Posts Tagged ‘Maine arts educators’

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Happy Arts Education Month

March 1, 2021

Celebrate!

On Wednesday, February 17 Arts Education Advocacy Day was celebrated during a zoom a plenary session provided by the Arts are Basic Coalition (ABC) and the Maine Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE) working with the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Arts Commission. All of Maine’s professional arts education organizations leaders are members of ABC and presented along with amazing student voices. I’m sure many of the Maine Arts Education blog readers attended.

Commissioner of Education, Pender Makin, participated in the event and I think her message is a great place to start March – Arts Education Month. I encourage you to share her message with your colleagues (visual and performing arts educators and all others), with parents, school board members and your community members. The archive of the plenary session will be available and provided by MAAE in the very near future.

COMMISSIONER PENDER MAKIN’S MESSAGE

We (MDOE) value the arts in education extremely highly and perhaps above everything else and here’s why: it’s more than the pragmatic use of the arts to build the architecture, the neural pathways within brains that their engagement in the arts definitely develops, allowing them to better learn and more deeply learn all of their other content. That’s important but it’s not that, it goes beyond the creativity, the self-expression. Even goes beyond the social emotional pieces. It goes beyond the power of the arts which is so critically important at this time above all other times to heal a broken society, to find and create unity in divisiveness. It goes beyond that even. And here’s what I think it is. Arts in education, especially in public education, where every child is supposed to have their very best shot provided for them is critical because it ultimately makes life worth living. The arts make all the other business we do worth doing. It is critical now and always has been but we really need to move forward that we provide equity of opportunity, equity of access, and make sure that all of our arts opportunities are widely available and represent the demographics in the surrounding community.”

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A Different Way to Say I Love You

February 14, 2021

Maine Voices

This was included in the Maine Sunday Telegram, February 14. It is a powerful story written by Kay Wheeler, a retired music teacher and musician living in Raymond. As Maine arts teachers take a break this week I hope you’re relaxing and taking time to reflect on the amazing work you’re doing during this challenging time. If you need a reminder of why your job is critical perhaps this story will help.

My career was music, playing and teaching violin. I taught at Ashley Hall School for girls (Barbara Bush went there) and the Charleston Academy of Music. I retired to Maine two years ago and now have time to write my memories.

I recently read in my Portland Press Herald that Tony Bennett has had Alzheimer’s for several years but still performs at home. The man in my life said, “How can that be?” And, I said, “Let me tell you about an experience I had approximately 15 years ago.”

While I was still teaching violin at the Charleston Academy of Music, Judith, the mother of one of my students, told me about a violin workshop in the same city where her former college roommate lived. Her former roomie played the violin and so did the woman’s young daughter. She invited my student and Judith and me to come down to Georgia, stay with her family and we would all go to the workshop together. Judith was willing to drive, and it sounded like a wonderful weekend. So we drove to Georgia on Friday.

Judith’s roomie had become a doctor and married a doctor. We arrived at their home later in the day. It was beautiful! The living room had a Steinway grand piano with a violin sitting on top of it.

We all visited for a while and then went to bed early to be well rested for the workshop. The next day, the workshop was very successful. We had a lovely dinner with our hostess and her husband and daughter. The plan was to stay that night and then leave for home the next morning.

After dinner, our hostess invited us to have cocktails with her father and mother, who lived in the little house next door. When her parents arrived, I was pleasantly surprised. Her father, almost 90, was a retired doctor. He was very handsome and well dressed. Same to be said for his lovely wife. They cam in, we were introduced and we all sat down for hors d’oeuvres and a drink.

After some pleasant conversation, our hostess asked her father if he would like to play piano for us. “Certainly,” he said. He got up and sat down at the piano, He lifted his hands and dropped them with power and positivity and played a Chopin polonaise without one hesitation or error. I was amazed and thrilled. He continued to play classical piano pieces by great composers. Then he began to play the “Meditation from Thais” by Jules Massenet. I’ve played that pieces so many times – it is one of my favorites. I asked the hostess if I could play the violin that was on the piano. She said, “Ms. Kay, that is why it is on the piano.”

