Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Karen MacDonald – King Middle School

September 11, 2013

2014 Maine Teacher of the Year

Screen shot 2013-09-10 at 9.22.07 PMPortland’s Karen MacDonald named 2014 Maine Teacher of the Year
Maine Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen announced the King Middle School sixth-and seventh-grade teacher as Maine’s top educator in a surprise all-school assembly Tuesday

PORTLAND – A 24-year veteran teacher at the state’s most diverse middle school is the 2014 Maine Teacher of the Year.

In a surprise assembly at King Middle School (KMS) in Portland Tuesday morning, Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen announced Karen MacDonald, who has served students in Portland Public Schools since 1979 and been at KMS since 1989, as Maine’s top teacher.

The sixth-and seventh-grade English language arts teacher is described by students as a “gift,” by colleagues as a teacher leader who is “the most consistently innovative” and by her principal as “relentlessly committed to the success of all of her students.”

In a letter to MacDonald shared by Commissioner Bowen Tuesday, Governor Paul R. LePage thanked her on behalf of a grateful state for devoting her life to serving the students who are Maine’s future.

“In the 33 years you have taught in Portland schools, you have exemplified what it means to put students first, constantly improving your teaching practices to best meet the changing needs of your students in innovative, imaginative ways,” Governor LePage wrote. “The ‘you can do this’ message you always give your students  – many of them new to this country and our English language – instills them with the confidence that they can do anything, including realizing the American dream. Thanks to you, education truly is the great equalizer for students from all walks of life who come through your classroom door.”

KMS serves the most racially, ethnically and economically diverse neighborhoods in Maine and its 550 students represent 22 countries and 29 native first languages.

Those students were joined in celebrating MacDonald by Commissioner Bowen, Portland School District Superintendent Manny Caulk, KMS Principal Mike McCarthy, past Maine Teacher of the Years including 2013 winner Shannon Shanning, