Posts Tagged ‘Charles Michaud’

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Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Charles Michaud

March 28, 2017

MALI Teacher Leaders Series

This is the fifth blog post of the Phase 6 Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leader stories. This series includes a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about the work each Maine visual or performing arts teacher or artist is doing.  CLICK HERE  for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE  for more information on the 81 Teacher Leaders plus 4 Teaching Artist Leaders.  CLICK HERE  for Arts education resources. CLICK HERE  for the MALI Resource Bank. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past teacher leader stories. There have been 75 posted to date. Thank you Charles for sharing your story!

Charles Michaud is the Pre-K – 12 music teacher at MSAD#33 in Frenchville and St. Agatha, MSAD#33 has a little less than 200 students and is located on the northern border of the state.  Charles teaches general music for grades Pre-K – 6, and offers band for students from grades 4 – 6.  This is his third year teaching at Wisdom Middle/High School and Dr. Levesque Elementary School.

What do you like best about being a music educator?

In my opinion, the best part of being a music educator are the moments when learners surprise themselves by playing or singing something impressive. They light up and gain a whole new confidence in themselves.

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

  1. Accessibility: Learners need opportunities to access the arts. While this seems like common sense from an outsider’s perspective, we all know the challenges of fitting in the schedule.
  2. Customization: A program that adapts to the abilities of the students requires customizing lessons and materials to meet the learning styles and speeds of the learners. I think that the best way to draw students into the arts is to make the arts theirs.
  3. Appropriateness: Every arts program exists within the context of the community. Make sure the goals of the program not only provides access to the broader arts world, but also has deep roots in the musical culture of the area. Many programs try to adapt the local culture to fit their music, but I think a successful program draws the community in by drawing the local musical culture into the program.

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

Assessment is a big cog in the learning machine. Assessment is communication about learning, and plays an essential role in my classroom.

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

MALI has given me access to a community of arts educators on the cutting edge of their disciplines. Our collaborations and conversations have pushed me to innovate as an arts educator, which has been all to the benefit of my students.

What are you most proud of in your career?

The strength of community in my band is what has made me the most proud in my short career.  In the end, I find that what keeps students coming back year after year is that band is their home away from home.

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

My biggest barrier to becoming a better teacher is a lack of time for developing all of the cool new lessons and methods that I would like to try. Imagine what a few solid weeks of straight lesson planning could do for a teacher!

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

Increasing the numbers in the music program has been my challenge since year one. I have been very successful in this regard, but it could easily be attributed to the great students that we have in our district.

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

Work hard and be innovative, because proficiency based education can present some very unique opportunities for the arts.

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

If my program received 500k, I would create a position that bridges the gap from arts in school and arts in the community. This would connect my students with authentic learning experiences, and give them a model context for their role in the local arts scene.

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

I have a long road to travel before I hit 94, so I will almost inevitably regret something. For now, however, I am very content with the choices that I have made. Fingers crossed!

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Dance Grant Series 3

February 11, 2017

Dance education funding – “Hopes for the Future”

This is the third of three blog posts included, February 9 – 11, describing the dance education residency that took place in December 2016 from a special grant called the “Hopes for the Future” funding. Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leader and dance educator from Thornton Academy Emma Campbell collaborated and planted a seed and it grew into a dance education opportunity for Maine students. Thank you to John Morris, teaching artist and dancer for contributing this post. He describes the work that he did in MSAD #33 with the grant funding. Please note: funding will be available again during 2017. Please watch the blog and the Maine Arts Commission arts education list-serv for information.

A Teaching Artist’s Perspective

John Morris

John Morris

Thanks to a dance grant created by the Thornton Academy Dance Program and the Maine Arts Commission, in December of 2016 I conducted a week-long arts residency for MSAD #33, in Northern Aroostook County. My approach in working with students in dance is creative, student-centered and standards-based. I give students foundational movement tools to invent and explore their own movement, and I guide them through the process of making their own dances.

