Posts Tagged ‘teachers’

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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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Calm

May 31, 2020

Gift

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Funding Opportunities

August 28, 2014

 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

The NCTM is accepting applications from teachers of pre-K-2 mathematics for projects that incorporate music into the elementary school classroom to help young students learn mathematics. For 2015–16, grants of up to $3,000 will be awarded to individual classroom teachers or small groups of teachers collaborating in one grade or across grade levels. Any acquisition of equipment must support the proposed plan but not be the primary focus of the grant. Proposals must address the combining of mathematics and music, planning for improving students’ learning of mathematics, and/or the anticipated impact on students’ achievement. Please click here to read more.

P. Buckley Moss Foundation Accepting Applications For Arts-Integrated Education Programs
The mission of the P. Buckley Moss Foundation for Children’s Education is to promote the integration of the arts into all educational programs, with a special focus on children who learn in different ways. The foundation is accepting grant applications from educators who need financial assistance to maintain or implement an arts education program. Grants of up to $1,000 will be awarded to support new or evolving programs that integrate the arts into educational programming. Although the purpose of the grant program is to assist teachers who wish to establish an effective way of using the arts to teach children who learn differently, proposed projects must serve all children in the classroom, including those with no trouble learning in a general education setting. Please click here to read more.

Teens Teaching Tech
Apply for a grant to hold your own Teens Teaching Tech program in your community. Older adults have gadgets like digital cameras, tablets, mobile phones, and apps that they find challenging to use. The goal of this program is to help senior citizens feel comfortable with ever-evolving technology. The applicant must be part of a school-based club or homeschool community organization in the United States. The $250.00 grants are provided to high school clubs: community service, National Honors Society, and computer clubs. http://bit.ly/TeenTechGrant Deadline: September 15

Laura W. Bush Traveling Fellowship 
The State Department is currently accepting applications to help fund innovative travel around the world by young people who use education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, and/or communication and information to build strong ties among nations. The fellowship is intended for American college students who have not been afforded many opportunities to travel abroad. Through 4 to 6 weeks of travel anywhere in the world, you can have the opportunity to interact with individuals from other nations while promoting the goals of UNESCO! http://bit.ly/statedeptfellowship Deadline: September 22

Captain Planet Foundation Grants 
Captain Planet Foundation will accept small grant requests for amounts between $500 – $2,500.  All proposed activities must be project-based, projects must be performed by youth; and projects must have real environmental outcomes. The Captain Planet Foundation primarily makes grants to U.S.-based schools and organizations with an annual operating budget of less than $3 million.  International requests are also accepted, with preference given to international projects that have U.S.-based partners. Preferential consideration is given to requests who have secured at least 50% matching or in-kind funding for their projects.  http://bit.ly/y1tPpz   Deadline: September 30

Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Grants 
Whatever goals and dreams you have for your school, Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Grant Program can help fulfill them with grants of $2,000 to $5,000. K-12 public schools as well as school parent-teacher groups are eligible. Preference is given to funding requests that have a permanent impact such as facility enhancement (both indoor and outdoor) and landscaping or clean up projects. http://bit.ly/195qDKm  Deadline: October 15

Ben & Jerry’s Foundation Grassroots Organizing for Social Change Program
The Grassroots Organizing for Social Change Program supports non-profit grassroots, constituent-led organizations across the country that are using direct action, grassroots community-organizing strategies to accomplish their goals. Proposals should align with the Foundation’s broad interests in social justice, environmental justice and sustainable food systems. They fund organizations with budgets of $500,000 or less. Grant awards are up to $20,000 for a one-year period.  http://bit.ly/1pQmD6A                      Deadline: October 15

NYLC Youth Leadership for Service-Learning Excellence Award
The Youth Leadership for Service-Learning Excellence Award recognizes service-learning programs and projects that demonstrate outstanding youth leadership. This award focuses on projects that show a high level of youth initiative in all areas including identifying an authentic need, planning the service, and putting that plan into action. Teams of young people participating in service-learning projects can apply. http://bit.ly/1rfyhas  Deadline: November 7

