “short” attention during the 40 minute rushes within the art room day. One Saturday a month a group of family and friend artists gather for Art Club in my cellar. During this time, Virtual Art Club has been created for EVERY Saturday!  We check in twice a day through Zoom! Due to COVID19, I found that coworkers from other areas of education have been relying upon the arts to balance mindfulness; and, they have joined the art club! ~LYNDA LEONAS
  • I am doing the things I never seemed to have the time to do. I am painting and drawing with a passion, jumping into abstraction not caring about what others would say or how it comes out, painting for fun and as a form of therapy through these hard times. I have also been doing outdoor projects that I have been putting off for years which is my exercise. ~HOLLY LEIGHTON
  • I enjoy working outdoors in the garden, so my wife and I have spent much time in the yard trying to coax spring along. I have to constantly remind myself that my flowers and peas have their own timeline that I have to be patient for. I’m also working on getting caught up on reading Steve Berry novels. And I’ve started to challenge my physical flexibility by starting yoga. So far it’s been relaxing and worth many laughs.  ~BILL BUZZA
  • I love walking in the woods by my house, spending time with my daughter, and reading for fun! Being outside is for sure the biggest thing I do to improve my mindset. ~EMMA CAMPBELL
  • I have been working on our grounds (both camp and home) with my husband. Being outside as often as I can energizes me. ~JANE KIRTON
  • I am actually scheduling times, throughout the day, to take breaks. I create events in iCal to remind me to exercise, go outside, play with my son, etc. As silly as that sounds, I’ve found that it’s easy to sit down in front of my computer and get swept away by emails, zoom meetings, and other professional responsibilities. Scheduling these opportunities to step away has really helped my physical and mental health throughout this process. ~DORIE TRIPP
  • I live in a very rural area and enjoy being outdoors so I have spent much of my time taking in the fresh air. We are usually very busy people, during the week with busy schedules, and often out on adventures on the weekends. This “opportunity” has given us a lot of much needed home time, being together, working on “back burner” projects, and enjoying the space we call home. Researching ideas, creating “virtual” learning opportunities, and just experimenting with ideas has been inspiring. I have finally set up my “at home” studio, something I have been planning since I built my garage 4 years ago. I have had the time to create examples that are detailed, creating a bar of excellence for my capable students. In reality, I have been creating more art than I had been able to do working at school. I miss teaching in person very much, however this has been an opportunity for me to experience student processes and create art that is reinvigorating for me and more effective for students. ~ANTHONY LUFKIN
  • Honestly, I haven’t done the best at self-care because I have felt a need to respond immediately to every communication, training opportunity or video meeting immediately.  If Maine golf courses were open I would be caring for myself much better😉  I have been to our camp a few times to keep an eye on the water level and seeing the returning loons has been awesome. ~DIANNE FENLASON
  • I stick to a routine every day. I continue to dress for work (on the top!) including jewelry. I ride my stationary bike between meetings. I eat lunch with my educator husband as often as possible and I sit outside in the sun when I take a break. ~BARB VINAL
  • I have been doing a LOT of walking, taking a couple breaks each day to get outside. Of course also making art! Recently I tried rug hooking. It has been fun and I am working on making my first pillow. ~SAMANTHA ARMSTRONG
  • I love being outside. The school closure has allowed me to spend more time hiking, biking, nature walking, gardening, playing basketball with my kids, having epic bonfires, and some days simply sitting with the sun on my face. ~ANDREA WOLLSTADT
  • Self-care is so vital right now. I am doing a lot of walking and making sure to be outside as much as the Maine weather is allowing me to be. If you were in the neighborhood, it is now a routine to see me pushing my daughter in her stroller first thing in the morning and then again for her nap in the afternoon. Setting a routine and trying to hold myself accountable has helped. I am teaching online while also juggling my own two small children so those quiet walks have become my time to take a break from technology and enjoy the outdoors! ~IVA DAMON
  • Going for runs when the weather cooperates, zoom meetings with family and friends.~ROB WESTERBERG
  • I love my home. I am thankful to have a happy place in which to weather this storm. ~LISA INGRAHAM
  • I have worked hard to stay healthy, increased my exercise routines, started a garden, read a novel, realized that the time I can give myself makes the time I give to students that much more energized. ~DANETTE KERRIGAN
  • I’m reading a variety of ceramic books! There is so much to learn about in ceramics. I have a space in my home to create so vacation week was really fun working with clay. Exercise is also happening every day.  I take walks outside and appreciate the beauty here in Maine. ~LEAH OLSON
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Shutdown Learning

June 3, 2020

What are your thoughts and experiences?

I Invited past Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leaders and Leadership Team members to answer 4 questions – both personal and professional. Each day this week another set of answers is being posted. Today’s blog post includes answers to number 2. Please don’t hesitate to share your answers to the 4 questions. To the teachers who responded (so far) – THANK YOU for your honesty and sharing your new reality. One word that came up for me as I read your responses was BRAVERY! I am grateful that you’re being brave for the learners across the state!

