Posts Tagged ‘arts educadtion’


What is a Teacher Leader?

June 23, 2015

 What do you think?

In March 2014 the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative Teacher Leaders were asked to answer the following question: What is a Teacher Leader. Below are their answers.

able to see big picture… flexible/able to change their practice – effective communicator – good listener -facilitator – able to think on their feet – committed/passionate/reflective

life long learner

someone who can model/mentor in their discipline for other teachers and admin.

someone who is passionate about their work as an arts educator

everyone needs to define for self in multiple contexts: class, school, state, national…

someone willing to share and be flexible, willing to try new things + take risks… willing to jump in

someone with vision and abilities –communication skills -may not know it!

stand up for principles and advocate!

identify your strengths and those being led

someone with desire to improve and willing to face new changes.-an engaged learner-aware of

strengths and weaknesses

needs sense of purpose and guidelines as to how to fill that purpose

share in multiple ways; “talking about” isn’t always best

how evolved… where going… not a recipe

importance of developing your voice as a TL

be a facilitator

focused on student growth & well-being- student centered!

share your experience and engage the participants and provide resources

realistic expectations for self and community

modeling and giving good examples

needs to be animated/enthusiastic (especially as a teacher with kids)


Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Samantha Davis

March 10, 2015

MAAI Teacher Leaders series

This is the fourth blog post for 2015 on the Phase 4 Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s (MAAI) Teacher Leaders sharing their stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to learn from and about others. You can learn more about MAAI at and learn more about all 61 of the MAAI Teacher Leaders at!teacher-leaders/c1qxk.

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 4.53.33 AMSamantha Davis is a visual arts teacher for grades 6 through 8 at Molly Ockett Middle School in Fryeburg, Maine. She is in her first year in this position. She teaches all students at Molly Ockett Middle School, which is approximately 240. The students have visual art for one quarter – 5 days per week, 50 minutes per day (and then rotate to Physical Education, Health, or Music for the next quarter(s)). Prior to teaching in Fryeburg, Samantha taught visual art at the high school level at Sumner Memorial High School in Sullivan, Maine from 2010-2013. She obtained her B.A. in Art Education at the University of Maine in Orono in 2010.

What do you like best about being an art educator?

I like being a part of my students’ experiences of discovery and creativity; of their excitement with exploring media and engaging in their varied artistic processes.

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

  1. CONNECTION – Arts educators collaborating with one another, administration, parents, and most importantly, students!
  2. RISK-TAKING – A willingness to try something new and different…and do it often.
  3. ADVOCACY – Getting others on board with believing that the arts program is essential to the educational experience of all children.

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

Assessment has taken many shapes and forms in my classroom, but it consistently keeps me grounded. As a teacher, developing assessments requires me to reflect on what is truly essential for my students to know and be able to do as a result of being in the art program. Developing my units, lessons, and projects around assessments keeps everything focused on the end goal. Having clear assessments steers my classroom away from the “opinion-based” or “judgement-based” grading that many students have experienced, and drives it toward meaningful conversation and reflection, authentic learning, and measurable growth.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

By far, the benefit that stands out in my mind the most is that of connection. In my short career as a teacher, I have already discovered how detrimental it is to be isolated in this field (in particular, as an arts educator). Being a part of MAAI has brought me to the heart of what I do, and that is connecting with others through meaningful collaboration, shared experience, team-building, constructive feedback, and all of the other fruits of being connected with other people who are passionate about what I am passionate about.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I cannot point to a single event or achievement in time, but I am proud of my “spark.” I crave new learning about my field. I am excited about trying new things and I continue to work toward improving myself as a teacher and artist. I am a big-picture person, so I am continually thinking about the vision for my classroom and the art program in my district. I am excited about things to come and I think my “spark” will take me to places I can now only dream of.