NYLC Service-Learning Practitioner Leadership Award
The Service-Learning Practitioner Leadership Award recognizes those who have equipped young people to lead and serve, both through their direct work with youth and by nurturing other practitioners. Nominations are accepted from the general public, and a committee of leaders from the service-learning field will select the winners. http://bit.ly/1rfyhas  Deadline: November 7

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What 4 Teachers Told President Obama Over Lunch

July 17, 2014

Lunch in the Blue Room at the White House

This is the text from Justin Minkel’s blog. He writes two blogs: Teaching for Triumph and Career Teacher.

President Obama sat down this week for lunch at the White House with Education Secretary Arne Duncan and four teachers to talk about education, teaching and school reform. What the teachers said to Obama is explained in the following post by Justin Minkel, the 2007 Arkansas Teacher of the Year, a board member of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year, and a member of the Center for Teaching Quality’s Collaboratory. He writes two blogs, Teaching for Triumph and Career Teacher. Follow him on Twitter:  @JustinMinkel

By Justin Minkel

President Obama has often been described as an eloquent speaker. I learned this week that he is an eloquent listener, too.

The table in the West Wing was set for six: the president, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and four teachers. The hour-long conversation was serious but relaxed. The four of us have each been teaching in high-poverty schools for over a decade, and the president asked us to respond to a few questions that were on his mind.

The president wanted to know: Why had we stayed in our schools? What could he and the secretary do to support teachers in high-need schools? What policies could ensure that students who need the strongest teachers receive them?

This is what we told him:

1. There’s nothing wrong with the kids.

I asked Dwight Davis, an African-American fifth grade teacher born and raised in Washington, D.C., why he has stayed with teaching. He didn’t hesitate: “The kids and the families.”

We told our students’ stories to the president. I talked about Cesar, a second grader who won $10 in a writing contest. When I asked what he planned to do with his winnings, he said, “I’m going to give it to my mom to help her buy food for our family.”

I told the president about Melissa, a second grader who became the only literate person in her family through a home library project and plenty of school-wide support. When we were reading together one day, Melissa told me, “Now when my mom and little sister and I are watching TV, they tell me, ‘Melissa, turn off the TV and read to us,’ so I do.”

Students like Melissa and Cesar, who walk into the classroom with greater challenges than more affluent students, are not the obstacle to attracting skilled teachers to high-poverty schools. They’re the motivation.

2. “Responsibility and delight can co-exist.”
The No Child Left Behind era still taints the system at every level. The creativity, curiosity, and sense of wonder that make students such a joy to teach have been stripped from students’ experience at school, particularly in low-income schools desperate to raise test scores.

In place of literature, science experiments, and engineering design challenges, students in these schools often receive scripted curricula, test prep booklets, and worksheets. Drudgery has been substituted for rigor.

The teachers I know are willing to work harder on behalf of kids like Cesar and Melissa. But they are unwilling to teach in sterile classrooms stripped of literature, the arts, and critical thinking in order to drill students on which one of four bubbles to pick. Given the low quality of many of those tests, it doesn’t matter what bubble they pick. Passing poorly designed tests will not give them greater knowledge, skills to succeed in college and careers, or the opportunity to lead a meaningful life.

The writer Philip Pullman said, “Responsibility and delight can co-exist.” If we want students to excel—and if we want skilled teachers to seek positions in high-poverty schools—we have to restore some of that delight.

3. It’s not about good and bad teachers. It’s about good and bad teaching.

The teachers at my school are dramatically better than we were five or ten years ago. The reason is simple: we’ve worked with our principal to design a culture of collaboration, innovation, and peer observation, with time built into the school day for purposeful professional development to take place.

You never hear teachers say of a student, “She’s a bad learner—we need to get rid of her.” Yet that is often the go-to solution for reformers outside the system when it comes to “bad teachers.”