I walked over to her father and asked if I might play along with him. He was delighted. Well, one singled to another and another and another. We played classical serious music for around 30 minutes. Then we played show tunes by ear. Then he looked at me and nodded and he switched to hymns. After another 30 minutes of hymns, we finished with “The Old Rugged Cross.” He stood up, signaled to me to take his hand and we bowed together. It was so enjoyable.

Then he walked over to his daughter while calling her name. He thanked her for a lovely evening, hugged her and told her he loved her. Then he said, “Come on, Mother, time for us oldies to retire to our abode.” He smiled, said, “Thank you” again to me, and they left.

As I turned to sit down and finish my drink, his daughter came over to me. She had tears in heroes, and some running down her cheeks. She took my hand and held it as she said, “Thank you so much for the concert. My father has Alzheimer’s and hasn’t known who I am for at least fiver years. But when he plays the piano, he always remembers me and hugs me and tells me he loves me.”

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School Emergency Relief Fund

February 6, 2021

Applications being accepted by schools

This blog post provides information on obtaining federal funding that has come Maine’s way. These funds are earmarked as “relief funds” to help support educational programs because of the pandemic. The Maine Arts Commission encourages you to make a list of materials, supplies, instruments, tools, software and whatever else you have needed or still need during the pandemic. We all know that your programs have been impacted greatly. Please make a list and an appointment to see your administrator so your needs can go into the school/district application.

From the Maine Department of Education

We are pleased to share an exciting update with our partners in education regarding the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER II) funds. Maine has received $183,138,601 for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER II) through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act. The ESSER II application is now available in Maine’s Consolidated Federal Grant portal. Completed applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis beginning Tuesday, February 2, 2021.  

The current ESSER FAQs from the U.S. Department of Education are available here and here. As a reminder, CRRSA also provides support for non-public schools through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER II) funds.

Earlier this week the U.S. Department of released the Emergency Assistance for Non-Public Schools (EANS) webpage available here. Maine has been allocated $12,751,099 for eligible non-public schools based on the State’s relative number of children aged 5 through 17 at or below 185 percent of poverty who are enrolled in non-public schools. More information regarding the EANS application is forthcoming. 

Please contact Karen Kusiak at Karen.Kusiak@maine.gov with any questions.  

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Maine Arts Commission Funding

January 28, 2021

Deadlines for grant applications

The Maine Arts Commission has a variety of funding opportunities for educators and artists. Below are the dates that you may be interested in so please check out the information at THIS LINK to see all the grant descriptions or click on one of the grant titles below. You will need to establish an account if you don’t already have one in order to view the application and detailed information. The required match for all grants in the FY22 grant cycle is waived.

DEADLINES

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MALI Becomes MAEPL

December 8, 2020

Teacher Network Rebrands its Commitment to Arts Education

The Teacher Leader network known as MALI, or Maine Arts Leadership Initiative, has taken on the new mantle of MAEPL, Maine Arts Education Partners in Leadership, with the revised mission to develop and promote high quality arts education for all.” Leaders of MAEPL say the new name and mission statement better encapsulates what this community of arts educators has been and will continue to be. The process evolved as a result of bringing in new staff and expanding the organization’s leadership structure. Jake Sturtevant, music educator at Falmouth High School, longtime MALI member and Chair of the MAEPL Vision Team, said, “We are still committed to partnering with each other to be resilient, compassionate, and curious Teacher Leaders for our students and in our communities.”

2014 Summer MALI Institute

MALI, now MAEPL, a program of the Maine Arts Commission, is a unique teacher leader development program specifically for preK-12 visual and performing arts (VPA) educators from across the state, one of the very few in the country.  Led by active educators, they focus on the emerging needs of the field.  Components of the year-long program for both classroom teachers and teaching artists in all arts disciplines include community-building, an annual Individualized Professional Development Plan, structured mutual accountability, and leadership development. Over 120 Maine VPA teachers, as well as teaching artists, have participated in the last ten years.  

