Posts Tagged ‘Maine education’

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Tally-ho!

September 7, 2017

Opening day

My best teaching colleague always called the teacher first day of administration speeches the “Tally-ho” speech. Depending on the topic, it was more times than not, predictable. The first day for teachers in Charlottesville this year was 2 days after the events that took place. Needless to say this unpredictable event turned the day’s plan upside down and the superintendent asked herself: “How could we possibly help our teachers process these events, so that they in turn could help our students?

The superintendent, Rosa Atkins, had worked with her leadership team during the summer on a plan to roll out the district’s strategic plan. She knew that they had to completely re-think the plan to acknowledge and and address the immediate needs.

“We needed to take time to acknowledge the trauma that we and our students had experienced. In addition to grieving, could we possibly hope for a little healing and inspiration to guide us into the new year?”

When I read this in the article that Rosa wrote and was published in Education Week Teacher, August 23, called Charlottesville Schools Superintendent: ‘We Will Need to Lean on One Another’In Charlotteville, led by Superintendent Atkins, included a clear message reflecting on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. words: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” It was the teachers and schools that “shine the illuminating light of learning, the warm light of relationships, the beautiful light of creativity and the arts, the clarifying light of truth and fact, and the reflective light of introspection.” Every member of the staff member, 800 of them, was given a glow stick and formed three hearts out of the glow sticks and sang “Lean on Me”. The three hearts represented the three who lost their lives due to the rally.

One music teacher wrote on Facebook, “Today our whole city schools’ faculty came together to kick off the year. And do you know what we did? We sang. We need each other’s voices. All of them. This is why I do what I do.”

Of course, I thought about the power of the arts and how they often bring people together. And, I found myself wondering which school districts in Maine were addressing this topic head on? I wondered how many of the first teacher days agendas included or acknowledged the topic? I wondered how many ‘welcome back to school letters’ sent from superintendents and principals acknowledged the issue? I wondered how many educators see our role and responsibility?

I learned about the letter that the superintendent in Portland Public Schools sent to the staff and the resources that were put together to help guide the role and responsibility we all have as educators. No, it wasn’t the predictable letter or message but it was the right one. I applaud superintendent Xavier Botana and the Portland school district for taking a stand and providing support for the district staff. Perhaps Superintendent Botana’s background influences his lens. He came to the United States as a Cuban refugee who didn’t speak English. His experiences are similar to those of many children in the district. Inspired by his work in Portland’s changing community, he says, “Education can transform lives in this land of opportunity.”

Tomorrow I will post the resources that will be useful to educational staffs – in and out of schools – across the state and beyond. If you have resources please share them with me at argy.nestor@maine.gov so I can pass them on to others. We can all use a little guidance on the topic.

Tally-ho!

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ECET2 Conference

August 11, 2017

Teacher leaders from across the state

Yesterday and today educators from across the state are convening on Colby College campus for the summer ECET2 conference. What does ECET stand for? I’m glad you were wondering. Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching in Maine. This is the third summer that the convening has taken place. The sessions are provided by teachers and by all reports all outstanding. I am reminded of the great work going on in classrooms across Maine and how fortunate learners are. Since most of my contact is with visual and performing arts teachers, it is great to be with teachers of all subjects and grade levels. And, you betcha, I am taking time to talk about arts education and the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI). Leadership is woven throughout the conference. It is great to be here with one of MALI’s new Teacher Leaders and the Piscataquis County Teacher of the Year from SeDoMoCha Elementary School, Kaitlin Young.

Yesterday started with a “Cultivating the Calling” session presented by Matt Drewette-Card from AOS #94. Followed by speed dating where participants had the chance to meet with 4 different people representing educational organizations. It was great fun to share! We headed to colleague circles over lunch where we got to the dreams and concerns in small groups. After lunch we had the opportunity to select from the following breakout sessions.

  • Teach to Lead – watch for an opportunity coming in the near future to attend an event in Maine
  • Time for Change: A 3-Step Process to Becoming a Better Teacher-Leader
  • Safe Environments and Honest Conversations
  • Unlocking Never-Before-Seen Doors for Kids
  • Professional Development BY the teachers and FOR the teachers
  • Creating Opportunities for All Students
  • Today’s Literacy Community: Reaching Beyond Classroom Walls

Today we will hear two more “Cultivating the Calling” provided by Tracie Travers and Brittany Ray. I’m really looking forward to them and the line up of sessions promises to be just as interesting and filled with learning as yesterday’s. If you are interested in learning more please CLICK HERE to see not only the sessions and resources but to read about ECET2 and the organizations that support and are partner.

Congratulations to the planning committee for a great job in planning the learning opportunity!

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MALI Summer Institute: Day 2

August 4, 2017

Wowzer!

