Posts Tagged ‘Maine Arts Commission’

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Through the Intern’s Eyes

August 9, 2017

MALI: Enriching Arts Education in Maine

Hello there! My name’s Alex and this summer I’m working as an intern for the Maine Arts Commission. So far, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about the inner workings of the state-run cultural agency, what they stand for, the projects they support, and the events that they sponsor.

A typical week for me usually involves photographing public art, writing blog posts, compiling monthly arts events, and working on some graphic design. But last week, I took a break from my standard routine and joined nearly 70 arts educators at Thomas College where the Arts Commission hosted the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI).

Being the non-Maine native that I am, at first I had absolutely no idea what the institute was about. All I knew was that Thomas College’s quiet summer campus was all of a sudden bustling with crowds of energetic art teachers. Armed with my camera and my Nalgene water bottle, I set out to figure out what exactly was going on.

Luckily, I had the chance to sit down with Catherine Ring, one of the founders of MALI. She explained to me that the institute’s mission is to enrich arts education in Maine by enriching the skills of teachers themselves. In the 7 years since its creation, MALI’s professional development training has created an army of veteran “Teacher Leaders” who have shared their creative knowledge with over 1500 educators around Maine. At MALI, Teacher Leaders turn their experiences into lessons, sharing their creative methods with other arts educators through workshops, presentations, and webinars.

Catherine also said that a large part of being a Teacher Leader is acting as a liaison with their respective school districts, functioning as a representative voice for art teachers and students in their region.

It’s during these three action-packed days that the MALI summer institute aims to enhance arts educators’ skills, which in turn leads to empowered students who enjoy stronger ownership over their creative learning processes.

And what’s even more exciting is that by the end of the three days, each teaching artist and teacher leader will create and outline an individual action plan for the upcoming school year. The project could be anything from leading a workshop for an entire school’s faculty, to using grant money to create a new gallery space for a school community.It was inspiring to see the level of care the teachers have for bettering themselves and their lesson plans for their students. There’s so much that goes into prepping for the school year, and these arts teachers are dedicated, passionate, and itching to inspire.

During the institute, I crept into classrooms filled with teachers taking part in workshops, attending lectures, and sharing ideas for the sake of creative collaboration. Leaders spoke about assessments of creativity, the importance of problem-solving, and the values of media in the classroom, amongst many other topics. There was laughter, there were snacks, and there was something in the air that made Thomas College’s Admissions building come to life.

What I observed over the three days is that MALI works to better student’s education by strengthening the roots of creativity and learning. MALI’s intentions are so admirable that the feeling of personal and community enrichment was palpable. As much as MALI is a teaching space, it also functions as a meaningful point of community for visual and performing arts teachers and teaching artists who may feel isolated in less populated school districts. Just sitting in on the events for a few minutes offered me a glimpse into the importance of arts education on every level, from leader to teacher, teacher to teacher, teacher to student. I have no doubts that MALI has made a significant impact on arts education in Maine, and I’m sure the students feel that as well.

 

Alexandra Moreno is an intern at the Maine Arts Commission, a rising senior at Bowdoin College, and a happy human. She enjoys writing, collaging, and fun.

 

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MALI Reflections

August 8, 2017

What’s it really all about

As I take a few minutes to reflect on the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Summer Institute that was held last week at Thomas College for three days I can’t help but think about what MALI is really all about. If I had to select one word it would be COMMUNITY. As many of you know there are about 1200 visual and performing arts educators in the state and I really don’t know how many teaching artists there are throughout Maine. Both were well represented last week. Bottom line, each of the participants were teachers, striving to be better at teaching and the desire to connect with others who care deeply about arts education.

Wow, I am so humbled by their commitment and proud of what they accomplished in three days!

Reasons for MALIs success

  • Teachers teaching teachers is a critical component
  • MALI is a community that provides ongoing support. Teachers learn that they have peers throughout the state experiencing the same or similar situations that they do day to day. They no longer feel like islands.
  • This summer’s institute had three strands; one for Teaching Artist Leaders, one for returning TLs and one for new TLs. The strands are customized for the unique group and individual needs. The strands came together for cross pollination and collaborations are formed.
  • All of the ideas are based on research and what is in the best interest of teacher development.
  • Phase 7 New Teacher Leaders

    A Design Team guides the work of MALI and plan every detail of the summer institute. They are totally committed to contributing above and beyond.

  • The MALI community grows each year with some teacher leaders returning year after year.
  • Through their work TLs find their voice and are invigorated to return to their school districts. Many are recognized in their new leadership role and are invited to the table at the local level. They serve on district leadership committees, lead the school and district professional development work for all subjects and grade level teachers, and are honored for their leadership.
  • The institute schedule is different each year to adapt to the changing needs but the foundation is built on What is good teaching? What is good learning? What is good assessment?
  • Teaching Artist Leaders Phase 6 and 7

    In 2015 Teacher Leaders created a set of Belief Statements on that include the topics that are vital to Maine arts education today: Arts Integration, Advocacy, Assessment Literacy, Creativity and 21st Century Skills, Educator Effectiveness, Effective Teaching and Learning, Proficiency Based Learning and Student Centered Learning, and Teacher Leadership.