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

I think many things get in the way of a becoming a better teacher. First and foremost, I think a teacher can get in his/her own way. I know this to be true from experience. Self-doubt can be crippling and it can have a domino effect.  Teachers also need to take care of themselves (eat, sleep, play) or their work will suffer. Lack of support from administration will most certainly get in the way. Lack of connection with other educators will, too.

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

I have a difficult time thinking of something that I have done that would be considered due to luck or circumstantial, but what I will say (that is somewhat related to the question) is that we teachers (especially arts educators) do a lot of background/behind the scenes work that is not obvious to others. We have to prep materials and space, practice  skills with our students outside of regular class time, test projects before assigning them to students, and the list goes on! What is visible to others is not always the full picture of the work that was put in!

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

Keeping reasonable expectations of ourselves as teachers is important. Celebrating small accomplishments can keep teachers excited and motivated. Fixating on seemingly large shortcomings can set huge obstacles and does not lead toward improvement, but rather more self-doubt and criticism. Being kind to ourselves is necessary before we can be kind to others we work with – especially our students.

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

I would like to expand the art program at my school by obtaining the following: a ceramics studio,  photography equipment, printmaking equipment, standing tables, full-size easels, and funding for field trips.

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

I think I will always have small regrets in life, but in general, I do not have any major ones. I see a life fully lived and many dreams fulfilled. I see many lives I have touched, but most importantly, many lives who have touched mine.

MAAI Logo_Color_TxtCtr


Another Arts Teachers’ Story: Alice Sullivan

March 27, 2012

Featuring one teacher’s journey as an arts educator

This is the second in a series of blog posts telling arts teachers’ stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to read their stories and to learn from others. This post features Alice Sullivan who has been teaching music for 27 years. Alice is one of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s Teacher Leaders, Phase I, and represents the region of Washington County.

Alice is currently teaching, grades K-12, at Woodland Jr. Sr. High School, Woodland Elementary School and Princeton Elementary School. She has been there for 6 years teaching 200 students, band program grades 4-12, some classroom music K-4 and junior high general music, digital arts class and music theory at the high school, and one small elementary chorus.

What do you like best about being a music/art/drama/dance educator?

I really like the opportunity to use my organizational skills in an environment where I can also be creative. The music room is a great place to find a balance between hard and fast standards and finding numerous ways of meeting those standards. Twenty seven years of concerts with no two being the same, but every year I strive to provide every student with the same well rounded music education.

Tell me what you think are three keys to ANY successful arts ed program?

  •  a commitment to stretching the limits (your own and those around you)
  • a belief that what you do is important
  • enough confidence in your skills to take risks

What specific way(s) do your assessment practices tie into the success of your program?

Developing solid assessment practices sends the message to those around you that you believe your program is valuable and worthy of reflection. This instills a sense of importance in your students and as a result they strive to reach higher goals. I often say to my students – “who wants to belong to the good enough club”? An assessment is a tangible way for my students to prove the level they have attained, to themselves and others.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

There have been so many benefits to being part of the arts assessment initiative. The first that comes to mind is the great opportunity to network with other educators. It has also helped to keep assessment practices foremost in my daily teaching. With so many things to do each week, priorities become a necessity. Having weekly connections through the arts initiative wiki has ensured that assessments make my priority list.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I’ve always believed that music is a gift that all students can and should receive. My classes have always been available to all students. I’m most proud of the moments when the reluctant musicians realized they did have musical talent.

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


Apple or PC?

Both – depends on the job I want to get done.

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

Exceptional concerts are a reflection of hard work and determination. A good performance is often attributed to talent or “good” students. I believe even very young and inexperienced performers can present quality programs with hard work and determination.

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

Enjoy what you do. Focus on the positive forces in your environment and link arms with those who also have a positive outlook.

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

I would travel. I want to see the world and share those experiences with the people around me.

This is a link to the wiki that Alice created that includes her marvelous resources: If you have comments or questions for Alice please put them in the “comment” section below.

Thank you Alice for telling your story!

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