Kate Cook Whitt

Day 2 kicked off with an amazing STEAM presentation from Kate Cook-Whitt. The opening was titled This is your Brain on Art: Neuroscience and the Arts  – “Examining the World Through Different Lenses: Art and Science”. Kate is an Assistant Professor of Education at the Center for Innovation in Education (CIE) at Thomas College. Participants agreed that Kate’s presentation was outstanding!

Teacher Leaders participated in several great mini-sessions, some led by teacher leaders and teaching artists leaders themselves including:

  • Nancy Frolich, Social Justice mini-lesson

    Social Justice and the Power of the Arts with Nancy Frohlich from Leaps of Imagination

  • 7 Strategies of Assessment with Jeff Beaudry from USM and visual art teacher leaders Holly Leighton and Samantha Armstrong

  • National Board Certification with visual art teacher leader Danette Kerrigan

  • Connecting the STUDIO HABITS of MIND to the NATIONAL STANDARDS in the Visual Arts classroom with visual art teacher leader Jane Snider

  • Things Into Poetry session with Brian Evans-Jones

    Things Into Poetry with poet teaching artist leader Brian Evans-Jones

In addition Bronwyn Sale and John Morris provided a session called Teaching for Creativity. The afternoon brought all three strands together (teaching artist leaders, new PK-12 teacher leaders and returning PK-12 teacher leaders) for a session with teaching artist leader and potter Tim Christensen. We engaged with a small medallion of clay using the process Tim is so in tune with: sgraffito.

The rest of the afternoon was spent on leadership, advocacy, and putting it into action on the follow up plans for the next year. Strand 1, the Teaching Artist Leaders met with Jeff Poulin, electronically, from the Americans for the Arts.

Day turned into night and educators gathered around the Thomas College fire pit for drumming and a chance for Tim to fire the clay pieces created earlier in the day in the propane fire pit. This provided a wonderful opportunity to connect with colleagues from across the state. What a great way to end an outstanding day!

Strand 1 with Jeff Poulin, Americans for the Arts. Kate Smith, Design Team member, holds the computer during the question and answer period

Jennie Driscoll, Elise Bothel visual art teacher leaders

Jen Etter, music teacher leader

New teacher leaders David Coffey – music and Amy Donovan-Nucci – visual art

Tim Christensen firing the clay pieces

Fun around the fire pit!

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MCL National Summit

April 1, 2017

July 16-18, 2017 – Portland

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Empowering the Customized Learning Community

July 16 – 18, Holiday Inn, Portland, Maine

Register Here
inevitable-too-207x300Please join us as educators from across the country meet to learn, share, and problem solve how they are transforming their learning communities to provide the “Ideal Learning Experience” for all learners.  Based on the vision described in “Inevitable: Mass Customized Learning: Learning in the Age of Empowerment” written by Chuck Schwahn and Bea McGarvey, educators in our National Alliance are identifying the school structures that need to change in order to customize the learning experience for all learners.

Our National Summit will highlight the work of learners, facilitators and leaders who have been designing and transforming their learning communities. We will engage and leverage the experiences of our summit participants in a variety of learning experiences that will help support all levels of implementation. Summit participants will expand their knowledge, strategies, processes, resources, tools and professional network.

Our 2+ days will include:

  • Sunday Evening Dinner & Opening Session
  • Messages from Chuck Schwahn & Bea McGarvey
  • “Voices of Learners” Empowerment Sessions presented by Young Learners
  • 30+ Empowerment & Vendor Sessions including “Make & Take Sessions”
  • General Session Facilitated Conversations
  • A “Reflection Cafe”
  • Monday Evening Lobster Bake

Registration Fees

inevitable-too-203x300Register here!

Early Bird Special: $350/person or $325/person for teams of 3 or more

After May 20th: $375/person or $350/person for teams of 3 or more

The registration fee includes dinner on Sunday night, continental breakfast, luncheon, and afternoon refreshments on Monday and Tuesday as well as a Lobster Bake on Monday evening. Schools and other education organizations are encouraged to bring teams and make their participation a collaborative experience.

Lodging

A limited number of rooms are being held at the Holiday Inn by the Bay (http://www.innbythebay.com/), until June 16, 2017

Call 1-800-345-5050 or 1-207-775-2311 and mention the MCL Summit to get the summit rate. Room rates are: $210 for single or double occupancy (standard room with 2 double beds), $159 for single or double occupancy (Standard King Size Bed), $179 for Executive edition room (King or Double/Double).  Maine has a hotel tax of 9%.

Parking

All overnight rooms will be subject to a nightly fee of $10 if parking in the hotel garage area. Those traveling in for the summit must park in the multi-level garage beside the hotel and will be charged a discounted $5 daily parking fee.