  • Teachers are connected and become Critical Friends to help support each other’s teaching.
  • MALI models teaching tools

So, what makes involvement in the MALI community so special?

Looking closely at Tim Christensen’s pottery are Jenni Driscoll, Jean Phillips, Tim, and Charlie Johnson

Participants comments

  • “MALI has helped me grow tremendously as a professional and my students grow tremendously as learners.” ~ Charlie Johnson, Visual Art Phase 1
  • “It’s leadership through the arts and as artist/teachers we have so much to offer.” ~ Cindi Kugell, Visual Art Phase 7 Teacher Leader
  • “MALI has made me feel like I have a voice in my school, my community and in my state. ~ Jen Etter, Music Phase 3 Teacher Leader
  • “It is a lifeline for arts educators and education. ~ Jane Snider, Visual Art Phase 2 Teacher Leader
  • “MALI allows us to share our artistic strengths and perspectives in a forum which will directly impact the educational experiences of children across the state of Maine. ~ Brigid Rankowski, Phase 6 Teaching Artist Leader
  • “I feel so validated in my beliefs in the arts being so important to the “WHOLE CHILD”. This week has allowed my confidence to soar in my building!” Amy Nucci, Visual Art Phase 7 Teacher Leader
  • Brian Evans-Jones, Teaching Artist Leader conducts poetry mini-lesson

    “MALI has helped me grow more confident both personally and professionally, especially as a leader. ~ Mandi Mitchell, Visual Art Phase 5 Teacher Leader

  • “It makes me brave. By stepping out of my comfort zone to try new things and improve my practice. MALI is my safety net. ~ Dorrie Tripp, Music Phase 7 Teacher Leader
  • “MALI allows me to connect with exceptional arts educators from across the state; share resources and knowledge and improve my teaching!” ~ Pam Chernesky, Visual Art Phase 6
  • “I am thrilled to be part of the MALI team and so energized for my year of learning ahead.” ~ Kris Bisson, Music Phase 7
  • “Because of my role as a MALI Teacher Leader I got the opportunity to be chosen as one of three teachers to lead the professional development work in my district. It takes you places.” ~ Holly Leighton, Visual Art Phase 5
  • “Through the MALI Summer Session I discovered that both my art and my teaching are really directed at the same goal (engagement/interaction) and that who I am is as important to teaching & learning as what I know”. ~Tom Luther, Teaching Artist, Music Phase 7 Teaching Artist Leader

Next steps

Some of the MALI Teacher Leaders (TL) and Teaching Artists Leaders (TAL) will be sharing their learning in a workshop format at the local or regional level. Others will be continuously sharing in a social media mode. The Phase 7 summer institute was really about customizing the learning for each educator. I will keep you posted as they wrap up their plans for the school year I will share the information here on the blog and also on the Maine Arts Assessment site and through the communications that are delivered by the Maine Arts Commission.

Please let me know (argy.nestor@maine.gov) if you have any questions and are interested in applying to be involved as a Teacher Leader or Teaching Artist Leader for Phase 8.

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MALI Summer Institute: Day 3

August 5, 2017

The learning continues

Our theatre folks, teaching artists leaders Dana Legawiec, Nicole Cardano, and teacher leader Jean Phillips

On the third day of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) summer institute ideas fell into place and the teacher leaders had multiple opportunities to come together to share their ideas and follow up plans. Traditionally the third day is stressful but also the most exciting since everything comes together.

The day started with the opportunity to learn about each other. We grouped and regrouped – how many years have you taught, what discipline, etc.? And, moving around the room doing so, mixed up the groups continuously and was a lot of fun!

We continued the day with an opportunity for new and returning teacher leaders to act as “critical friends”. In MALI the critical friend role is a leader who assists and supports another leader. This is done in a constructive way to help the teacher move forward with their ideas. Critical friends often continue the supportive beyond the summer institute.

Lindsay Pinchbeck, Design Team member, Kris Bisson, music teacher leader and Lynda Leonas, visual art teacher leader

Teacher leaders generated a list of topics/questions that were of interest. They selected a topic to discuss in small groups. The format is similar to an un-conference or Edcamp. Some went away with more questions and ideas that were new to them.

The rush was on to complete plans that describe actions for the next year. The day ended with participants sharing their plans in a Gallery Walk. Plans were filled with comments written on stickie notes to help each teacher leader continue working on their individual plans.

As we ended the day exhausted participants went away filled with the energy and ideas that everyone freely shared. We look forward to seeing the final plans in a couple of weeks!

WABI TV 5 visited during the day and featured the institute on the evening news.

The dancer stands alone, John Morris!

