Leading Early Learning—A Professional Learning Series for Elementary School Administrators

As Maine elementary schools have added preschool programming and continue to support the development of children in the Pre-K -Grade 3 span, many elementary principals have requested additional professional learning to support their work as educational leaders.  The Maine Department of Education (DOE) and several Maine educational organizations, listed below, have collaborated to design an exciting new professional learning series to address identified needs and support professional growth.  We are pleased to announce that the first cohort for this series will launch during the 2021-22 school year.

The series will not only provide participants with opportunities to deepen their knowledge of early learning pedagogy and best practices related to supporting students and teachers across Pre-K-3, but it will also provide participants with a professional learning network, opportunity to target a self-selected aspect of practice through a project-based approach, and be supported through facilitated discussions and coaching opportunities.  Participants will be engaged in a variety of modes of learning, from asynchronous learning modules to professional learning communities, to attendance at a statewide early learning conference.

If this opportunity interests you, please review the details of the series in the informational guideA link to apply for the series is included in the informational guide.  The series will be able to support up to 20 participants.  Applications will be received through June 30, but once spaces are filled, a waiting list will be generated.

An optional informational session about this professional learning opportunity will also be held on June 15 from 3:30-4:30 for anyone who is interested in learning more and who has questions about the opportunity.   Register for the informational session using this link.

For additional information, please contact Lee Anne Larsen, Early Learning Team Coordinator at Maine DOE, leeann.larsen@maine.gov.

Leading Early Learning Partner Organizations

  • Maine Department of Education
  • Maine Roads to Quality Professional Development Network
  • Maine Principals Association
  • Maine Association for the Education of Young Children
  • UMaine Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies

Free Inclusive Practices Training & Technical Assistance for Public Preschool Programs

Reminder, the deadline for applying is fast approaching!

School Administrative Units (SAUs) are asked to apply by June 4, 2021 to take advantage of this exciting professional development opportunity.  Notifications of acceptance will be provided by June 10, 2021.

This offering is available to any SAU in Maine with a public preschool program. The 2021 cohort will consist of 3 classrooms of 6 participants each. Teams must include the preschool teacher, ed tech, principal, special ed director, elementary special ed teacher and a regional CDS consultant or teacher. The purpose of team participation is to ensure consistent understanding and application of the course content so that high quality inclusive practices will be supported and sustained.

More detailed information about this opportunity can be accessed here.

The complete application is available at this link.

You may access this PDF version to preview the application prior to completing.

The project requirements include: Projected timeline:
Completion of the on-demand training: Inclusive Environments in Public Pre-K. By August 18, 2021
Participation in a half-day virtual orientation session. Mid-August 2021
Completion of an 18 hour online training: Creating Inclusive Preschool Settings Classrooms. September-November 2021
Participation in 2 PLCs scheduled as follow-up support during the online training. October 2021
Participation in consultation.

*It may be necessary to align class coverage on the days of consultation for some period of time.*

  • 2 (1-2 hour) classroom based consultations (onsite or technology-based).
  • 2 (1-2 hour) administrative consultation (onsite or technology based)
October-November 2021
Participation in a wrap up meeting hosted by the DOE to evaluate the project and short district team presentations to showcase your learning. December 2021

For more information, view the FAQ  or contact:

Nicole Madore at Nicole.madore@maine.gov or

Marcy Whitcomb at Marcy.r.whitcomb@maine.gov

Pre-K for ME and K for ME Program Overview Sessions and Training Opportunities

Since 2018, the Maine Department of Education has adapted and piloted open-source Pre-k and Kindergarten programs based on the Boston Public School’s evidence-based Focus on K1 and Focus on K2 curriculaPre-K for ME was launched in 2019.  K for ME will be launched in August of 2021.  These programs focus on the whole child and are interdisciplinary and developmentally appropriate.  They are also aligned to Maine’s learning standards.  While Maine schools are responsible for the purchase of the materials that support the programs, the programs can be accessed at no cost via the Maine DOE’s website.  Informational sessions for each of the programs are planned to provide an overview and opportunity for Q & A.  Dates, times, and registration for the overview sessions are:

Pre-K for ME Informational Session Registration (May 19, 3:00-4:00)

K for ME Informational Session Registration (May 25, 3:00-4:00)

Educators/schools/programs interested in utilizing Pre-K for ME and/or K for ME in the coming year may want to take advantage of 2-day initial trainings scheduled for this August.  These trainings are provided to promote understanding of program design and to support successful program implementation.  School administrators are strongly encouraged to attend the trainings with their Pre-K and/or Kindergarten teachers.

This year’s training opportunities will be held virtually from 8:30-3:30 on August 9 and 10 for Pre-K for ME and on August 11 and 12 for K for ME.  Registration for these trainings should be completed at the school/program level.  Principals and educators should complete one registration on behalf of their school/program.  Details about how to prepare for the trainings and the materials needed to support the programs will be provided at the overview sessions and via email as registrations are received. Registrations for the 2-day training should be received by June 30, 2021.

Registration Links:

Pre-K for ME 2-day Training Registration (August 9-10)

K for ME 2-day Training Registration (August 11-12)

For additional information about Pre-K for ME, contact Nicole.Madore@maine.gov, and for K for ME, contact Leeann.Larsen@maine.gov.

Free Inclusive Practices Training & Technical Assistance for Public Preschool Programs

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is pleased to announce a professional development opportunity designed specifically for Public Preschool Programs. This initiative will support a third cohort of public preschool educators and administrators in providing inclusive practices within high quality preschool environments for 4-year-olds.