Lobster Bake

(For the first 300 registered) Our Lobster Bake includes a ferry ride around Casco Bay and to Peak’s Island. Choice of Lobster (1 1/4 lbs), Grilled Sirloin Steak, Grilled Chicken, or Vegetarian (Stuffed Shells), steamed clams, drawn butter, clam broth, corn on the cob, coleslaw, boiled potato, rolls, coffee, tea, and fresh Maine blueberry cake. The Vegetarian meal includes a fresh garden salad, corn on the cob, coleslaw, boiled potato, and roll. Bar service is not included in your registration but will be offered on the island. Departure from the ferry terminal will be at 5:30 and will return around  9 p.m. (Please arrive at the ferry terminal by 5 p.m.)

If you have a family member or friend who will join you at the Lobster Bake, you must purchase their ticket when you register for the summit.

Registration Contact: Linda Laughlin lindaflaughlin@gmail.com

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ECET2 Conference

August 9, 2016

Today and tomorrow at Colby

Kate and Sophie

Starting off the Elevating & Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers! ECET2ME conference at Colby College was Sophie Towle, a 2016 Marshwood High School graduate. Sophie is a singer songwriter from South Berwick and a former student of music educator Kate Smith who taught her at Central School in South Berwick. Her third CD of original songs “An Ocean Away” will be released later this month. Sophie gives guitar lessons, plays tennis and likes to hike. She will attend Wesleyan University in Connecticut this fall and will pursue her interests in government and graphic design. If you are interested check out http://www.sophietowlemusic.com/.

The day was filled with positive energy and only got better as it progressed. Starting off the morning was the 2015 national teacher of the year Shanna Peeples from Texas who provided inspirational words. Shanna encouraged educators to tell their stories – “stories shape how people see us.”

Theresa presenting her SLAM! session

Theresa presenting her SLAM! session

Kate and Theresa Cerceo, both members of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI), attended the conference representing MALI. Theresa provided a workshop on SLAM! Student Leaders in the Arts Movement. She created SLAM! one year ago as an outcome of attending the Teach to Lead summit in Washington, D.C. It is a student leadership group who advocates for arts education. Workshop participants were very impressed with the work SLAM! and Theresa have underway. In addition there many other workshops including Creating a Positive Adult Culture, Tweeting to Lead, National Board Certification, Advocating for the Profession, Leading from the Classroom, Leading the Way to Gradeless Classrooms, Differentiating with Students and Adults, and much more

Kate 'talking' Teacher Leadership

Kate ‘talking’ Teacher Leadership

Kate and I were videotaped by a team visiting from the US Department of Education. The subject was ‘teacher leadership’. Watching and listening while Kate was ‘attached to her microphone and under the lights’ my heart swelled with pride as I was reminded of who we are in Maine and the work our arts educators are doing in their role as leaders.

The day was jam packed with opportunities to learn and network with the other 150 educators including 3 other music and 2 visual arts. The funniest part of the day was an evening with the improv group called Teachers’ Lounge Mafia. Four out of the five members are teachers in western Maine; I laughed so much my face hurt. If you ever have the chance to see them or are needing a group for any occasion check them out on facebook. Soooooo funny!

Congratulations to the ECET2 planning committee – a big shout out to the 2015 and 15 Maine Teachers of the Year, Karen MacDonald and Jennifer Dorman for their leadership in providing an outstanding learning opportunity for Maine educators!

Teachers' Room Mafia

Teachers’ Room Mafia

 

 

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Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Pamela Kinsey

March 31, 2015

MAAI Teacher Leader series

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

Sunday best 1Pamela Kinsey serves on the MAAI Leadership Team along with being a Teacher Leader. She teaches music in Easton, Maine where her responsibilities include General Music K-6 (including Recorder), Beginning Band, Elementary Chorus, 7-12 Band, 7-12 Chorus and High School Jazz Choir. Pam has taught Music Appreciation at the High School level as well and she is the Co-Team Leader of the Wellness Team! She has been teaching music in some form since high school and gave private lessons. She has maintained a private ‘studio’ of varying numbers of students ever since. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education (with an instrumental emphasis on Flute) from the School of Music at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. Pam has been teaching in schools since 1984, and in Easton since 1988.

What do you like best about being an music educator?

One of the things that I like best about teaching music is that it gives me an opportunity to share my love of all types of music with new ears. I see students from a young age and watch them grow and mature into wonderful young ladies and gentlemen and amazing young musicians. I can look back at several of my students and see them still actively participating in music! It is very rewarding. I have second-generation students continuing in the musical paths of their parents. I take them to concerts of every type available in a region where that is not necessarily the norm. Seeing their eyes roll at the prospect of going for the first time to the American Folk Festival in Bangor and then seeing their eyes light up at the idea of attending the Folk Festival a second…or third or fourth time….that is what makes me love my job. When students come back and seek me out to tell me how things are going. When students call me on the telephone to chat. When students invite me to their weddings and baby showers because we became friends while we were making music together. Those are all reasons that I teach music. It is a life style, not just a job.