Even before the pandemic, teachers of the arts often felt isolated.  School district-level trainings are often geared towards general or “core” subject teachers.  “I’m only one of two in my district teaching elementary music.  We are in our little islands, far from anyone else doing what we do,” said Kate Smith, 2014 York County Teacher of the Year and MAEPL Program Team Leader.  “MALI changed all that.” 

Pamela Kinsey, Lori Spruce, Kate Smith, Pam Chernesky, Julie Richard, Winter Retreat 2020

This past year the group took a deep dive into their own organizational structure, assessing and clarifying their policies and processes. Even through the pandemic, the Leadership Teams met and solicited input from the entire membership, and determined a new name, a refined mission, and a new logo. “We chose the whirling maple seed pod as our new symbol because we felt it reflected the best of what we do – taking new ideas, learning and sharing together, then planting them throughout our school communities,” said Jennie Driscoll, visual art educator at Brunswick High School and Vision Team member. “It’s got our energy.”  

In 2020 they also delivered a virtual Summer Institute to 50 VPA educators, addressing the social and emotional resiliency needed this year. In addition, many members led efforts to support and connect with other teachers quickly adjusting to online instruction, leading virtual seminars through the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Arts Commission.

Group exercise at Winter Retreat, 2020

 “MALI grew a wealth of resources and committed members over the years,” said the current Director of Arts Education for the Maine Arts Commission, Martha Piscuskas, referring to the online Resource Bank and Arts Assessment Resources website, available free to all teachers. “We wanted to build on those strengths.” In addition to the professional development programs, next steps include creating an advisory council, streamlining their web presence, and continued advocacy for the sector. 

The group formed in 2010 to focus on student assessments, an emerging need for visual and performing arts teachers at that time. After learning from other states, a small group of educators led by Argy Nestor, the former Director of Arts Education at the Commission, Rob Westerberg, Choral Director at York High School, and Catherine Ring, former school administrator and art teacher, created the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative. They established the multi-day Summer Institute, sharing a framework and best practices for successful arts assessment in the classroom. “We quickly became the assessment experts in our schools,” said Sturtevant. 

Hope Lord and Adele Drake, MALI Summer Institute 2017

In 2015 the group added “teacher voice” and advocacy to their mission, becoming the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI), again addressing emerging needs of the sector. “I never would have thought to seek out leadership positions, continue my graduate studies, or have presented at conferences without the support and influence of MALI,” said Iva Damon, visual art teacher and Humanities Department Head at Leavitt Area High School.    

For more information about MAEPL, and to learn about how to get involved, contact Director of Arts Education for the Maine Arts Commission, Martha Piscuskas at martha.piscuskas@maine.gov. Arts education resources developed over the years are accessible through the Maine Arts Commission’s website, https://mainearts.maine.gov/pages/programs/maai.

The Maine Arts Commission is a state agency supporting artists, arts organizations, educators, policy makers, and community developers to advance the arts in Maine since 1966.  www.Mainearts.com


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Amazing Educators

June 20, 2020

YOU did it!

CONGRATULATIONS EDUCATORS

…for taking on most likely the biggest challenge in your teaching career and for getting the JOB DONE! As you close the door on another school year I wish you a relaxing summer. As you take time for yourself and reflect on the last months please know I am grateful for the commitment you make to your learners and to ARTS education!

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Happy Retirement!

June 17, 2020

Maine is fortunate to have such marvelous arts educators!

We know that what a teacher offers can have an enormous impact on student development day to day AND over their lifetime. As educators retire at the close of another school year, 2019-2020, I invite you to join me in THANKING them for their years of service and dedication to students across the state.

May your road ahead be filled with many years of good health, love and happiness! Yahooooooo! I’m sure you’ll never forget your last spring of teaching through the COVID pandemic.

The following visual and performing educators have contributed a combined 263+ years to teaching visual and/or performing arts education!

  • CAROL BAKER ROUX, Sanford Jr. High 7/8 Band, 40 years
  • SALLY BEAN, MSAD 58, Mt Abram High School, Visual Arts, ? years
  • BECKY CHRISTIE, Mast Landing School, Freeport, 34 years
  • IVER LOFLING, Skowhegan High School, Visual Arts, ? years
  • MAX MARQUIS, River View Community School, S. Gardiner, MSAD 11, Visual Arts, 32 years
  • HEATHER MACLEOD, Brewer Community School and Brewer High School, General and Choral Music, 30 years
  • CHRISTINE NILES, Colby College, Theater Department, Visual Arts, ? years
  • NANCY ROWE, Camden Hills High School, Instrumental Music, 40 years
  • LUCY GRACE SARGEANT, Sanford High School, Visual Arts, 48 years
  • SUSAN CYR, Dike-Newell and Phippsburg Elementary Schools, Music, 39 years

If you  know of a teacher who is not on this list please be sure and email me at meartsed@gmail.com with the information and I’d be glad to add them. Thanks!

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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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Ah-ha Moments

June 2, 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. Today’s and the next three blog days posts will include the responses. Please don’t hesitate to share your answers to the 4 questions. Today’s post includes answers to the first question. 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?

AH-HA MOMENTS

  • I am heartened to find that both kids and parents seem to see art class as an important part of their education. I’ve seen great response in student work, parent questions, teacher consideration, when it comes to the projects that I’ve provided remotely. I’ve heard from parents who do not show up for P/T Conferences (ever). The Administrative Assistant at our school expressed that her 2nd grade daughter would not work on her art homework with her. The second grader said, “Mom,  I need Mrs. Beaulier! You don’t even know who Pablo Tabasco is!!!”  We had a private ZOOM in response to that. ~SUE BEAULIER
  • Connecting with the families in our school in new and authentic ways. A deeper understanding for the work we are all doing on both sides has strengthened the teaching and learning opportunities. Building relationships has happened through purpose and we have had more time and direct application for us to do this work. ~LINDSAY PINCHBECK
  • The “ah-hah” moment is realizing the content needs to be about something that ties itself to students, something that gives them ownership, not just a set of criteria to follow. ~CHARLIE JOHNSON
  • Students have been paying more attention to their assignments than what I anticipated. They are really getting on board! ~CARMEL COLLINS
  • I sent a hand-written card to every homeroom student in my Advisory the first day of vacation so they knew I was thinking of them. I wanted them to take a much-needed break from their devices and the card allowed that friendly reminder to occur. ~KRIS BISSON
  • Realizing that the content of what I am teaching is not as important as the connection with students. At school we are so curriculum-driven and as a music teacher, I’m always preparing for that next concert looming ahead. Now, thanks to remote learning, I realize that my students look forward to simply hearing from me…receiving my silly frog video taken along my daily walk, sharing my boomwhacker videos of pop tunes, or asking one of them about a new puppy. It’s all about sharing and realizing that we are all in this together, young and old... ~JENNI NULL
  • I would say the greatest success was the immediate networking between music teachers from across Maine and beyond. What could have been tremendously overwhelming alone became easier through sharing resources and experiences.  Teachers built trust through shared vulnerabilities. Everyone was building the plane while flying it. I was incredibly proud of my profession and the way we rose together to meet the needs of our students, all of our students. ~KATE SMITH
  • Having a parent reach out after “sitting in” on a class to thank all teachers for what we do – in her words – “These past few weeks have definitely opened my eyes to all that you guys have to do. So thank you for that. Teachers are definitely under appreciated and do more than parents know. You guys are my rock stars!” ~SUE BARRE
  • These are not my words but totally ring true! This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon! Our superintendent said this to us on day 1 of distance learning but it took me about 2 weeks to realize what that really meant. For probably the first time in my teaching career I needed to REALLY lower my expectations for what students would accomplish in terms of content and replace that with what I felt was best for them both socially and emotionally. Many kids are really struggling right now and they need relationships with their teachers more than anything. Finding a way to connect and reach as many students as possible is tricky but it needs to be at the center of everything we do in order to try to protect the well-being of our kids. ~JEN ETTER
  • The importance of creativity in teaching all subjects remotely. As teachers we are recreating our curriculum, so that we can deliver instruction remotely. We have had to think creatively to problem solve what means, technology, and resources do we have to teach our students. Many students lack art materials at home, some still have no internet access available to them. However, we are creative teachers and we find ways to connect to our students and inspire them to create art during this stressful time. ~HOPE LORD
  • I have posted a quote by Commissioner Makin above my work station: “Children’s brains are wired for learning.  Learning happens everywhere and doesn’t always require a specific plan of measurable outcome.” This ideology helps me stay focused on the goal of inspiring an art curriculum that is engaging, inspires curiosity and is rooted in the real world. I am so inspired by my children (daughters, ages 3 & 4)and their curiosities and imaginations. I try to harness that sense of wonder to inspire my curriculum. We have to let go of all of the things we are usually required to control; behavior management, rule following, accountability for learning and finishing assignments. For some that is extremely hard to move on from, but if you can you are free to create something really special for children. ~SHANNON WESTPHAL
  • As an observer, I am amazed already at the sheer numbers of resources teachers have put together and are willing to share. Never before have I seen so many businesses reach out to help – from Zoom to media outlets, online courses, apps, state and federal government, non profits and others. We are a world that connects and doesn’t wait for someone to tell us how or when. ~CATHERINE RING
  • The one ah-ha has been the reaffirmation of the importance of the arts to allow people to express their feelings, their joys, their anxieties. My students have used their art as a way to cope with the ‘stay at home order’ and it shows that the Arts goe beyond just an assignment or some standard.  ~JEFFREY ORTH
  • That students want that music connection. ~LINDA MCVETY
  • I joined a few classrooms on zoom and was surprised to see a keyboard sitting behind one of my most difficult students. It was a total surprise and really made me think about my preconceptions of our students. Now I have a new tool to connect with this kiddo-Music! ~ALLIE RIMKUNAS
  • One positive was calling a home without internet to check on an advisee. I talked to a mom for a long time. She was stressed and worried and yet doing an amazing job helping to teach her 5 children. My phone call cheered her up and helped her to realize just how well she was doing in an emergency situation. I will now call and talk to this mother each week because I have a connection with her that I might not have established except through the desire to maintain connection with students and their families. I’ve certainly learned the value of parent teacher relationships. I will never again make an assumption about a parent without truly interacting with a parent in an authentic way. ~GLORIA HEWETT
  • The Joy of Art as Positive Outreach – Adding our art show to the world of tech!!!! Parents (even some that classroom teachers had not had contact with) are responding and replying to the positive outreach from the arts department. We have been working together to gather permission to add students’ work and names online for the new VIRTUAL ART SHOW at two schools! ~LYNDA LEONAS
  • I have always taught by talking to my students face to face, building relationships, giving support and conferencing over their art projects. So now I reluctantly had to learn to use technology to do my job and I was very apprehensive. I have found (ah-ha) it can be effective and even though I  am just learning I can do it and am enjoying it with my students. ~HOLLY LEIGHTON
  • I have been very pleased to see some of my students take ownership of their own learning and embrace this opportunity to direct their own educational experience. For these students, I’ve truly felt like a guide / coach by providing them resources and materials to further fuel their own internal motivation as they choose the areas and skills to explore and develop. In my situation as a band director, I’ve told the students they need to change their mind set from “being a member of the band” to “having the opportunity to develop their own musical ability and interests”. ~BILL BUZZA
  • I have tried to keep my students in a positive mindset by adopting different assignments — I am not trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, we are not in our normal space so I am adjusting my expectations accordingly, which has worked well for me. We are doing things like video choreography, online movement classes, and Zoom interviews with dance professionals. I am actively trying NOT to do the same things I would do if we were meeting in person, I think that creates a sense of disappointment in the kids and for us, this is working well. ~EMMA CAMPBELL
  • Lesson #1 – online never sleeps. ~JEFF BEAUDRY
  • As a music educator, teaching remotely has made me realize, you can’t teach chorus with success unless you are in the same room as your students. When we make corrections, we need to make them as they happen not at a later time. We also desperately need to feel each other in the same room to make the music beautiful. A success would be the new ways I have learned how to use a variety of technology tools that I would most likely never have done. ~JANE KIRTON
