School Leaders and Teachers Collaborate at 2nd Annul Teach to Lead Summit

room full of educators sitting at tablesSeventy-three educators from across the state convened at the University of Maine Farmington on Friday, August 16th for the Powered by Teach to Lead Summit.  The summit, in its’ second year, brought together teams of teachers and school administrators to work on a specific identified problem of practice.

Last Friday, teams from Caribou, Gorham Schools, Maine Arts Commission, Academy Hill, Skowhegan Area Middle School, SeDoMoCha, Mill Stream and Kennebunk convened to collaborate and problem-solve. They were guided through a logic model which helped to frame the problem of practice, identify root causes, identify key stakeholders, and challenged teams to develop action steps moving forward.  Each team was paired with a Critical Friend who facilitated the conversation.

Problems of practice included scheduling; school culture; creating a culture of success: leadership teams; family engagement; Maine Arts Leadership Initiative; diversity, equity, and inclusion; trauma informed and restorative practices; and chronic absenteeism.

Committee Members: Chris Coleman, AOS 93; Jennifer Wright-Greg, AOS 93; Kasie Giallombardo, Nokomis; and Talya Edlund, RSU 5
Committee Members Chris Coleman, AOS 93; Jennifer Wright-Greg, AOS 93; Kasie Giallombardo, Nokomis; and Talya Edlund, RSU 5

Event attendees stressed the value of structured time for the development of tangible action steps, the importance of time to collaborate with colleagues, and the value in having a ‘critical friend’ to guide their process.

Teach to Lead Maine believes that every Maine student will benefit from the purposeful involvement of teacher leaders who collaborate in guiding the continuous improvement of schools and the teaching profession.  The organization, led by educators (Kaitlin Young, Chris Coleman, and Jennifer Wright), is a collaboration between teachers, the Maine Principal’s Association, the Maine Education Association, University of Maine Farmington, Maine State Teachers of the Year Association, and the Maine Department of Education.  Stakeholders work collaboratively throughout the year to plan the summit, present on the benefits of teacher leadership, and share resources to support districts in bolstering teacher leadership initiatives.

This event was offered to teams at no cost and was made possible Maine Department of Education, the University of Maine Farmington, The Maine State Teachers of the Year Association, Unum, University Credit Union, and Lee Auto Malls.  For more information about Teach to Lead, how to get involved, or to become a sponsor please visit the website.

The Transformational Leaders’ Network (TLN): Learn More!

THERE IS STILL ROOM TO JOIN, Read All About It!

Twenty-four Maine administrators came together this summer for the first 3-day Transformational Leaders’ Network (TLN) retreat held at the Senator Inn in Augusta.  Fully sponsored by the Maine Department of Education, districts made a meaningful commitment to support their leaders in building their capacity. Led by several facilitators with expertise in designing and coordinating educational leadership graduate programs at the University of Maine, as well as school coaching and mentoring, the retreat was structured to help these leaders further their skills to realize the goals of their school improvement plans.

During a conversation about the growing demands on school leaders, Marie Robinson, PreK-12 principal of Katahdin’s Schools and superintendent of Medway, said, “At what point do you say ‘Stop–I need to come up with a better way’.”  Marie had been a participant in a previous TLN cohort. During the retreat, participants had the opportunity to hear from other school leaders who, like Marie, had been part of that TLN cohort.

“I didn’t think of the [TLN] meetings as another thing I was going to have to do.  I looked forward to my meetings, knowing that I would come out refreshed and ready to problem solve,” Marie shared as she sat in a roundtable discussion with other principals from around the state. She went on to explain that the TLN didn’t tell her what to do about any one specific issue she was experiencing, but rather that her TLN experience gave her the resources and know-how to approach a situation with a new perspective and a toolbox of ideas.

Ainslee Riley, principal of Thomaston Grammar School, a first-time participant in the program, commented on her experience at the retreat, “I wasn’t sure what to expect from the conference, it sounded interesting on paper,” she said in an email following the conference. “I am so happy that I decided to attend.  It was an excellent opportunity for me to focus on my school goals and my personal goals as an educational leader.

“It is not often that administrators have an opportunity to get together outside of their own district for the purpose of helping one another to grow,” she added. “I would recommend this experience to any administrator, whether they are brand new to the profession or a veteran.”

At the beginning of the retreat, participants went around the room introducing themselves, including information about where they were a school leader, and for how many years. There was a range of expertise in the room, everywhere from,  “I just finished my first year as a principal and before that I was a teacher,” a response met with knowing smiles and head nods from around the room, to others with 15 to 25 years of experience in school leadership. All participants brought to the table a unique set of experiences, circumstances, and challenges to share and reflect upon.

