Posts Tagged ‘teaching artist leaders’

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Argy’s Journey Continues

June 4, 2019

Walking down memory lane

What a joy it has been during the last few weeks to reflect at the 43 years of my educational pathway. I am fortunate to have selected a career that has provided learning experiences that have expanded my thinking and understanding of how individual learners learn and how we are part of a world of learning connections. I have met and worked (and played) with amazing educators from Maine and around the world.

NEXT STEPS

So, where am I headed next? I have many ideas of what I want to do but I’m going to start by building on the natural next steps.

  • I am working towards creating a fund for Maine arts educators and teaching artists to travel and learn. I’ve had amazing opportunities to travel and every one of them has influenced my creative thinking and doing. I want to support educators who have dreams to travel and learn. I know that when a person returns from traveling that it impacts the learning environment which has the potential to plant seeds and open doors for students. I’m working on the idea with big thinkers and funders. Once I work out the details I will ask you to contribute to the fund. If everyone gives a little we can build the fund more quickly.
  • I will be serving as the director of the middle school at Sweetland School, an arts integrated school in Hope. Lindsay Pinchbeck started the Reggio Emilia inspired school five years ago at the Sweet Tree Arts Center. I have served as an advisor to the school and am excited about the possibilities for the students entering middle school. I will support the teaching team and do some arts integrated teaching as well.
  • In 2016 Lindsay and I traveled to Mpamila Village in Malawi to provide teacher workshops on arts integration. Of course, I gained more than I offered and for the last 3 years continued to support the teachers with 8 other educators providing workshops. My work will go on with Go! Malawi, an organization in Maine that was started by a former student. In July 2020 we will guide the Mpamila teachers to create their own workshops to facilitate at a country wide conference.
  • Malawi led to the innovative work of HundrED and I will continue to share innovative work of the organization. I plan to return to Helsinki this fall for the summit and am especially excited about their Youth Ambassador program.

I will continue to blog through the summer on this blog and communicate with the Maine arts education list-serv about the progress of my work. Please communicate with me at meartsed@gmail.com or through the Maine Arts Education blog below.

WHERE I’VE BEEN 

Like anyone in education we know the paychecks aren’t huge but my life has been rich with opportunities. From the ‘ah-ha’ moments of an individual student’s accomplishment to the excitement of a teacher connecting with other educators and everything in between. When I was teaching every day one thing became clear – hanging out in a middle school art classroom was a continuous learning opportunity and I loved it. My students and colleagues taught me and helped grow my skills and passions as a human being. I received so much than I gave. Being part of an interdisciplinary teaching team where visual art was valued by others as much as I valued it was amazing! When I was recognized in 1995 as the Maine Teacher of the Year I realized how fortunate I was to be honored for such humbling work.

When I left my art room after 30 years it wasn’t easy, teaching was what I knew and loved. But the challenge helped me see more clearly that my mission as an educator was taking a turn. My own son said to me: “Mom, your classroom is just going to get a little larger.” And he was ‘spot on’ (as Rob Westerberg says) about that. Once I fully committed to the work at the state I realized that my “teacher lens” was to guide me. I knew what I needed and wanted as a teacher so I honored that and moved forward collaborating with others to make that happen. Visiting hundreds of arts classrooms in schools across the state was an incredible learning opportunity. The visits led to the 1200 member list-serv and daily communication on this blog.

I AM GRATEFUL

Along the way others continued to collaborate and provide support. I am soooo grateful for the many connections, some of which I mention below.

Carol Trimble

Carol Trimble who was the executive director of Maine Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE) was supportive from day one when I arrived at DOE. Together we brought back the state wide arts education conference and I helped with the first state wide arts education census and other MAAE projects. Carol was and continues to be an incredible mentor with a clear mind who can articulate ideas like no one I know.

Many of you remember David Patterson who sadly passed away from cancer in July 2014 at the age of 50. His wisdom and encouragement taught me to believe in the power of communication to form the community. He pushed, questioned, taught and encouraged me every step of the way. This blog wouldn’t be if it wasn’t for him.

