Maine DOE Engages Stakeholder Input Through Regional Think Tank Series

Drawing its largest gathering of stakeholders, the Maine Department of Education (DOE) hosted its 5th event in a series of Think Tanks held at various locations throughout the state this spring and summer. The Think Tanks are a way for the Department to discuss various topics and gain feedback from stakeholders about ongoing initiatives, long term programming, and to inform future decision-making.

In this first round of Think Tanks, the following topics were discussed: redefining school success, the Maine Learning Through Technology Initiative (MLTI), educator readiness, educator excellence, and special education.

The July 8th event held in Augusta started off with a warm introduction from Deputy Commissioner Daniel Chuhta thanking participants for making the trek to Augusta, in some cases from as far away as Washington County. Shortly after, attendees split off into three large groups to discuss specific topics for the day.

The discussion about MLTI, hosted by Beth Lambert, Maine DOE Coordinator of Secondary Education and Integrated Instruction, was introduced with an explanation of the 20 year history of MTLI, an acknowledgement that information will be forthcoming in regards to the recent passage of the budget and the coming school year, and that the day’s feedback will aid in the planning of the future of MLTI beyond 2021 when all of the current contracts have come to an end.

“Before we begin, I want to mention that there is only one thing that is off the table for today’s discussion,” said Lambert in her opening remarks. “We will not be talking about whether or not to end the MLTI Program,” she noted. “MLTI has been around for 20 years, and we would like it to be around for many, many more years to come.”

Stakeholder presenting feedback

Over the course of the next few hours the group was split off into four smaller groups, each tasked with identifying values, concerns, and suggestions on large sheets of chart paper. A summary of those lists was then shared out with the entire group before the session ended prior to lunch.

Meanwhile in another session, a group was discussing the answers to a specific set of questions posed by Maine DOE Deputy Director of the Office of Special Services, Ann Belanger:

  • What is the most challenging aspect of the special education process?
  • Do you find the Maine Unified Special Education Regulations (MUSER) user friendly? What would make them more user friendly?
  • How can the Maine Department of Education support districts and parents in providing services to students with disabilities?
  • Are there topics/issues about which you feel that more information and/or training is needed? What are they?
  • Are there practices and/or policies that create barriers for students with disabilities?

Stakeholders engaged in worksessionParticipants then shared their collaborative responses with the entire group, working together to carefully record all the responses in notes. The group then worked together to create the ideal special education program, detailing the processes that would need to be involved to create this type of ideal setting.

For the session about redefining school success, Mary Paine, the Director of a new Office of School Success, introduced an initiative that engages educators, students, parents, and communities in conversations about what they think makes a school successful. Her session worked to further engage with stakeholders on this topic. The framework that results from the Maine Defines School Success statewide dialog will eventually complement Maine’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan by providing a broader set of indicators of success in Maine’s schools. In addition to being part of the Think Tanks series, the school success discussion will continue in school communities throughout the state over the course of the next school year.

IMG_3330

Led by Maine DOE’s Office of Higher Education and Educator Support Services, the educator readiness session prompted participants to discuss talent needs that are ideal for teacher candidates including pre-service and in-service, as well as what is needed to ensure teachers are prepared for equity and diversity in the classroom.

Each session resulted in walls of chart paper filled with written notes detailing suggestions, ideas, concerns, values, and much more. “We are pleased with the participation and appreciate that folks were willing to join us in these discussions across the State,” said Deputy Commissioner Chuhta.

IMG_3304

Following the July 8th event there will be an additional Think Tank held in Winter Harbor this fall to discuss the same topics and the Department is also planning to release a survey for those unable to participate in discussion topics at the Think Tanks already held.

“In the works is a new section of the Maine DOE website dedicated to the Think Tanks where the transcribed notes from each of the sessions will be available along with other information,” said Chuhta. “In the coming months, the notes will be synthesized to help us determine next steps and guide decision making on the topics discussed,” he added.

In a continuation of the Think Tank Series, the Department is expecting to launch another round of Think Tanks on a different set of topics over the course of the coming school year.

ADMINISTRATIVE LETTER: Amendments to Educator Evaluation Requirements

Administrative Letter:  #25
Policy Code:   BGE
To: Public School Administrators, Teachers
From: Pender Makin, Commissioner
Date:  11 June 2019
Subject: Amendments to Title 20-A, Chapter 508, Educator Effectiveness

On April 11, 2019, Governor Mills signed a law that makes important changes to Performance  Evaluation and Professional Growth (PEPG) systems. The new law will go into effect 90 days after the current legislative session ends. Chapter 27, An Act to Amend Educator Evaluation Requirements, includes a number of changes.