In addition to providing school leaders an opportunity to connect with one another, celebrate successes, and address challenges, the retreat goal was for them to develop two action plans for the coming year: one to include continued and on-going professional learning and growth for their schools as a whole, and one for transformational leadership, professional self-growth, and self-care as leaders.

The range in growth plans was broad, focusing on RTI and data, visioning and collaboration, addressing difficult issues, and providing meaningful leadership to staff in order to raise students’ success.

The TLN is not a new program of the Department of Education.  It was originally designed over six years ago to support school leaders of struggling schools.  However, the TLN for 2019-2020 kicks off an opportunity for any and all Maine principals, assistant principals and curriculum coordinators to join the network. The yearlong TLN experience will bring school leaders together to support leadership growth and to improve schools. The program will include regional meetings, leadership training, coaching, networking, and professional development for school level leaders who are interested in joining.

To learn more information and register to join the TLN, please visit the TLN webpage (https://www.maine.gov/doe/Testing_Accountability/model/turnaround ).

For further questions or information about the Transformational Leaders’ Network (TLN), contact Chelsey Fortin-Trimble, ESEA Federal Programs and School Turnaround Director at Chelsey.A.Fortin@maine.gov.

MEDIA ADVISORY: Open House of NEW Maine Department of Education Culinary Classroom

What: Open House and Introduction to NEW Child Nutrition Culinary Classroom
When: Sept 10, 2019 1pm – 4pm
Where: 90 Blossom Lane, 1st floor Deering Building

We are excited to announce and to show off the Maine Department of Education Child Nutrition Team’s first culinary classroom for the School Lunch and Breakfast program, and invite members of the child nutrition/school communities and media outlets to an open house of our new kitchen.  The classroom replicates the kitchens found in our schools, with commercial ovens,  cook tops and other commercial equipment used in school meal preparation.  The modern classroom will have the ability to stream, record and host live audiences for demonstrations, and the Child Nutrition program will use resident chefs to provide additional training to local food service staff.  The kitchen will be able to rotate 30 cooks at time, with both hands-on experience and paperwork management.  Some examples of upcoming classes are: knife skills and maintenance, preparing summer squash, measuring techniques, using USDA foods effectively, and vegan options.  The kitchen will be the host of the annual school cook off contest as well. We are excited by the possibilities and grateful for the amazing space in which we can support our school nutrition programs as they provide healthy meals to Maine’s students.

More information, please contact Walter Beesley at walter.beesley@maine.gov

Maine DOE Summer Literacy Conference Provides Professional Learning on Small Group Strategies

Maine DOE’s Elementary Literacy Specialist Dee Saucier and School Turnaround Literacy Coach Darlene Bassett led a two-day summer professional learning event earlier this week in Augusta for Maine educators.

Conference Participants had the opportunity to learn how to implement the Assess-Decide-Guide framework in balanced literacylearn the elements of text complexity and how it impacts instructional decisions, understand the foundations of guided reading as a small group, learn the components and purposes for today’s guided reading, and learn how to take elements of the Assess-Decide-Guide framework and apply them to other forms of small group instruction.

The conference enabled educators to walk away with a plan of action to begin implementing small groups. 

Maine Teachers Gather to Revise Learning Standards in ELA, Mathematics, and Career and Education Development

Math teachers convene in the Maine State Library
Math teachers convene in the Maine State Library

This article was written by Maine DOE 2019 Summer Intern Emmeline Willey.

In July and August this summer, writing teams comprised of dozens of educators from across the State assembled at the Capitol complex to begin the revision of the Maine Learning Results content standards for mathematics, career and education development, and English language arts. These teams are composed of PK-12 teachers from across the state and represent Maine’s cultural and geographic diversity.

The writing teams were participating in step five of the intensive 14-step process of standards revision. This process began last fall when the Department collected feedback during the first of several public comment periods that will be held over the course of the procedure.

Standards Review3
Teachers split off into smaller groups for work sessions

Each content area standard in the Maine Learning Results is reviewed on a rotating five-year schedule. Last year, teams of Maine educators reviewed science and engineering, and social studies; next year, teachers will revise standards for the visual and performing arts, world languages, and health education and physical education.

Good learning standards dictate what a student should have learned in a space of time, not how they learned it. The involvement of teachers currently in the field ensures the standards are relevant and valuable to their fellow educators. The entire process can be followed online.

Educators who took part in the process took a moment to reflect on the process and why they participated:

After the writing teams complete the drafting process, the Maine DOE will hold another public comment period this fall, the date of which will be announced.