Posts Tagged ‘teacher leadership’


Back to School Resources

August 30, 2018

Research, ideas, videos, suggestions from others all wrapped in one

A collection of items that will provide some food for thought for you or your students. There’s information, serious and fun, for all of the arts education disciplines. Have fun and don’t be surprised if you learn some things to use starting off the school year with students and/or staff.

  • Cambridge Public Schools in Massachusetts is working to incorporate yoga and mindfulness into classrooms to help both students and teachers manage their stress and regulate their emotions. This is happening district wide and they see that it is making a difference (June 7, 2017) Yoga and Mindfulness
  • Amazing website with a blog, podcasts, video, and a store. Subscribe and have access to many learning materials. Cult of Pedagogy
  • Start off the school year by focusing building relationships, making connections with students, and telling your story. Article in Ed Week (August 15, 2018) Build Student Trust by Sharing Stories on the First Day
  • What do Employers Want in a New Hire? Strong speaking skills, but they have a tough time finding candidates who are good at it, according to a survey released Tuesday. Good oral communication skills got the #1 slot among the 15 job skills that executives and hiring managers identified as very important in new hires. (August 28, 2018) READ EDUCATION WEEK ARTICLE.
  • Setting up your classroom for a new year can be fun or stressful. (August 27, 2018) Teachers, How Did You Set Up Your Classroom This Year?
  • Peter DeWitt keeps a blog called: Finding COMMON Ground and he had a superintendent write a post recently called “Kids Need Play and Recess. Their Mental Health May Depend on It”. He talks about the facts on the topic of anxiety, depression and suicide. (August 1, 2018) READ THE POST.
  • Flight of the Bumblebee performed A Capella style by Team Lachey on the television show Clash of the Choirs.  FLIGHT OF THE BUMBLEBEE
  • Musician and conductor André Rieu performing Amazing Grace live in the Amsterdam Arena with His Johann Strauss Orchestra and a contingent of bagpipes. AMAZING GRACE
  • The Spotlight Dance performed by Jackie and Charlie at the summer workshop of ShagAtlanta 2013. DANCING
  • Lead with an Open HeartAre you a teacher leader or taking on a leadership role in your school/district this year? The author starts with “leadership is hard work”. (August 22, 2018)
  • Do.Reflect.Do Better. That’s the motivation for the author of the blog called Project 180, Monte Syrie. He just posted his first day of school blog post BUILDING BETTER: PROJECT 180, DAY 1. Good food for thought!



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!


Elevator Pitch

August 17, 2016

Teachers as Leaders

Winter retreat Feb14 copy

MALI winter retreat, Farnsworth Art Museum, phase IV

As I reflect on the 6th annual summer arts education institute held last week I marvel that we’ve come so far in a short period of time. The reason is clear – teachers as leaders. The Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) is very proud of the work that the Teacher Leaders having taken on in the last 5 years and continue to do so with gusto!

During the institute teacher leaders were involved in ‘creating a message’ that is often called an ‘elevator speech’ or ‘elevator pitch’. We used this definition of an elevator speech: The art of persuading a listener through a brief speech to spark interest in an idea, project, product or event. You’ll never know when you’ll have the chance to speak to a parent, school board member, administrator or a colleague in school or out of school. Can you articulate why access to a quality visual and performing arts education is essential for all students? I believe that our number one role is to provide this education. Number two role is to advocate so this happens. This is at the heart of being a teacher leader and part of our roles as educators. What do you think?  Please put your thoughts below in the comment section or email me at and let me know! Your thoughts are welcome.

Below is a post that was printed in Education Week – August 5, 2016

A Teacher Leadership Elevator Pitch: And An Invitation to Write Your Own
By John T. McCrann

Have you ever been asked to write an “elevator pitch?” The idea is that you propose your ideas to a thought leader or big wig with whom you happen to be riding an elevator with. Your job: simply describe the crux of your ideas and their value in the time it takes to go down a few floors.

This spring as part of an application for a teacher leadership fellowship/award I wrote the one below directed at my school district’s leader, Chancellor Carmen Fariña.

The idea of an “elevator pitch” feels problematic to me in some ways. As someone who counts reading long novels, engaging in hours-long discussions, and working through complex math problems over several days as some of the most educative moments of my life, I worry that we lose learning opportunities in a world that places emphasis on brevity over depth of thought (feel free to Tweet me if your thoughts on this disagree…just kidding).

That being said, the process of distilling my ideas about teacher leadership into a bit-sized chunk did feel like a beneficial activity for me as a leader. It was useful to be able to read through this as I start to think about the year ahead and where I want to devote my time in terms of teacher leadership activities.

Teachers, what’s the main thing you hope to accomplish in teacher leadership this year? Everyone else, what should teacher leaders be fighting for this year? Share your elevator pitches in the comment section.

Chancellor Farina, I bet at some point you’ve overheard a teacher complaining to another about something coming from the district or administration: “why are “they” doing this to us?”

I am a teacher and teacher leader who doesn’t hear that any more and I want to help make New York City the one place in the country where teachers won’t ever say it. Let’s stop talking about “they” and create a system of “we.”

Students learn best from teachers who can differentiate instruction for all their students, addressing the specific needs of specific students.

A “we” system would give community-based learning experts more influence over policy decisions and a greater ability to innovate on behalf of students. Let’s empower schools to create solutions.

We’ve started this work with the PROSE program, which we should strengthen and extend. Find new ways to incentivize superintendents and principals in distributing decision-making power. Create new avenues for teacher leadership.

Students also learn best when they are given meaningful, supportive, and regular feedback. A “we” system would re-imagine the way we think about assessment and accountability to meet these student needs.

The words assessment and accountability should not invoke abstract systems or number but real student learning evidenced through meaningful work.

The New York Performance Standards Consortium has a proven track record of collecting valid and reliable data with teacher-created performance tasks. As a system, we should learn from this example and expand the use of performance assessment to other schools and grade levels.

At my school, Harvest Collegiate High School, we are proud to be a part of the PROSE program and the Performance Standards Consortium, which you have supported and which are in the vanguard as education reform programs. I am proud to have played a leadership role in these groups.

I would love to work with you to help strengthen these programs and the “we” philosophy that forms their foundation.

To hear others tell it, “they” are incapable of helping our students. Depending on who you ask: they don’t give enough support or they attempt to micro-manage.

We can address this concern by removing “them” from the conversation.

That’s why you, me, my colleagues at my school, our colleagues across districts, we, the educators of New York City, need to lead.


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

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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