  1. Under the new law, school administrative units may choose to identify and include student learning and growth measures that they deem valuable in summative effectiveness ratings, but they are no longer required to do so.
  2. SAUs must ensure or reconfigure their steering committee membership, such that a majority are teachers who are chosen by a representative of the applicable collective bargaining unit.
  3. The law states that, “revisions to the performance evaluation and professional growth system made by the steering committee must be reached by consensus.”

Implementation Guidance

  • The steering committee composition required in Chapter 27 will go into effect 90 days after the current legislative session comes to an end, likely near the start of the 2019-2020 school year.
  • The Department of Education is committed to a transparent and inclusive rule-making process for Chapter 180 that will begin in early fall of 2019, in preparation for the submission of the draft rules for consideration to the Committee for Education and Cultural Affairs in January, 2020.
  • Current law requires that student learning and growth measures must be a factor in a summative effectiveness rating until September 1, 2021.  PEPG steering committees are encouraged to review their current PEPG systems, and the vision, mission, and goals of the district, to determine the measures of effectiveness they will implement beginning with the 2021-2022 school year. In addition, the committee should develop reasonable transition plans and timelines for any changes to the PEPG system, as determined by the steering committee, taking into consideration the existing evaluation cycle, and when summative evaluations will be completed.

For more information, please contact Emily Gribben at Emily.gribben@maine.gov.

FREE Facilitated School Team Problem Solving Opportunity!

We are very excited to announce that the Maine Teacher Leadership Committee (Teach to Lead® Maine), in collaboration with the Maine Department of Education, United States Department of Education, and the University of Maine Farmington, will be hosting the second annual Powered By Teach to Lead® Summit on August 16, 2019.   This event encourages teams of teachers and administrators to identify a problem of practice or area of need in their school/district and develop a concrete plan to solve the identified problem/issue at their school.  Each team will be paired with a critical friend who will serve as a facilitator throughout the day.  All active Maine educators are welcome to submit ideas as individuals, but we strongly encourage schools/districts to bring a team of stakeholders to make the best progress at the Powered By Teach to Lead® Summit.  Examples of problems of practice that teams identified for the 2018 summit included: trauma-informed schools, development of a makerspace, teacher-led professional development, arts education, and more!

Please consider joining us for this FREE event on August 16th, 2019 at University of Maine Farmington.  As space is limited for this event, idea submissions will be reviewed by a team of education professionals, and invitations for participation, with registration details, will be emailed to those accepted.

Teach to Lead® Maine is a statewide effort, uniting educators, policy-makers, and the greater community around the common vision 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.  For more information about teacher leadership, please visit the Maine Department of Education’s website.

Application Link: http://tinyurl.com/poweredbymaine
Flier PDF: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OAoAx94jopzyGiss5GJISMu9-8lyo0A5/view?usp=sharing
Twitter Handle: @TeachtoLeadME

Emily Gribben
Educator Effectiveness Coordinator
Maine Department of Education
(207) 624-6748

Regional Think Tanks – Maine Department of Education Wants to Brainstorm With YOU!

Ready for the end of the year? Can’t wait for summer? Before you shift to the summer season, help us to reflect on the 2018/2019 School Year and keep the momentum of discussion for education in Maine.

The Department of Education is hosting several opportunities to collaborate and share experiences in different regions during the 2019 Summer Think Tank series. Join us for half a day to discuss your preferred topic or stay for the day and participate in two sessions.  Lunch will be provided in between the morning and afternoon sessions.

All interested members of your school community are invited to attend, however, an RSVP is required in advance. Please be sure to select the activity/activities (including lunch) so we can be best prepared to host you.

TOPICS INCLUDE:

ME Defines School Success: As part of a statewide conversation, this session will focus on how we define the success of our public schools. Participants will contribute to the identification of common values across the state, tell us what makes your schools successful, and propose ideas as to how we can expand the conversation and how we can use the outcomes of the conversation to promote our public schools.

MLTI: Come and join a conversation about the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI). Participants will engage in facilitated activities where they will share experiences, ideas, and feedback on the past 18 years of MLTI and discuss hopes for the future of the MLTI program.  Considerations may include devices, device distribution and management, infrastructure, professional development, and funding.