Critical friends: Samantha Armstrong and Hope Lord – visual art teachers

Critical friends – Jen Nash, music teacher leader and Laura Manchester, visual art teacher leader

 

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Teaching Artist Opportunity

May 26, 2017

Calling Teaching Artists – You’re Invited!

Summer Professional Development

Tuesday, August 1, 8:00 to 4:00

Thomas College, Waterville

The Maine Arts Commission invites teaching artists to attend an all day professional development opportunity on Tuesday, August 1. This will take place on the first day of the MAC Maine Arts Leadership Initiative summer institute on the beautiful campus of Thomas College in Waterville.

Teaching Artist Tim Christensen working with a Camden Rockport Middle School student during a residency

This year’s Teaching Artist professional development day is designed to focus on the role of the teaching artist and the relationship between the teaching artist and the K-12 arts educator.

The day includes workshops designed specifically for Teaching Artists focusing on a variety of topics: practices for Teaching Artists including standards, assessment, advocacy, marketing yourself, and more.

What will you get when you attend the Maine Arts Commission professional development day?

  • Information on applying your expertise as an artist to the structuring of your lessons and residencies.
  • Hands-on experience in relating the learning standards and assessments to your work.
  • Opportunities to network with PK-12 visual and performing arts teachers from Maine schools.
  • Participation in sessions that are planned to fit your needs as a teaching artist.
  • A light breakfast, a yummy lunch, and afternoon snacks

Teaching Artists interested in attending must register by CLICKING HERE.

Teaching Artist John Morris working with students in MSAD#33

To apply for the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist roster artists are required to attend the summer professional development opportunity. The Commission will be accepting applications in the fall of 2017. CLICK HERE for the MAC Teaching Artist roster.

Presented by Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) of the Maine Arts Commission. To learn more about the MALI please CLICK HERE. Facilitated by Teaching Artist John Morris and Music Educator Kate Smith.

If you have any questions please contact Argy Nestor, Director of Arts Education, Maine Arts Commission, argy.nestor@maine.gov or John Morris at JohnMorris08@gmail.com.

 

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Dance Education Grant Deadline Today

May 16, 2017

Funding available

Just in case you missed the information earlier….. The Thornton Academy dance education program collaborated with seven schools and studios with a culminating performance on November 18, 2016 and raised $3575. On March 4, 2017 Dancers Making a Difference, a non-profit organization held their fifth annual benefit performance with fourteen schools and studios performing to raise $6730. The total, $10,305.00, has been generously provided for the funding of this dance education grant program. This opportunity provides funding to support high-quality dance education for PreK-12 students and/or educators of this population in schools where dance education is not currently in place. This funding is meant to inspire and to exhibit the value of dance education.

Deadline: Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Total funding available to be divided: $10,305.00 (maximum award of $3,500)

The funding cycle for this program: September 1, 2017 through March 30, 2018

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Dancing in Kindergarten

May 14, 2017

Salsa, merengue, and more

Edwin Sorto is a kindergarten teacher at Kipp Academy in Washington, DC. He performs with a dance team that dance across the US. And, he’s teaching his students to dance as well. Along with the usual kindergarten curriculum Mr. Sorto is also teaching his young students how to dance – including salsa, merengue, and more. He posts the students moving to the music on Facebook and youtube. Mr. Sorto says: “They’re proud of what they do and love to see people’s reactions, comments, and likes on their videos. Their parents are also incredibly supportive. My kids are great, and this is just one more thing that keeps them engaged in school.”

See for yourself by CLICKING HERE.

Speaking of dance, remember that the Maine Arts Commission presently has a dance education grant available with the deadline of Tuesday, May 16. Information and the application is located by CLICKING HERE.

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Teacher Appreciation Week

May 8, 2017

Why I Teach?

Ever sit down and ask yourself “Why do I teach?” During my long career as a teacher in the classroom I asked myself that question sometimes at the end of an especially rough day. It helped me put the work into perspective. The only time I asked the question during the sweet moments was usually when someone else made the observation about how fortunate I was to touch the lives of young adolescents.

I often reflect on my days in my middle school classroom when I feel the pull of wanting to be back there. So, last summer when there was a movement around #why I teach it was fun to begin asking the question of arts educators who crossed my pathway. If you haven’t thought about it recently, please take a moment during Teacher Appreciation Week, ask yourself the question and email me your answer or click on “comment” below and let the Maine Arts Education blog readers know your thoughts.

Below are some that came from arts educators who attended the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Mega conference at Hebron Station School on March 17, 2017.

I TEACH BECAUSE…

  • I love seeing the ‘ah ha’ moments.
  • To give back the support and knowledge that I received when I was a young, aspiring artist!
  • Teaching the arts is my passion! My students teacher me something new every day!

Perhaps you’ve written down in a bubble your reason for teaching in the past at a MALI event but thoughts and ideas and reasons for teaching may have changed. If you’ve never done it or if you have in the past, please take a moment during Teacher Appreciation Week and know that what you’re doing is essential and the most important job in the world. That’s my belief and hope that you share it! Thanks for the work you do each and every day.

 

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