Anne Kofler was the elementary art teacher who taught ‘downstairs’ while I taught middle school ‘upstairs’. She inspired me to go the extra mile and made me a better person in so many ways. She continued to support me, after I left the classroom, to take on the ‘big challenges’ and ‘lean in’. All the while herself, taking on cancer, which eventually took her away in May 2016. Her love for using her travels to inspire her students continues to impact me.

Catherine, myself, Rob

Catherine Ring and Rob Westerberg took a chance when I invited them to travel to NH in the summer of 2010 for the New England Institute on Assessment. I am so grateful that they did – I continue to learn from both of them! Together we created the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) by listening to the needs of the field, reviewing the research, brainstorming and planning. The first MAAI leadership team represented PreK-higher education and helped launch the idea without funding in place. There were tears in my eyes when I heard Jeff Beaudry say “we can sleep on the floor and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches if we have to, there’s no turning back now.” And, launch we did with 18 amazing teacher leaders at Maine College of Art for the 4-day summer institute. At the end of the institute the teacher leaders made it clear that we weren’t moving into Phase 2 without a place for them.

Phase I Teacher Leaders

Since that first summer, the initiative has grown into a strong leadership program, influencing and inspiring, and the shift in assessment practices around the state took hold. When we traveled to Washington, D.C. for the Teach to Lead summit in August 2015 MAAI shifted to the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI). Teachers with high expectations for themselves and a passion for learning – teaching other teachers has been the foundation of the success. Educators willing to share their ideas, use research, build on their knowledge, and support the network has worked well for Maine. Title II funds helped to support the summer institutes, critical friend days, mega conferences, winter retreats, stipends for participants, and statewide conferences over the next several years. The partnerships and associations with the Maine visual and performing arts organizations and institutions has been an enormous part – too many to name all of them. Thank you all!

In 2013 i moved to the Maine Arts Commission and the work (and play) of MALI expanded to include teaching artists and community arts organizations. They have provided a broader view of arts education. We’ve all been enriched by their participation in MALI. Linking arms with the greater community of arts and arts education is another way to support learners of all ages in their educational paths. I am especially grateful to the 108 teacher leaders and teaching artist leaders who continue to do amazing work in arts education and as artists!

There are so many more individuals and organizations to thank but this blog post could go on for pages. The people I mentioned are ‘giants’ and every day I stand on their shoulders and fortunately continue to learn from them!

BEYOND MAINE

Throughout the 13 years at the state I’ve had many opportunities to connect with and learn from others outside of Maine. Presentations and workshops at regional and national conferences about MALI, serving in leadership roles with the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education and the State Arts Agency Arts Education Directors, and serving on the educational council of the Americans for the Arts have provided me ongoing chances to learn from others.

Mpamila teachers in Malawi

My work in Malawi has been amazing. I originally emailed a former student about her work with Go! Malawi and asked if she could use my skill set. From there the idea developed into creating arts integration workshops. I am forever grateful to Lindsay Pinchbeck who agreed to travel to Malawi in 2016. The collaboration that we’ve formed has influenced all parts of my life. She has definitely made me a better teacher, artist, and person. Spending 10 days providing arts integration workshops for the teachers in Mpamila Village opened my eyes to so much about the world. For the last 3 years we continue to support the teacher workshops and have had 8 educators use their expertise in Malawi. In addition we’ve sewn hundreds of dresses and pants for the children in Mpamila School. This work has taken place with friends, family, and colleagues from all over Maine and in other states across the country. I am so grateful to the many who continue to contribute by sewing and contributing to purchase the materials needed.

Malawi led to HundrED when our Malawi project was selected and Lindsay and I were named Ambassadors for the program. We traveled to Helsinki, Finland last November for the HundrED summit and met people from all over the world doing AMAZING work. The network is expanding and I encourage all of you to check out their site and consider applying to be an Innovator, deadline June 30.

CONTINUE – STAY IN TOUCH

I hope that our paths will continue to cross since my work in arts education will continue. Please feel free to reach out using my gmail address at meartsed@gmail.com. I will be blogging throughout the summer and perhaps beyond. Your work in arts education is critical to continue to make the world a better place. Thank you!

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Two Teaching Artists’ Journeys

March 19, 2019

Nicole Cardano and Brian Evans Jones

Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teaching Artists Leaders, summer institute, 2017. Brian is in the back row, third from the left. Nicole is in the front row, first person on the left.

I’m always interested in learning about the needs of teaching artists and how to better support them. I view their role in education as vital. Oftentimes it is the teaching artist who inspires a young person. Providing opportunities for learners in grades PreK through high school that include a teaching artist can be empowering for the learner. I have hope that every young person either becomes an artist or an appreciator of the arts as they continue learning on their life journey.

Those of us who have made arts education a career are so fortunate. We are engaged in the creative process as  individuals and have the chance to help young people develop their artistic ideas as well. When arts educators collaborate with teaching artists it is truly amazing. Both teachers learn but the ones who benefit the most are our students.

Pablo Picasso said: “Every child is born an artist, the problem is how to remain one once we grow up. I think of the artist in each of us as a fragile, beautiful and precious light, a creative spark inside of every person.”

Nicole and Brian at the MALI Summer Institute, 2018

Recently I asked two teaching artists who are leaders in the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) to ponder what has contributed to their success as teaching artists. Brian Evans-Jones and Nicole Cardano joined MALI in 2017 during the summer institute.

Brian Evans-Jones is a poetry and creative writing teacher who moved to southern Maine from the UK. He’s been writing poetry since he was 16. Brian has a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Warwick University.

“Since 2005 I have taught creative writing, which is as important to me as my own writing. I’ve taught all kinds of people, from 4 to 94, in all kinds of venues, and this is the main way I try to spread the appreciation of poetry.”

Nicole Cardano has been teaching Drama and Improvisational Theater in PK-grade 12 schools for eight years. In addition, she teaches adults. Nicole’s studies and practice of improvisational theater connect to the foundational philosophies of Listening, Support, Eye Contact and Respect. The games that she teaches and her directorial mindset work from these foundations. Nicole believes in the process being more valuable than the product. Learning and developing these skills fosters a stronger community, a place of open listening and supportive fun. You can learn more about Nicole’s work on Facebook at Theater Today, Nicole’s non-profit organization.

“This December I worked with elementary and middle school students in preparation for their field trip to see Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol. The students learned about workhouses and the hard labor and often dangerous jobs that children did in London during the 1840’s. We imagined this world through writing and theater exercises.”

NICOLE, HER TEACHING ARTIST JOURNEY

I started out as a Teaching Artist before I knew that this job title even existed. I was teaching drama and improvisational theater at the Summer Festival of the Arts and re-establishing the drama club program at my alma mater, Pemetic Elementary School. One program would lead to the start of another one. In the last nine years the work has grown. I have formed a non-profit, Theater Today, and have been able to spearhead a larger program in partnering with The Grand Theater, in Ellsworth.

Two years ago I learned that The Grand had a program called Performing Arts for Children showing school-aged performances during the school day, but they were not getting the audiences that they hoped for. The opportunity to partner was clear. Several professionals collaborated to create a Community Arts Curriculum out of which grew my role as the Arts Outreach Educator. This is our second year of this outreach collaboration and we are working with the full student body of four schools, three serving grades K-8, and one 9-12 high school. I have worked with 1,311 students leading theater integration workshops in their classrooms since September of 2017 in just this partnership alone (not including the additional programs I still lead). After meeting with classroom teachers, I design improvisational theater workshops that provide connections between the classroom curriculum and the live theater field trips at The Grand.

I grew up locally on Mount Desert Island in Maine. I got my first taste of theater in school. This made me aware that I wanted to be able to sing better, as I could not really carry a tune. As luck would have it there was an outstanding vocal teacher in our town. Carol Cramer Drummond was an accomplished opera singer and became my performance mother. Carol taught me confidence through song and showed me another world. I struggled to learn in school in the format I was expected. My mother too had her own history of challenges in school. I am now raising my daughter, also as a single parent, and I find myself advocating for her experiential learning needs.

Theater was the only subject I could think to study as I went on to Saint Michael’s College in Vermont. Both of my parents supported this decision. I graduated cum laude with a departmental award of honors and minored in Spanish as an extension of my year abroad in Mexico. My senior year of college one of my theater professors was intrigued with the book “Truth in Comedy; the Manual of Improvisation” from the training and performing center IO (formerly Improv Olympic) in Chicago, IL. IO teaches long form improvisation, where you perform a full show based off of one audience suggestion. Our professor formed an improv troupe and we studied this book. I graduated college in May of 2001 and went home to work a summer job and await a New England Theater festival that I had been selected to compete in. I had plans to go to New York City to follow a job lead. That September our nation experienced 9-11. My understanding of the world as I knew it had changed. The job did not pan out. Going to Chicago to study improv felt like the most sensible and sane endeavour. I competed at the festival in January and flew out to take a level one class at IO. I stayed for the full year and completed the improvisational program. Chicago became my home. Improv was the language that I spoke. I continued to study, perform and work for ten years in this city.

I moved back home to Maine for family reasons. I was raising my three year old daughter and my father had gone through stage four bladder cancer due to his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. Time moved forward and my daughter entered school. She was also displaying learning challenges and was not showing the results that our schools wanted. I served for a full term as the chair member of our local school to support education and to better understand it. I really enjoyed being a part of this team. My term ended and I had to decide where I could make a greater impact. My programs were growing and it is a conflict of interest to be on a school board and working in the schools. I continued to develop the work that I saw a need for and believe in. I formed Theater Today to continue this mission. Theater is a tool that helps to communicate and explore topics of interest. This has been true on my journey through life. The practice of theater is a social, emotional and educational tool for all. I embrace process more so than product.

I design the curriculum for the theater integration workshops as the Arts Outreach Educator with The Grand. In our first outreach workshop I was working with 8th graders. The show that they were scheduled to see was “Frankenstein”. The students were studying gothic romantic writing. I taught them about the significance of Mary Shelley and how she wrote Frankenstein, the first sci-fi novel, based on the real modern science of the early 1800’s. The science teachers invited me to speak on this in their classroom, and so I did. In these workshops we highlighted that we are in the middle of history. Through the use of improvisational theater we “built” Victor Frankenstein’s laboratory and acted out scenes on what could go wrong with today’s modern science….

Next I worked with high school juniors and seniors in preparation for seeing Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town”. With the practice of theater we explored the American Dream and enhanced public speaking skills.

This December I worked with elementary and middle school students in preparation for their field trip to see Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol. The students learned about workhouses and the hard labor and often dangerous jobs that children did in London during the 1840’s. We imagined this world through writing and theater exercises. We explored Dickens mission of the important role of education in the fight against poverty.

The curriculum areas of integrated study have spanned grades K-12.

In the growth of the outreach program with The Grand I see that there could be more partnerships with other arts organizations in an effort to expand the community of learning. For example, art exhibits could have in-classroom workshops with visual artists in connection to gallery showings. The possibilities are endless. Partnering teaching artists with directors of arts organizations has the potential to create a lot more routine work for arts integration in our schools and blurring the line between classroom and community, thus creating more experiential learning opportunities. Many students, and adults, have not been exposed to all that their town or neighboring towns have to offer. Arts outreach expands the exposure to life that any one person has.

The programs with The Grand and Theater Today are primarily supported by grants and scholarships. We do hope to expand the sponsorship opportunities for this programming.

BRIAN, HIS TEACHING ARTIST JOURNEY

Path 1:

January 2005:  I am in the last year of my undergraduate degree in Creative Writing at Warwick University, UK. Not sure what to do after graduating, I go to see my course director and ask him, “How can I teach creative writing?” He tells me I should go see the professor who runs the university’s creative writing summer school for students aged 11-16. He gives me a job. I work on the summer school for the next 4 years, starting as an assistant for a couple of days, and ending up as a full teacher, staying for two weeks.

April 2006:  I am training as an English teacher in a vocational high school in Manchester, England. I hate it. The school asks for volunteers (unpaid) to run Enrichment workshops. Starved of creative writing teaching, I run one on story writing. 8 students attend.

June 2006:  I am interviewing for a full-time job as English teacher at another high school in England. The principal offers me the post. I say I’ll take it provided I can teach an hour’s creative writing a week, pointing to my experience on the Warwick summer schools and at my previous high school. He says yes.

January 2010:  My creative writing group at the high school has had enrolments of 12 students, 4 students, 18 students, and 23 students. I have organized annual competitions in poetry and fiction, getting the principal and vice principals involved in the judging. I have published chapbooks of the students’ work. In January of 2010, the head of Creative Writing at the local college (Winchester Uni) agrees to judge a fiction competition, teach a lesson to my groups, and give them talk about taking creative writing at college.

December 2010:  I have quit my job at the high school. I contact the head of Creative Writing at Winchester Uni to ask for work, and he asks me to teach an undergraduate course. I teach at Winchester Uni until I leave England in 2014, eventually increasing my teaching to 6 courses per year.

November 2011:  One of my colleagues at Winchester Uni starts an organization called the Hampshire Writers Society. I attend the first meetings to support her initiative. She tells me about a competition to become Hampshire Poet Laureate in 2012 and encourages me to enter. I enter it.

January 2012:  I am named Hampshire Poet Laureate. Over the next year, I am paid to write 4 poems and to run workshops in prisons and homeless hostels. The Poet Laureate also promotes my work as a teaching artist to schools throughout Hampshire. I set up an online project (Writing Hampshire) that encourages people to write poems about their favorite places in the region and submit them for web publication.

2012-13:  Approximately 30 schools contact me to ask me to run poetry workshops. About half of these want me to help students write poems for the Writing Hampshire project. Writers’ groups, arts centers, and community organizations also ask me to work for them. Combining my work as a college professor and teaching artist, I am teaching creative writing full-time.

Path 2:

June 2006:  I am completing my training as a high school English teacher. One of the requirements is to join relevant professional associations. I find an organization I’ve not heard of before called the National Association of Writers in Education. I don’t have much money, but I decide to join it.

July 2008:  All NAWE members receive a letter from the Open University. The OU is expanding its creative writing courses and wants new teachers. NAWE members are encourage to apply. I do, and I am given a course to teach.

June 2010:  After two years teaching my OU course, my manager contacts me. They have a vacancy at short notice, and would like me to take it. The combined income gives me enough money to quit my unhappy high school job and go freelance, albeit with a part-time income, but with more time to write.

December 2010:  I contact my local arts center. Based on my experience teaching for the OU, they hire me to run poetry and fiction workshops. By the time I leave England in 2014, I have run 30 workshops and classes fort them, for children and adults.

April 2013:  The manager of the Jane Austen House in Hampshire, England, attends one of my poetry workshops at the arts center. She hires me to run a poetry workshop at the Jane Austen House.

August 2014: I have moved to Maine with my family. We go to a children’s art event at the Jewett House in South Berwick. I get talking to the manager, and tell her about my work at the Jane Austen House. She hires me to run a writers group at the Jewett House and also some one-off creative writing workshops.

November 2015: With some others, I give a presentation at the New England Museums Association Conference on my work at the Jane Austen House and the Jewett House. Soon after the Conference, I am hired by two other historic buildings to run workshops for them.

May 2015:  I am at the end of my first year in grad school at UNH and looking for ways to fill the summer. I offer some free mentoring to a young writer who has come to my writers’ group at the Jewett House. Her mother is grateful, and invites me to go with them to an event called Big Night run by something called the Telling Room in Portland. I go, and I am hugely impressed by the Telling Room’s work with school students. I ask to train as a Telling Room Teaching Artist.

2016-2018:  I work on multiple residencies for the Telling Room, working with 7 schools and leading several residencies.

Path 3:

April 2016:  I am at the end of time in grad school at UNH and wondering about starting a creative writing nonprofit. I hear about a funding workshop run by the Arts Council of NH. I go to it and meet the woman in charge of Arts funding. We meet again later; she tells me about the NH Teaching Artist roster. I apply to the roster and am accepted.

May 2016:  I look for other rosters to apply to, and discover Maine has one. I apply, am accepted, and am invited to a Teaching Artists Training Day.

Brian conducting Poetry Out Loud workshop at Hermon High School

August 2016: At the Training Day. I meet Argy Nestor, who talks to me about Poetry Out Loud. I have experience of the British equivalent. Argy asks if I could do some workshops for POL in Maine. I say yes! I also meet Kate Smith, music teacher at my local elementary school. She tells me about our local Education Foundation, which funds projects in our district. She encourages me to apply for a grant to work with Central School in South Berwick. The grant is funded.

November 2016 and 2017: Argy sends me hundreds of miles to the parts of Maine that are farthest away from my home in South Berwick, bringing Poetry Out Loud wokshops to rural schools and broadening my knowledge of my adopted home state at the same time.

March 2017: My 2-week poetry residency with second grade at Central School in South Berwick takes place. 80 children all write several poems, redraft one to go in a chapbook, and share their learning with their parents.

Brian and Kris presenting, MALI Mega, March 2018

August 2017: Argy invites me to apply to the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI). I attend as a Teaching Artist Leader. Kris Bisson, Chorus teacher at Marshwood Middle School, attends my poetry workshop. She asks me to be involved in a composition project with her 7th and 8th grade chorus groups, and writes a grant to the Marshwood Education Foundation.  I also meet Tim Christensen, potter and Teaching Artist extraordinaire; Nicole Cardano, improv artist; and Lindsay Pinchbeck, teacher of the integrated arts school Sweet Tree Arts.

Fall 2017:  I run my part of Kris’s chorus project. I meet the students for 6 sessions and help them write lyrics based on a local landmark bridge that is the focus of a community renewal project.

Tim Christensen, Brian, Lindsay Pinchbeck at Sweetland School

January and October 2018: Lindsay Pinchbeck invites me to Sweet Tree Arts to run collaborative residencies, first in partnership with Tim Christensen and later with Nicole Cardano.

2018:  The Arts Council of NH send me to schools throughout the Seacoast region of NH to run Poetry Out Loud workshops.

2018:  Kris Bisson and I present our collaborative project at MALI and at the MAMLE conference.

November 2018:  Argy asks me to make some Poetry Out Loud videos to be hosted on the Maine Arts Commission website. I work with student POL competitors and the MAC’s Ryan Leighton to plan and record the videos.

December 2018:  Kris’s chorus perform their composition piece at the State House in Augusta. I am privileged to attend.

This is not a complete picture of what I have done, but I hope it gives an idea of how my work as a Teaching Artist started, expanded, and changed. What I want to show is that I never planned to do this: every new thing emerged and developed from other things I did before, generally not knowing what they were going to lead to. I don’t claim that this is an ideal path: I still have not gotten back to being a full-time teacher of creative writing as I was in 2014, before I left Britain; and even then my income was barely enough to support a new family. But it has been a fun ride.

If I have advice for new teaching artists, it would be:

·      Find things to do that are the right things to do for you, however small at first.

·      Look for places to meet good people: people on the same wavelength as you.

·      Be as creative about your teaching are you are in your art.

Good luck!

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MALI Summer Institute

August 7, 2018

Work is just beginning

Even though another Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Summer Institute (MAL) is history (number 8), the work for the MALI Teacher Leaders and Teaching Artist Leaders is just beginning.

I am so impressed with the topics that participants have taken on – each year the work is more comprehensive! I will include information about the research the leaders have underway in a future blog post.

The work is challenging and participants make a commitment to stretch themselves as they build on their knowledge and expertise as educators in the arts. MALI’s educators are committed to providing quality arts education for every Maine learner.

Often I am asked so what’s MALI all about and how can it impact me as a teacher? Below you will find some of the initial feedback received at the conclusion of the institute. The comments reflect the thoughtfulness of the participants and will provide a glimpse of the power of participating in MALI as a “leader”.

  • This institute may have changed my entire outlook. I feel like I have value and can help others through my work.
  • The energy was great.
  • Thank you for bringing us all together! The constant stimulating conversations are exhilarating! (joyfully exhausting). I LOVED the storytelling element.
  • Powerful presentations great stories
  • Gained a tremendous amount of insight into other teacher’s schools, jobs and lives. Always amazing experiences with MALI.
  • Thank you for the community connection of the Museum of Art and Ashley. Very inspiring.
  • Lots of great info. Introduced to new concepts. Networking and connections.
  • Amazing sharing! Inspired beyond belief by my peers.
  • Once again, I’m leaving excited about this year.
  • Leadership and creativity hit the spot for me personally. As always you can’t beat the connections made and renewed at MALI. I think I have benefitted a lot from a few key conversations.
  • OMG! I needed a 4thday now! Can you believe it? Great re-boot to my goals as an educator. Focused organization to start the year!
  • It was great! I have much to ponder over the coming months.
  • Lots of great information and inspiration. I liked the small workshops best.
  • I feel motivated and empowered by being around so many like-minded people. The positive energy that is found in this room is amazing.
  • This might be my favorite yet! I feel so fulfilled but not overwhelmed! So re-energized! Thank you and so much love for this organization!
  • I find it fascinating that as we add years on to our MALI gatherings our topics and ideas for our projects and presentations get bigger, better, deeper, more thoughtful, more global. I am so lucky to be part of this organization. Your hard pre-game work was truly appreciated!
  • Love the peeps – Love the sharing – especially the personal journeys. Leadership and artistic.
  • My overall reflection brings me to WOW! I have thoroughly been challenged, inquisitive, curious, exhausted, reignited, and REWARDED. Being surrounded by greatness has, again, been humbling.
  • This was an awesome opportunity to converse with people with similar professions and a wealth of experience to reflect on.
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MALI Phase 8 Educators

July 17, 2018

Congratulations

The Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI), now in year 8, announces three new teacher leaders and three new teaching artist leaders. These incredible educators bring the total number of MALI leaders to 107.  CONGRATULATIONS to the following educators.

Teaching Artist Leaders

  • Kerry Constantino – Dance
  • Joe Cough – Music
  • Shawna Barnes – Visual Art

 PK-12 Teacher Leaders

  • Shalimar Chasse – Visual Art, grades 7-12, Wiscasset Middle High Schools
  • Anthony Lufkin – Visual Art, grades K-8, Friendship Village, Prescott Memorial, Union Elementary, and Rivers Alternative Middle Schools (RSU#40)
  • Catherine Newell – Music

Each of these leaders brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to MALI. We’re excited about their involvement. During the next year you’ll have a chance to learn more about the phase 8 MALI work and about each of the new leaders on this blog.

Learn more about MALI at THIS LINK and access resources at THIS LINK.

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MALI Winter Retreat

March 14, 2018

Amazing opportunity to learn and exchange

Winter Retreat participants. photo credit: Chris Pinchbeck

Thirty Teacher Leaders and Teaching Artist Leaders met last Saturday for the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) winter retreat. It was a great opportunity to gather with friends and colleagues from across Maine.

PURPOSE

    • To provide an opportunity for the MALI community to come together to listen to and learn from each other
    • To review the work that has taken place during the phase underway
    • To address ideas and the latest topics in education/research and respond to timely issues relevant to Maine teachers
    • To provide information and/or context for participants 
    • To consider topics for the next phase of MALI

We accomplished the above and a whole lot more. There is nothing that compares to coming together with visual and performing arts teachers who have so much in common. So many topics to discuss and listen to what each person has to offer. “Getting off our islands” and coming together with “our community” on a winter day in March is refreshing!

The agenda was filled with art making from the Growth Mindset opening session to the finishing session that concluded with a meditative heart exercise.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Growth Mindset review and revisit with Lindsay Pinchbeck
  • MALI This We Believe statements review
  • MALI collaboration with art teacher Hope Lord and music teacher Dorie Tripp
  • Ukulele’s with music teacher Kate Smith
  • Update on Proficiency Based from Department of Education Diana Doiron
  • Looking ahead and considering ideas for Phase 8

If you are considering applying to be a Teacher Leader or a Teaching Artist Leader for MALI in Phase 8, please send an email to me – argy.nestor@maine.gov stating your interest. Applications will be available in May 2018.

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Through the Intern’s Eyes

August 9, 2017

MALI: Enriching Arts Education in Maine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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MALI Reflections

August 8, 2017

What’s it really all about

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

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

Reasons for MALIs success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Participants comments

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

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

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

Next steps

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

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

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