In collaboration with visual arts teacher Theresa Cerceo, I worked with a group of middle and high school students, and with S.L.A.M.!, the high school arts advocacy group directed by Ms. Cerceo, to create dances based on a theme of identity and community. The dances were shared during an end of week holiday performance put on at Wisdom Middle/High School.

img_4561During the week, I also worked with music classes at the elementary school in the district. Along with music teacher Charles Michaud, we explored connections between the elements of music and dance. In addition, I worked with Ms. Cerceo’s visual arts classes to explore the same theme of identity and community.

It was a full week working with every grade level, from Pre-K through grade six, to explore their class content in movement. The students created dances based on poems and visual art works they had made individually and as a group in the weeks before the residency. Their dances incorporated the elements of dance movement, including use of different shapes, change of speeds, and variation of high, middle and low levels. We worked together to structure their dances with clear beginnings, middles and endings. We also addressed the crucial life skills of collaborating with others, building confidence, and evaluating work – all in one class session.

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-1-51-58-pmI encountered students in the elementary school at every age and developmental level who were eager to move, explore, and make connections to other content areas, including music, visual art and language arts. They were curious, inventive, and open to exploring the arts in a structured way to express their thoughts and feelings.

The middle and high school students, having more time together, were able to more deeply explore the dynamics of working collaboratively, the process of making artistic choices, and polishing artistic work for performance.

The week went by in a blur, and before I knew it, the performance (a full house!) was over, and I was making the long drive toward southern Maine. I felt both satisfied and inspired by the students’ work. What made this residency so successful? Three factors, which I believe are important for the success of any arts residency in the schools, stood out.

Planning and prep work in collaboration with the teacher

img_4610 Ms. Cerceo and I were in contact long before the residency began, brainstorming ideas together using a shared Google Doc that allowed us to work around our busy schedules. We arrived at a theme (identity and community) that would be timely for her students to explore in visual art and writing, and that I could work with easily in dance.

As the residency drew closer, we continued to share documents, trade emails, and supplement with a few timely online conference calls. Ms. Cerceo articulated her plan for exploring the theme with her students before my arrival. I shared an outline of how I would approach the theme in movement based on her work and the student samples she posted online. This step was critical, helping me to be ready with a flexible plan for each class, and know what to expect when I walked into each classroom.

Full support of the school administration

img_4641Ms. Cerceo maintained regular contact with her administrators about our plans. As a visiting teaching artist, it was both reassuring and freeing for me to know that I had their support. I felt free to fully engage with the students in the creative process of dance-making.

The administrators introduced themselves and welcomed me to their schools. The superintendent of schools in the district sat down with me early one morning before classes began to talk about the residency. The teachers I met expressed their support for the project, and turned out in force for the performance on Friday night.

 

Classroom culture

img_4570I could tell that the students were used to focusing on the process of structured creative exploration in their classes. Also, because their teachers had prepared them for my visit, they were excited and positive about our working together. One fourth grade student even sent me a video in advance, inviting me to create a dance with her!

This expectant, growth-oriented mindset set the tone for our time together, and was supported by the collaborative planning Ms. Cerceo and I did beforehand. The connections she and I found between our ways of working helped her to guide the students with confidence that my work with them would integrate with their classwork, and deepen their connections to the arts.

Thank you John Morris for providing this blog post and the work that you did before and during the dance education residency in MSAD #33. I am sure that the learning that you provided will be felt for the lifetime of those involved.

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Dance Grant Series 2

February 10, 2017

Dance education funding – “Hopes for the Future”

This is the second of three blog posts that will be included, February 9 – 11, describing the dance education residency that took place in December 2016 from a special grant called the “Hopes for the Future” funding. Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leader and dance educator from Thornton Academy Emma Campbell collaborated and planted a seed and it grew into a dance education opportunity for Maine students. Please note: funding will be available again during 2017. Please watch the blog and the Maine Arts Commission arts education list-serv for information. Thank you to Theresa Cerceo and Charles Michaud for their contributions to this blog post.