There are a handful of teachers who can’t or won’t get better—but they are a scant sliver of the profession. If we provide mentoring, collaboration time, and job-embedded professional development, the vast majority of teachers will continue to improve. Most people want to be effective at what they do. That is particularly true of professionals who have chosen to work with children.

I wasn’t good at teaching when I started, and I’m not where I want to be five years from now. I’ve gotten better the same way that everyone—from doctors to pilots to presidents—gets better at their job: through reflection, collaboration, and mentoring.

Yes, we want to recruit talented new teachers who walk in the door with high potential for perseverance, intelligence, and compassion. But we don’t need to swap out all the bad and mediocre teachers for better teachers, anymore than we should swap out our struggling students for more advanced students. We need to build systems that support every teacher willing to put in the work it takes to move from novice to competent, competent to excellent, and beyond.

4. If we want students to innovate, collaborate, and solve real-world problems, we need to make it possible for teachers to do those same things.

The systems we create for teachers have a profound impact on the classrooms we design for students. Teachers have long been seen as consumers of policy, professional development, curriculum, and research, when we should be partners in creating it.

The working conditions that matter most to teachers in Generation X and Y have to do with intangibles like autonomy, collaboration time, and the potential for innovation. Scripted curricula, test prep, and micro-management are anathema to that kind of school culture, and they have a devastating effect on both teacher recruitment and retention.

The hopeful news is that we can create the conditions for excellence in lower-income schools. They exist where I teach: Jones Elementary, a school with 99% poverty and virtually 0 percent teacher turnover.

Every year, we receive students who come in angry, disrespectful, and ashamed of their struggle to learn. These same students become thoughtful scholars and compassionate human beings once their needs are met and their trust in teachers has been earned.

There’s nothing wrong with the kids. There is plenty wrong with the system—but none of it is inevitable. An invitation to classroom teachers from the holder of the highest office in the land won’t cure all that ails that system. But it’s a damn good place to start.

The last thing the president said to us was, “You all make me feel hopeful.” President Obama, you left us hopeful, too.

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Happy Retirement!

June 26, 2013

CONGRATULATIONS and BEST WISHES!

Best Wishes to the following for a wonderful – happy and healthy retirement. Combined they have contributed over 350 years of teaching visual or performing arts to students across the state of Maine. Their expertise and commitment to education is appreciated and I am certain their students will miss them! Never to be taken away from them, or the districts they have served, is the impact they have made on students education in the arts. THANK YOU all! I hope you will continue to be involved in arts education in Maine by providing me (argy.nestor@maine.gov) with an email address to continue to be on the Maine arts education list-serv. May your days be filled with sunshine wherever your journey takes you!

  • Pat Reed – East End Community School, Portland, Visual Art, 27 years
  • Penny Appleby – Leavitt Area High School, Performing Arts, 40 years
  • Dianne Anderson – Traip Academy, Kittery, Visual Art, 20 years
  • Jonathan Smith – Oxford Hills Elementary School, Music, 28 years
  • Nancy Capone – Lake Region School District, Music, 25 years
  • Marta Robbins – James F. Doughty School, Bangor, Visual Art, 28 years
  • Charlene Farnham – Searsport District Middle & High School, Music, 40 years
  • Jack Clifford – RSU 19, Music,
  • Mark Schumpert – RSU 19, Music,
  • David Kent – Windham, Music,
  • Kath Hartley – Bangor High School, Visual Art, 25 years
  • Deborah Jellison – Mary Snow School, Bangor, Visual Art, 27 years
  • Helena Bosse – Dr Lewis Libby School, Milford, Visual Art, 20 years
  • Sybil Wentworth – MSAD 40, Elementary Music, 39 years
  • Marianne Tibbetts – Augusta, Elementary Music, 35 years
  • Ann Stepp – Portland, Music
  • Robert Helstrom – Fort Fairfield, Music, 11 years
  • Sandra Irwin – Tremont School, Visual Art
  • Chris Prickitt – Dexter Schools, SAD46, Music
  • Nancy Curran – South Portland, Music

Please note that some of these teachers started their careers in other schools/districts but the one listed is where they are retiring from this year.

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