Special Education: Join us for a discussion of what’s working well with special education and what we can improve upon. Share your input on how we can better serve our students with disabilities and provide supports for schools and school administrative units.

Educator Excellence: To ensure that all students receive an excellent education that prepares them to succeed in today’s world, we must systematically increase the quantity and quality of our teaching workforce. This session is looking for feedback on issues related to increasing the recruitment and retention of talented classroom teachers. Topics include high retention pathways into the teaching profession, teacher professional development, and teacher leadership (career lattices that allow teachers to assume leadership roles without leaving the classroom). We are looking for school and district administrators as well as educators to participate in small group discussions to explore these topics. These conversations will assist the Department in enhancing policies and programs to attract and retain outstanding educators for Maine students.

Educator Readiness (7/8 PM Only): This session is an opportunity to provide feedback on a number of areas that impact educator readiness including diversity and equity, talent needs, professional development for educators, student teaching, the changing candidate profile, among others. We are looking for school and district administrators as well as educators to participate in small group discussions with representatives from Maine’s educator preparation programs to explore these topics. This conversation will assist the Department in enhancing policies and programs to support the changing needs of our schools, educators, and students.

JOIN US AT ONE OF THE FOLLOWING EVENTS:

June 11th – Lewiston

Ramada Lewiston and Conference Center
490 Pleasant Street
Lewiston, ME

AM/PM Topics will include:

  • Redefining School Success
  • MLTI
  • ME Special Education
  • Educator Excellence

To Register: http://events.egov.com/eventreg/ME/event.htm?name=doespringthinktanklewiston


June 12th – Saco

Ferry Beach Retreat & Conference Center
5 Morris Ave
Saco, ME

AM/PM Topics will include:

  • Redefining School Success
  • MLTI
  • ME Special Education
  • Educator Excellence

To Register: http://events.egov.com/eventreg/ME/event.htm?name=doesummerthinktanksaco


June 13thBangor

Bangor Banquet & Conference Center
701 Hogan Rd.
Bangor, ME

AM/PM Topics will include:

  • Redefining School Success
  • MLTI
  • ME Special Education
  • Educator Excellence

To Register: http://events.egov.com/eventreg/ME/event.htm?name=doesummerthinktankbangor


June 19th – Winter Harbor

Schoodic Institute
9 Atterbury Circle
Winter Harbor, ME

AM/PM Topics will include:

  • Redefining School Success
  • MLTI
  • ME Special Education
  • Educator Excellence

To Registerhttp://events.egov.com/eventreg/ME/event.htm?name=doesummerthinktankwinterharbor


June 20th – Presque Isle

Presque Isle Inn & Convention Center
116 Main Street
Presque Isle, ME

AM/PM Topics will include:

  • Redefining School Success
  • MLTI
  • ME Special Education
  • Educator Excellence

To Register: http://events.egov.com/eventreg/ME/event.htm
?name=doesummerthinktankpresqueisle


July 8th – Augusta

Senator Inn & Spa
284 Western Ave
Augusta, ME

AM/PM Topics will include:

  • Redefining School Success
  • MLTI
  • ME Special Education

PM Only:

  • Educator Readiness

To Register: http://events.egov.com/eventreg/ME/event.htm?name=doesummerthinktankaugustawrapup

Interdisciplinary, Exciting and Cost Effective Professional Development for Educators: Learning for the 21st Century

Join the Maine Department of Education as we explore knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for 21st century careers as well as the intentional actions of educators that support students’ skill and will to fuel their learning. During these day-long workshops, participants will delve into the principles of formative assessment as they examine strategies for building units of instruction that integrate multiple content areas. Sessions will be led by teams of the Department’s content specialists. Units will integrate combinations of world language, social studies, visual and performing arts, science, English language arts, health education and physical education, and mathematics. Units will also incorporate strategies for technology integration and family engagement.

Structure of the Day:

School districts are strongly encouraged to attend as teams of three or more people. Teams will gather at the beginning of the day for a panel presentation and discussion. Then, team members will attend breakout sessions where they will experience integrated lessons and units incorporating the principles of formative assessment drawn from Hattie, Fisher and Frey’s (2018) Developing Assessment Capable Learners text. Finally, at the end of the day, teams will reconvene to share, process, and apply what they experienced in the breakout sessions, as well as have opportunity to connect with other teams to gather additional ideas.