What advice to you have for young teachers?

My advice to teachers and students alike is to take advantage of as many of the opportunities that present themselves to you as possible. You never know when something new will be the thing that hooks your interest and it might just take you places unimagined and amazing!

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

Keys to any successful program? I think that first of all, you must love your art form. I think it is important to be out there, practicing our craft, and letting the students see us in that light. My students know that I play in a Community Band. I bring them on a bus to see the diversity of membership from young to old, all participating together. They know that they are invited to play in the group once they have the ability or the desire! My students know that I play in a Community Orchestra. Again, I bring them on a bus to see an orchestra in action. We don’t have a string program and I like them to see that art form live. They also know that I am involved in music at my church. Again, music is more than my job: it is my vocation, my passion and part of my daily life. Truly, I practice what I teach!

I think it is important to help students to succeed, but equally important to let them know that failure is OKAY! They have to make mistakes with their singing and playing so that they can learn from them and grow as musicians. It makes me sad when I ask students ‘Is it okay to make a mistake in music class or in school?’ and have them answer ‘NO’. I tell them of course it is okay…that is how we learn! If we make a mistake because we are trying, then we know it is there and it is something we can fix.

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

I consider myself an ‘Old Dog’, and ‘new tricks’ come hard to me. Assessment in my classroom has forced me to re-evaluate how I am teaching and connecting with my students…especially the younger ones. We now have clearer reasons for doing what we are doing and the students are taking more ownership. Now when they create, I show them the rubric that tells them exactly what to do for each level of grading. When they try to hand that in, I remind them that they still need the rubric to complete the project. They can view and listen with discerning eyes and ears, because the expectations are clear. That is very powerful.

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

Becoming involved in the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative has given me more confidence in my teaching and in my advocacy skills. Finding my way as a department of one was difficult, since there was no support system that understood what I was trying to accomplish. Now, I am part of a caring, safe and supportive community of Arts professionals, ALL of whom understand what I am trying to accomplish and the struggles that I encounter on a daily basis, since they are very often shared struggles.

What are you most proud of in your career?

In my career, I am most proud of the relationships I have built with students and the hope that they possess an appreciation of music that will stay with them throughout their lives. I am proud of the fact that others see me in leadership roles that I might not have seen myself in. I have built up a rapport with other Arts educators throughout the state and region as a result of these leadership roles. I am proud to be a past chair of the District VII Northern Maine Music Educators Association, the former Secretary of the Maine Music Educators Association and the current President of the Maine Music Educators Association. I am also very proud of the work of MAAI and I am pleased to be a small part of the amazing leadership team and ‘Argy’s Army of Artists’!

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

Sometimes, I think that all of the mandates for standardized expectations get in the way of teaching…and learning….simply for the joy of teaching and learning. There are expectations that our students have the very highest level of achievement, but we are allowed only the very minimum of time in a week to meet these expectations. Of course, funding is an issue in all of education. For me, time to prepare and collaborate with others would be amazing, but again, there isn’t time in the day for this type of group planning in the Arts, especially in a Music Department of one.

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

Hard work and determination are necessary in any job. I think that one thing that I have accomplished is a successful blending of a 7-12 Band. Many years ago, we moved our 7th and 8th graders form the Elementary School, where I had a proper Middle School Band, to the High School and I was told there was no room in the schedule for Middle School Band and the program would now be a combined Band. You can imagine my concern at the idea of mixing students with two years of playing experience with students with five years of playing experience. I feel that the people in the position of making that decision really didn’t understand what they were expecting would just ‘happen’. It was a real struggle, especially at the beginning. Now, however, it is a successful blending of abilities and the Band is pretty darned great in my opinion! On the surface, it was just expected, but I had to be creative and work very hard to make it succeed and not lose students due to frustration by being too difficult or too easy.

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

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have funding like $500,000! I would begin by purchasing instruments, so that every student would have the opportunity to play an instrument, regardless of financial status. New instruments are psychologically better than used. In a rural, depressed area, often cost is the only deterrent to playing an instrument and I hate seeing students have that obstacle in their path. If I could put an instrument in the hands of every child to use for their entire school career, I would love that.

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

When I am 94, and I can only hope to have that longevity, I hope there won’t be any regrets! I know I won’t regret my career choice. I was fortunate enough to have a grandmother that had a very long life. When she was in her 90s she was still making music, playing in three hand bell choirs, and playing the piano. She is my musical success story for my students. If you have music in your blood, you will always have music in your life!

 

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