Posts Tagged ‘Holly Leighton Boyce’

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Silver Linings

March 12, 2021

Teacher Leader voices of Maine on the bright lights that the pandemic afforded

A year ago my school, like all schools in Maine, shut down because of the Covid outbreak. On Friday, March 13th staff left for the weekend without knowing what the next week was going to bring. Staff and parents and students quickly kicked into a complete ‘flex mode’ each day learning and building on our knowledge. In the beginning it was an amazing and unsettling feeling to watch, listen, and learn through a completely different lens. Everyone stepped up and each person, young and old, were terrific. The summer came and went with educators throughout the world considering the next steps. With open minds and a cooperative spirit the sharing of ideas flowed through the air waves (in most cases at no cost) and connected educators in a completely different way. I can only think of a couple of other times in my career when my pathways to learning were so rapid. As the 2020-21 school year progressed FLEXIBILITY continued to be necessary. And, as we pause for the one year anniversary of education changing drastically we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. My greatest hope is that our pathways of learning, sharing ideas, and collaborating will continue. And, I do hope that we simply don’t ‘go back’ to where we were before unless the pieces are in the best interest of every learner!

The following Maine Visual or Performing Arts Educators kindly provided their “silver linings” of the pandemic. We all have them, what is yours? Please email your silver linings at meartsed@gmail.com so we can continue to learn from each other.

  • I teach the littlest students. My silver lining is that, since class sizes are very small, there is time to hear all students’ stories, opinions, ideas, etc. There is also time for every student to have a turn at every activity. They get more individual attention than ever before. ~ Patti Gordan, Music Teacher, Raymond Elementary School
  • From Sue Barre, Grades 5-12 Band Director, Waterville Public Schools Like many school programs traveling with students to perform in other locations has been temporarily eliminated. Instead each high school ensemble commissioned a piece – reflective in some way to the last year we have all experienced. Ensemble members have had the opportunity for input and for interaction with the composers. “This experience has been so much more than I anticipated, really cool to watch students learn in a whole new way”!
    • In band I asked the students what dates were of importance to them and these are some that came forward: 3/31/20 – last day of school, 5/25/20 – death of George Floyd and 1/6/21 were some of the dates that came forward. 
    • I asked for sounds that they connected to last year and ideas such as email arriving into the box, sirens and silence came up…   
    • The most fascinating sessions were with the composer sharing ideas. The chorus and orchestra have had different experiences than the band. 
    • In May we hope to have a socially distanced event to share the debuts and senior recognition night all wrapped into one. 
  • From Kate Smith, Music Teacher Central Elementary School, So. Berwick
    • The pandemic has increased awareness of the value of reliable daycare and how it effects the wellbeing of an economy. I hope this will lead to additional and consistent financial support from the government.
    • Smaller class sizes have enabled more personalized, individualized and differentiated instruction. Students can ask more questions and have more turns. I am more likely to have enough instruments or resources for everyone. 
    • Free professional development opportunities abound like never before. I’ve seen increased collaboration between educators within districts, states and even internationally. Everyone has had to learn how to use technology like video conferencing which means everyone now has the skills to connect online. I hope this continues. 
  • My silver lining is the freedom this chaotic moment in time has presented to try something completely different. I am sharing photos from one of my third grade classes this week. We went outside to make art as a whole-class reward for the great choices they’ve made during the last 6 weeks that we’ve all been back together at Madison Elementary. (Other classes will earn their “Outside Art”, too. It just may take a little longer : ) I gave these students snow block makers and spray bottles filled with watercolor paint and pointed them to the snow. It was a blast and it made my art teacher heart happy to see the creativity and teamwork this class demonstrated.  ~ Lisa Ingraham, K-4 Art Teacher, Madison Elementary School, K-12 Gifted & Talented, MSAD 59
  • I have several silver fillings, I mean linings. But one came out the other day that I totally didn’t realize was there.In the pre-covidian era, it was a weekly inevitability  that a first grader would raise their hand and say” Mrs. R., I lost a tooth!” Of course every other hand in the room would shoot up and a chorus ensued with the end result that we would lose 5 minutes of Art time. This has been missing for almost a year now and despite having the 5 minutes back, I really miss those gap-tooth smiles. So I guess it is more like a silver filling after all.  ~Allie Rimkunas, Great Falls Elementary School Art Teacher
  • Thanks to Coronavirus – both the time I have gotten back with my family and the strides I have made in differentiated learning for my classroom. Technology resources have made it so learning can happen anywhere and for any student with the click of a button. ~Iva Damon, Leavitt Area High School Art Teacher, Humanities Network Leader
  • From Hope Lord, Maranacook Middle School Art Teacher
    • Zoom Parent Teacher Conferences are very efficient and I am able to attend multiple meetings to speak to parents of advisees and students in my classes. In traditional conferences I would have to decide which meetings to attend. Now I can join a meeting and share and then leave and join another student’s meeting within a few seconds. It’s been a great tool.
    • Another wonderful benefit from having to adapt to teaching during a pandemic is that most of my teaching resources, videos, assignments, and assessments are now available online through Google Classroom. If a student is absent, they will have access to the lesson online and can complete the work at home when they feel better and not fall behind. 
    • Lastly, no more snow days that extend the school year way into June. Since we have had remote learning days, we have not had a snow day. We won’t have to be in school until the end of June! 
  • My silver lining…….hmmm. No more photos turned in or left on the dryer in the darkroom : ” STUDENT ARTIST  UNKNOWN”!  Now that work is digital and submitted in Google CLassroom I ALWAYS know whose image it is!  ~Jennie Driscoll, Brunswick High School Art Teacher
  • We all have the students that are quiet in school, do not talk, that seem to want to be invisible and they never participate in class discussions, nor would I make them. I always wondered and worried about these students. When we went to remote some of these students slowly began to come out of their armor they had built up. We began to have rich conversations about their art work and the deep meanings they put into them and they share the art they do on their own. They are comfortable in their own environment and slowly have come to life and I have the privilege of really getting to know them. I look forward to my zoom sessions with these students where they smile and laugh and share their ideas with me. Connecting with these students is my positive out of the negative, my “silver lining”.      ~Holly (Leighton) Boyce, Mattanawcook Academy Art Teacher
  • I have been having – hands down – one of the most rewarding school years of my career. I’ve been creating my curriculum several weeks ahead of teaching it all year so far. And what it has done is:
    • reinforce that singing and playing is not content: it’s DELIVERY
    • when the delivery method changes that there are many other ways of delivering content
    • my program is not built on my students’ emotional dependence on it, so the transition away from singing was pretty easy
    • being a good teacher is not dependent on circumstances ~Rob Westerberg, Music Educator, York High School
  • From Eva Wagner, Bangor High School Art Teacher Class size for sure, so much better in the art room to have smaller class sizes. Eva wrote these amazing Silver Linings – Haiku Style:

From Leah Olson, Ellsworth High School Art Teacher

  •  The silver linings that I’ve discovered in the age of covid are many! Since March 13th, life has been a bumpy journey to say the least! The hybrid of learning for students has forced me to rethink projects differently in regards to curriculum, material use and social interactions in and out of the art room. In regards to curriculum, I had to change my units as immediately as school started in the fall. I realized that my units were not going to work as well for students who were completely remote. So, I met them where they were at. Units were and are chunked down with reinforcing the basic concepts of ceramics and jewelry. It has worked out so well that I may rethink the sequential curriculum for next year! 
    • In regards to using technology, I’ve been using Google Folders for years as portfolios to grade student work, so that was easy to keep track of student progress. I started using Google Classroom last year after March 13th to post Zoom Meeting links and reminders. The newest learning tool to navigate around was creating a Google website that students could access rubrics, videos and links most relevant to the lesson. It’s been so helpful for students to access this if they miss a class or need a review of the techniques. The silver lining is that I finally created a website that can be used in the years to come! : )
    • Another silver lining is that through the covid grant, I was able to purchase materials so that Ellsworth High School students could work from home and from school. Because of this, students would create two projects using the same technique – the easier project would be done at home and the more difficult one would be done at school. This reinforced fluency and confidence using the tools and materials.   
    • Having no more than ten students in class allows me to demonstrate techniques for students remotely and physically. I’ve been able to work alongside with students in a way I never could before. While they are working with their works, I am too. We talk with each other, laugh, and at the same time, the bar is raised. The social connections with students could not be experienced in the same way as a class of twenty. You all know what I mean! There is time to talk with one another.
    • Finally, I’m also learning more about teaching ceramics through trial and error. Like, don’t travel with bone dry projects. Telling students to not leave clay in the freezing cold car overnight, and cheese graters at the Dollar Tree work great for downsizing thick places in pots and evening out the surfaces. I learned that cutting pinch pots in half to see the thickness of the walls make for better pinch pot luminaries, raku clay is an excellent starter clay for slab containers because you don’t have to wait to join the walls, watercolor underglazes are a game changer for creativity and traveling back and forth from home to school. This is just to name a few! I often wonder what students will think of learning about jewelry and ceramics through the pandemic years from now. Hopefully, they will look at something they made and see the year 2020 or 2021 scratched into their work and feel a sense of relief, pride, and nostalgia! I am reminded daily by the phrase, “The Darkest Nights Produce The Brightest Stars”.
Sierra Andrews) who absolutely loves her “Mainely Mug”
Think you can “Handle It” assignment
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