Team Configuration:

Teams may include PK-12 educators, administrators, instructional coaches, and special education instructors.  Schools are encouraged to include representation from multiple grade levels and all content areas when forming teams, and to divide up team members across breakout sessions.  The time at the end of the day will be more productive if participants attend as part of a team, but if an educator attends without a team, accommodations will be made to group single participants for sharing and planning. When registering participants, be sure to gather information about which breakout session each will attend.  Session descriptions are included below.

Registration Dates/Locations/Links:

Elementary (Pk-5):

July 9th at the Ramada in Lewiston, 8:30-3:30

July 24th at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer, 8:30-3:30

Secondary (6-12):

July 10th at the Ramada in Lewiston, 8:30-3:30

July 25th at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer, 8:30-3:30

Registration Cost:

$75/team of 3 or $30/ person.  Individual registrations are accepted, but teams are strongly encouraged.  Register by June 28, 2019.  Credit or debit cards are necessary for registration.  Cancellations must be made at least a week prior to the event to be eligible for a refund.  A morning snack and lunch will be provided. Participants will earn 6 contact hours.

For more information please contact Lee Anne Larsen, leeann.larsen@maine.gov or Beth Lambert, beth.lambert@maine.gov.

PK-5 Breakout Session Selections

Session 1: Laying a Foundation for Future Learning

Wendy L. Ostroff describes curiosity as being aware and open, checking things out, experimenting and interacting within one’s surroundings. Come explore with us ways to create the conditions for curiosity in the PK-5 classrooms. Together, specialists in Career and Education Development, Early Childhood Learning, Physical Education, and World Languages have designed learning experiences to pique curiosity about inventors, inventions and innovations and how they change daily life.  Presented by Maine DOE Specialists Jean Zimmerman (Physical Education), Lavinia Rogers (World Languages), Nicole Madore (Early Childhood), and Diana Doiron (Career and Education Development).

Session 2: Mimicking Animals

Humans have imitated and mimicked animal characteristics for as long as man has walked the earth. In this strand we will explore how humans use strategies inspired by nature to solve health and safety problems, then to communicate those out while embracing strategies that are proven to advance student learning and develop assessment capable learners.  Presented by Maine DOE Specialists Danielle Saucier (English Language Arts), Susan Berry (Health Education), and Shari Templeton (Science).

Session 3: Putting the You in Comm_nity

It takes a community to raise a child and this includes making sure that students understand that they are part of a bigger world. Take a look at what it means to be part of a community through the eyes of early childhood, visual and performing arts, and social studies as we explore an integrated approach to instruction that focuses on helping students take ownership in their own learning. Presented by Maine DOE Specialists Joe Schmidt (Social Studies), Nate Menifield (Visual and Performing Arts), and Sue Reed (Early Childhood).

6-12 Breakout Session Selections

Session 1:  To Tell the Truth: Using Decision-Making to Your Advantage

As the rate of change in the world increases faster than ever imagined, students need to be able to think on their feet, process new information, and make good decisions. Come explore with us ways to support students to think critically about the world around them by examining how Career and Education Development, Health Education, and Social Studies could use problem solving to develop decision-making skills that are necessary for success both in and out of the classroom.  Presented by Maine DOE Specialists Susan Berry (Health Education), Joe Schmidt (Social Studies), and Diana Doiron (Career and Education Development).

Session 2:  Graphical Literacy, S’il Vous Plait

World Languages, Mathematics and Science all build upon knowing how to read and interpret data found in a variety of graphical formats. We will utilize graphs to tell a story and to explore the intersections between content areas while practicing proven strategies that move the needle on student learning. Presented by Maine DOE Specialists Lavinia Rogers (World Languages), Michele Mailhot (Math), and Shari Templeton (Science).

 Session 3:  Strength And Stamina: Supporting Assessment Capable Students In Visual & Performing Arts, Health & Physical Education, and English Language Arts

 Building learning strength requires a growth mindset to set goals that are challenging and reachable. Building leaning stamina involves persistence, problem solving, planning, and practice. VPA, HPE, and ELA specialists will provide support for evaluating learning to set growth goals and model strategies for building stamina while focusing on the student’s overall experience throughout the school day, the school year, or the education pathway. Presented by Maine DOE Specialists Jean Zimmerman (Physical Education), Morgan Dunton (English Language Arts), and Nate Menifield (Visual and Performing Arts).