  1. Name one thing that has been an ‘ah-ha’ moment for you during ‘teaching away from school’? One success.
  2. What have you learned that you didn’t know before the school shut down?
  3. What are you doing to bring yourself joy/to take care of yourself?
  4. When this is all over – what do you imagine might be a positive that comes from the pandemic?

SHUTDOWN LEARNING 

  • How resilient the children are and how important intrinsic motivation is. It will lead us through challenging times. High engagement and strong independent voices and projects occurred despite the disconnect, carried forward with the knowledge the students were in charge of their learning. ~LINDSAY PINCHBECK
  • The opportunity for teachers to clarify on the spot is somewhat diminished in the virtual “classroom”, so I have found I need to be much more mindful about what I am presenting and how it might be “read” by students. Having said that I find, just as I did 5-6 years ago when I started doing “virtual critiques” on Google+, that students were much more likely to use the “chat box when asked to offer an opinion. ~CHARLIE JOHNSON
  • I have learned that our school is more than just a vital part of the town. It is truly the heart of the community. We deliver meals weekly by bus to any families in need K-12. We are providing books for each student, as well as sending home learning packets that the bus driver and school nurse deliver to homes. One member of the community is donating masks she has made to the school for anyone who needs one. People are reaching out to one another to check that people are okay, and our superintendent is one of those who reaches out. Everyone is so grateful for the school, the staff, and each other. It is so heartwarming. ~JENNI NULL
  • My “bag of tricks” has certainly grown. I think when we do return to school I will find it much easier to differentiate instruction for my students using new technology that I have learned and relied so heavily on throughout this experience. ~JEN ETTER
  • I’m a technological dinosaur, and a proclaimed skeptic of social media. I still don’t have a Facebook account because I really don’t care what anyone is having for dinner,  and am pretty sure they don’t care what we’re having either. However…this virus has taught me how important social media is…I Zoom with my classes, but also hosted my Mom’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren for a virtual 89th birthday party. On the other hand, I have heard from kids and families, about how much they miss us.  Sadly, for some of these kids, we are the only people who are nice to them each day. ~SUE BEAULIER
  • I am going through my certification for ESL teaching, and I was toying with the idea of possibly beginning by teaching online. I now realize after teaching online for the last several weeks that this is not for me. As a teacher I need the physical energy of live students, the vitality, spirit and spontaneous reactions one can only foster through live in person interactions. I love and need the dynamics of a live classroom!!!!
    ~ CARMEL COLLINS
  • I contacted three composers who have written works my choruses are studying and each one of them has agreed to be interviewed by my students in a ZOOM meeting! I’ve created online platforms to help them examine the music, think about techniques the artist has used, passages for them to explore and sing, personal thoughts to ponder about the work, and then they are creating videos to ask their questions of the composer which helps them practice the technique they will use in our official upcoming interview. ~KRIS BISSON
  • Did you know you can change the narration speed in Audible? It’s true. You can also mute kids while teaching them on zoom. I’ve learned to appreciate the little things, to let go the things I cannot control, and to take advantage of free online accounts during pandemics. Oh, and where to find all the really good, free webinars. ~Kate Smith
  • Students are not as tech savvy as I had assumed. I am often leading them through some basics of recording etc…. ~SUE BARRE
  • One major skill I’ve gained is the use of Google classroom to post assignments, grade work, and video conference with my students. I am also learning how to use computer apps on the students’ laptops as art tools, like Google drawings and SketchBook, so that my students can continue to create art at home. I also learned how to utilize the Padlet site to set up visual display boards as a means for students to share their artwork and respond to each other’s art. ~HOPE LORD
  • I have learned to be better at prioritizing myself. It is natural for teachers to always feel the need to do more; it is hard to draw a line. Now that I have a family, it is easier to see the importance of finding and maintaining balance. ~SHANNON WESTPHAL
  • The importance of social gathering and interaction in person and that teaching is harder from a distance then in a classroom. I know that is obvious but it has been a bit more of a challenge. On the other hand, using Google classroom allows for more time for individual feedback. ~JEFFREY ORTH
  • I didn’t know how much I’d miss my kids. Especially now, the 5th graders. I may never see some of them again and it’s distressing. I’ll have to spend all of my spare time at Hannaford when this is over in hopes of running into them. ~ALLIE RIMKUNAS
  • As an art teacher I’ve had to think in a broader way about how best to teach not just art but how to teach students to think creatively. I’ve allowed more independent thinking than I do in my classroom because students bring a wider diversity of materials, time and understanding while working with a packet. They have pleasantly surprised me with their ingenuity. ~GLORIA HEWETT
  • Tech, Tech, Tech and Why to Make Time for It Outside of Class
    Taking the time to learn how to build websites and completing them for each of the two art rooms I teach at in Auburn!  Peek at the Week Learning Targets and Lesson Ideas along with fun at home skill building ideas without expensive art supplies can be posted along with highlights of our art programs such as YAM events. ~LYNDA LEONAS
  • I didn’t know how to use Google Classroom or Zoom which since the pandemic is required, I am learning them and plenty of other sites that are being shared with me. We are all helping each other out. ~HOLLY LEIGHTON
