The Maine Department of Education (DOE), in partnership with JMG, recently held an Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs) Conference at the University of Maine Orono for Maine ELO Grant recipients. Over 120 professionals from 57 different districts, community organizations, and business partners attended the conference, which took place over the course of three days. Attendees had the opportunity to attend sessions on how to develop their ELO programs, reflect on their current programs, and network with others in the field each day.
Attendees learned important skills throughout their time at the conference, attending breakout sessions, activities, and meetings that provided them with the skills necessary to build or strengthen their ELO programs. Breakout sessions covered a wide range of topics including how to market ELOs as a community wide initiative and build connections with other schools, how to build strong pillars that can lead to a sustainable, supportive program, the best strategies for supporting students in virtual ELOs, and best practices for building a network of community partners. Breakout sessions also covered concrete skills such as building ELO syllabi that retain school culture, standard achievement, and skill mastery, how to assess ELO and student success, and how to use the ELO learning management system.
Some attendees expressed the value provided to them by taking part in the conference, sharing they now feel more comfortable and confident in helping students take on ELOs. One educator shared that they look forward to bringing this opportunity back to their Special Education students, while another was grateful to feel validated in their work thus far and to have gained new perspectives on ELOs. Many attendees also shared their appreciation for the new network of people and resources they now have access to, thanks to the conference.