img_4626On a chilly Friday night in early December the Wisdom Middle / High School Arts Faculty hosted the Holiday Night of the Arts. The performance was very well attended with the Wisdom High School cafeteria being filled nearly to capacity. The audience was treated to a variety of holiday songs, new and old. In addition, SLAM!, the Student Leadership in the Arts Movement, Wisdom’s student led arts advocacy group, created a performance art piece as a form of arts advocacy. The evening included the Pioneer Band, solo performances,  student artwork, and for the first time ever, thanks to the Teaching Artist Dance Grant from the Maine Arts Commission and the Thornton Academy dance program, two dance performances under the direction of teaching artist, John Morris. The students created dance performances were the result of a week-long residency with Mr. Morris. Students worked with Mr. Morris & art educator Ms. Theresa Cerceo to create original dance pieces based on students’ poems around the theme of identity & community.

img_4607Throughout the week, John worked with two groups of high school students, S.L.A.M.! and a volunteer group of 8 students that became known as, The Butterfly Group. The students worked with John, first learning basic techniques, warm ups and then exploring concepts around identity. S.L.A.M.! used a poem about artistic process and struggle written by member, Jasmine DeMoranville, as inspiration for exploring personal expression and collaboration. The Butterfly Group took time to write “I am…” poems and then, individually created movements in response to their writing. Through much planning; reflection, critique and practice, the students worked with John to use their individual work and build a unified dance that expressed their interdependence as a community.

Student comments

“This work was more intense then I thought it would be and I learned more about physical motion then I thought I would.  It opened my eyes to a new medium of expression that I never explored before. SLAM!” ~ Daley

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John Morris

“The experience last week was beyond words. It actually taught me that any idea can be turned into something great and to never give up, no matter how stupid it may seem. It also taught me that there can be different interpretations to your idea that may contribute to other great ideas. Yes, I was shy because that shell of me is still not gone but I think this experience finally cracked my shell a bit and I know that SLAM! is capable of cracking and breaking my shell little by little. This dance residency helped me think of new ideas for SLAM!. What I want to do with SLAM (since it is my first and final year)  is to have fun and really advocate for art (music, dance, art, drama) in the community and I think the things that happened (the week of the dance residency)  is really going to help me throughout the entire year with my ideas because I have learned that no idea is going to go wasted and it could trigger other ideas!”  ~ Kelly

“As the author of the poem, it was an incredible experience to see and be a part of the process of transforming my poetry into another form of art. Watching (other students) interpret my work deeply and out loud is something I’ve never really had before. Seeing the thought process and the thoughts that it instilled was amazing. Then performing it was really incredible.” ~ Jasmine

img_4639In addition to the work Mr. Morris did at the Wisdom Middle/High School, he had a full week, teaching in the elementary visual art and music classes as well. Along with Mr. Charles Michaud, John worked with general music classes, using dance to teach music elements.  The work done in the Ms. Cerceo’s  classroom was integrated with visual art lessons that were implemented before Mr. Morris’ arrival, around the theme of individual and community identity. Under John’s direction, students used dance to further explore their compositions as well as artistic purpose and communication. These dances included individual, small group and whole class collaboration.

 

Reflections from grade 5 students:

  • “I learned to personify a painting (using elements; pattern, repetition, etc.).”
  • “There are more categories of dance than I thought.”
  • “Dances need cooperation & teamwork.”
  • “You can see a painting and then dance it out!”
  • “I figured out that movement is a type of beautiful art.”
Theresa Cerceo and Charles Michaud

Theresa Cerceo and Charles Michaud

“As arts educators, our goals are centered around the students. We are here to give our learners a place to be self directed, a place to explore and express themselves and their emotions, and a community where their differences are strengths instead of mistakes. Being able to include dance into our arts program at MSAD #33 has expanded our the students’ understanding of arts and arts education and has increased our knowledge base as educators.” ~ Theresa Cerceo and Charles Michaud

Highlights

This video provides highlights of the dance education residency. Thank you to Theresa for creating it! https://vimeo.com/198665764

February 9-11 are the blog posts about the dance education residency in MSAD #33. If you have questions please don’t hesitate to contact me at argy.nestor@maine.gov.

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