  • LESS IS MORE. Initially, I had the idea that I needed to recreate school for students to access at home. After a week or two of juggling my “work from home” responsibilities with my new “homeschool Mom” responsibilities, I got a glimpse into what some schools are really asking of their families. It’s been very overwhelming at times, and so I have been able to change MY expectations and activities to help ease the burden for my students and their families. I have found success in collaborating with my colleagues to create meaningful and creative activities for my students to enjoy at home. ~DORIE TRIPP
  • When schools closed their doors and we were asked to create remote learning opportunities I was intrigued by the possibilities albeit stressed and a little confused by how it would work. I have to say one thing that I have been impressed with, is the capabilities of technology platforms.  I don’t think there is any substitution for the in-person instruction that our educational systems are built on, however technology is constantly improving to give better alternatives when that is not available, like right now. Having done my master’s program completely online, as well as working in several different school systems on different platforms, and using several different types of online programming certainly prepared me for attempting to teach remotely.  At this point in our current situation, I am not getting a lot of participation, however, I feel that I am using due diligence to provide students with many opportunities to develop their understanding and ability to communicate visually.  While we can’t teach in a traditional manner, we can still teach. Where there is a will, there is a way.  It is amazing to see what can be done that would otherwise have been said to be impossible. ~ANTHONY LUFKIN
  • I can still be surprised by my students- in particular those who were historically not as active as I would have hoped and are really doing amazing things in these challenging circumstances. I find myself hollering YES when opening e-mails. This insight will be so helpful in supporting those students in the future.~DANETTE KERRIGAN
  • It was when a student said during a Zoom meeting that she is experimenting even more with art materials.  She said, “You see this?” while pointing up, “It’s a butterfly mobile that I made with dental floss, sticks and colored paper.”  She shared it with the class with no fear at all. Students are sharing stories and ideas about making art I would have never known about otherwise. They are opening my eyes about what is possible right at home. ~LEAH OLSON
  • I made a rap (my least favorite genre of music ironically) video for my students and staff the day before our online learning started in order to encourage everyone and I know it lifted the spirits of all who viewed it.  The “ah ha” was that if we can put aside our uncomfortableness for others, the reward is priceless (I have attached the link below for you)  I will be sending out another one this Sunday providing them some encouragement for the last 7 weeks) ~DIANNE FENLASON
  • It has been so amazing to see that FINALLY Arts educators are getting included in technology training. I have had the privilege of being part of VPLTs (Virtual PLTs) with Arts educators and providing training for hundreds of educators in my District. ~BARB VINAL
  • As an elementary specialist is that it is challenging to make connections with students remotely. Recently I started joining zooms that the classroom teachers or case managers have. This has been a nice way to make a connection with the kids. As far as getting activities out to them we have been doing this through the packets that are sent home and through a facebook page that I set up. ~SAMANTHA ARMSTRONG
  • I have really been able to dig my teeth into some of the technology that I never seem to have time to really explore. I feel much more confident using various applications. I am also extremely lucky to have two musical children who are willing to help me. We’ve been able to put out material that I think is appropriate and user friendly for my students and their families. ~ANDREA WOLLSTADT
  • The personal relationships between teacher-teacher, teacher-student, and teacher-parent are the most important aspects of effective teaching. Regardless of the content I am trying to still teach my students, it’s the relationships and reaching out to others that really matters the most right now. In this new world of teaching virtually, often just a personal email, a phone call, or hosting a Zoom Meeting just to check in matters far more in the grand scheme of things than whether an assignment was handed in on time. ~IVA DAMON
  • Technology and online resources are pretty amazing if you have the time to dive into it and actually figure out how to best utilize it all for your own situation. This is SO happening for me right now, and it will positively impact me and my work for years to come. ~ROB WESTERBERG
  • I was struck by how much I miss making art with my students. This is something that I just took for granted in the whirlwind of the school day. ~ LISA INGRAHAM
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