This offering is available to any district in Maine with a Public Preschool Program. The 2021 cohort will consist of 3 classrooms of 6 participants each. Teams must include the preschool teacher, ed tech, principal, special ed director, elementary special ed teacher and a regional CDS consultant or teacher. The purpose of team participation is to ensure consistent understanding and application of the course content so that high quality inclusive practices will be supported and sustained.

The DOE Inclusive Initiative is a collaboration with Child Development Services (CDS) and Maine Roads to Quality Professional Development Network (MRTQ PDN), a University of Maine System partnership between University of Southern Maine (USM) and University of Maine (UMaine).  The partnership includes the University of Maine Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies (CCIDS) which has expertise in providing training and technical assistance around inclusion, equity and access.

The project faculty will deliver a continuum of learning and support activities through a blended learning model that equips teams to learn about, reflect on, practice and apply the information and strategies to build and strengthen instructional practices that promote high quality preschool environments. Each team will participate in and have access to:

  • Online training covering a range of topics with the objective of helping early educators develop a deeper understanding of how to promote inclusion in the classroom.
  • Consultation to expand on the training content and use the materials to personalize learning within your own setting.
  • A facilitated professional learning community (PLC) with other peers as “thinking partners” to share and explore topics and application strategies.
  • A suite of resources and tools to support this work.

Benefits of Participation for Maine Schools

Opportunities for administrators, teachers, educational technicians and CDS staff to:

  • Devote dedicated time as a team to focus on preschool pedagogy.
  • Develop a shared understanding of the components of high quality inclusive preschool classrooms.
  • Identify, plan and work toward a common goal to continue to support equity and excellence.
  • Gain access to other early care and education professional development opportunities.
  • Enhance teacher recruitment, retention and quality.
  • Receive certificates of contact hours which support certification renewal and/or local professional development requirements.

Please visit here to hear from past participants about their experiences in this initiative.

An informational lunch and learn meeting is scheduled for Monday May 17, 2021 at 11:15-12:15. Pre-registration is required and available here. A recording of this session will be made available for future viewing here.

Districts are asked to apply by June 4, 2021 to take advantage of this exciting professional development opportunity.  Notifications of acceptance will be provided by June 10, 2021.The tentative timeline of project requirements is outlined in the table below.

The project requirements include: Projected timeline:
Completing the On-demand training: Inclusive Environments in Public Pre-K. By August 18, 2021.
Participate in a half-day virtual orientation session. Mid-August 2021
Completing an 18 hour online training: Creating Inclusive Preschool Settings Classrooms. September-November 2021
Participate in 2 PLC’s scheduled as follow-up support during the online training. October 2021
Participate in consultation*
It may be necessary to align class coverage on the days of consultation for some period of time.*

  • 2 (1-2 hour) classroom based consultations (onsite or technology-based).
  • 2 (1-2 hour) administrative consultation (onsite or technology based)
October-November 2021
Participate in a wrap up meeting hosted by the DOE to evaluate the project and short district team presentations to showcase your learning. December 2021

The complete application is available at this link.

You may access this PDF version to preview the application prior to completing.

For more information, view the FAQ  or contact

Nicole Madore at Nicole.madore@maine.gov or

Marcy Whitcomb at Marcy.r.whitcomb@maine.gov

Celebrating the 2021 Week of the Young Child

The National Association for the Education of Young Children’s Week of the Young Child is turning 50!  This weeklong celebration highlights the importance of high-quality learning opportunities for young children and their families through a variety of awareness building activities.  This year, the Week of the Young Child will be celebrated  April 10-April 16, 2021.

The Early Learning Team at the Department of Education wants to take this opportunity to acknowledge the week that brings attention to whole child growth and development across the birth-grade 3 span and to encourage educators, families, and anyone interested in supporting young children to be part of this celebration. Each day of this weeklong celebration offers a theme to promote engagement of educators, families and students in new and exciting activities. For more information and ideas you can check out the NAEYC website or our Maine affiliate, Maine Association for the Education of Young Children (MAEYC).

As an example, the Maine DOE would like to highlight one public Pre-K program in RSU 58/MSAD 58 where teachers and administrators have come together to plan a week filled with activities  for their local students and families. With a Pre-K teacher taking the lead, the RSU 58 team raised $500 dollars in donations to purchase books through Scholastic Book Clubs. This will allow every child in their school systems from PreK-3rd grade to take a book home. RSU 58 has three elementary schools and they will be holding a Week of the Young Child event in all three locations. There will also be a book walk, literacy games, a book basket raffle and flyers about ways to improve child development. Way to go RSU 58!

Additionally, the Maine DOE’s Early Learning Team would like to celebrate the work of a number of Maine educators over the course of the past year in developing interdisciplinary, asynchronous learning modules for young children (PK-3) that can be accessed through the Maine Online Opportunities for Student Learning (MOOSE) platform.

Furthermore, the department, with support from Maine educators, has just published a Foundational Skills module for parents and caregivers  interested in better understanding how children’s foundational skills develop between ages 3-9 in the areas of literacy, mathematics, motor development, and approaches to learning. This new module is also housed within the MOOSE platform.

More information pertaining to the high-quality early education, transitions and development of young children can be accessed from our Early Childhood home page. Questions and concerns should be directed to our Early Childhood Specialist, nicole.madore@maine.gov