  • I feel like I’ve learned so much in such a short time as we’ve had to totally reinvent our profession literally overnight. At first I was surprised to learn (and be overwhelmed) by how many resources were out there and being offered to us to support continued music education. I’ve learned the importance of just taking a chance and trying something to see if it fits my teaching situation and my students. Just because one product or approach works in one school, doesn’t mean it will work for my students. A specific learning I’ve gained is what a powerful tool the product “Smartmusic” is for the instrumental music program. I had heard about this over the years, but never had the chance to explore it. Now I’m finding it a great tool to provide to students that can give them options to go in any musical direction of their choosing, and a great method of bringing a professional, full ensemble into their personal practice space. ~ BILL BUZZA
  • I think like most educators I have become very well versed in Zoom, or any video chat platform. I have tried to keep this connection with kids because I believe it is important for their social development and mental health. I am definitely slowing down which I am sure is a welcome change of pace for the kids. Trying to be more intuitive to their needs in this complicated time. ~EMMA CAMPBELL
  • I have learned how to set up and use my YouTube Channel, how to use Zoom, how to use SoundTrap and upload. Google Classroom has been wonderful. ~JANE KIRTON
  • I had no idea how to teach music lessons virtually. All of my experience has involved hands-on, in-person learning with children. It has been an enormous learning curve and has felt unnatural, but thanks to social media, professional organizations, and virtual workshops, I have been able to break through to get the job done. I am so grateful for colleagues, across the state and nation, who are willing to share activities, help troubleshoot technology, and problem solve with each other. I know that I wouldn’t have fared quite so well if it weren’t for this support. ~DORIE TRIPP
  • I would have to say I am very impressed with the capabilities of the technology we have been thrown into using, but have also become more aware of the inequities of access in our communities. I am very aware of the broad range of socio economic differences within our communities, but assumed that most people had access to online resources given the progression of technologies in the 21st century. While I still think there is some access, such as through a smartphone, it has become increasingly clear that many of our students do not have the access necessary to utilize the learning opportunities we are resorting to use.  I think and hope that this situation has helped many people gain access to quality online educational resources, and hope that the organizations that have helped make that happen will continue.  ~ANTHONY LUFKIN
  • I learned-in a real way- how important my colleagues were to me-(the other unified arts teachers) for support, collaboration and brainstorming.  I always knew that we were a strong team, but I was in awe of how we came together. ~DANETTE KERRIGAN
  • I’ve learned to Zoom, use Google Classroom and Google Meets, develop a website in WIX, send a Google Form to my students finding out what they have for materials at home they could use for sculpture. I found out everyone has pencils and nail polish. I learned to be flexible with art concepts and use the materials at home. My courses are so material and tool based that I had to forget about that completely and come at it from a different place. Not going to lie, this is hard! Students want to work with their hands so I have been thinking about how they can design with what they have readily available with no stress for the families.  ~LEAH OLSON
  • Throughout this experience (by watching my daughter and son, who attend two different high schools),  I have learned how very different communities and educational focuses vary within our state.  ~DIANNE FENLASON
  • I have learned many things every single day. Although I am now a Digital Learning Coordinator, I have learned from other educators about various online tools, ability to deliver content more effectively and how to really support my staff efficiently. ~BARB VINAL
  • What I have learned is that many of our students do not have internet access at home and they do not  have a device to access online remote learning. What I hope comes out of this as a state is that we find a way to provide internet access and devices to students to make learning more equitable. Especially thinking ahead to next year and how long remote learning might last.  ~SAMANTHA ARMSTRONG
  • I’ve learned that my students (and their families) are resilient and flexible. I’ve learned that my co-workers and administrators are extremely supportive. I feel very blessed to work in my district. People have been reaching out to one another in a myriad of ways and it’s truly heartwarming. ~ANDREA WOLLSTADT
  • Personally, I have learned to bake bread. It is both a lot easier and a lot more difficult than I had anticipated. Professionally, I have learned a lot in regards to both technology and learning to let go of things. Before this I had participated in video conferencing, setting appointments in Google Calendar, and I used Google Classroom, but now it’s normal to host multiple meetings per day. It has become the new
    normal to be sitting with my phone to check emails, one laptop to be running a meeting, and possibly a second laptop to be reviewing notes and materials while also entertaining a baby. Technology is an amazing thing, but knowing where to draw the line is really important. I may be comfortable with it, but that doesn’t mean my students or colleagues are. It also doesn’t mean that at my fourth or fifth meeting of the day I am as energized as I was for the first. Sometimes it ends up being more important to know when too much is too much and to communicate to others when one’s limits are near to being hit. In this new normal where we can constantly be putting so much of ourselves into devices and technology to help others, it’s important to know when to stop and take care of ourselves.~IVA DAMON
  • Good leadership is compassionate, flexible, informed, and hits the ground running! I am incredibly grateful for the decision-making taking place in my school district, at the MDOE, and the State House. The creative ways they have found to support students and teachers has been remarkable. ~LISA INGRAHAM
  • How critical “learning environment” is to student success. I’ve always cognitively known that, but I’ve really internalized it since we’ve been at home. It is quite honestly the linchpin that holds everything else together… never appreciated that to the degree that I do now. ~ROB WESTERBERG
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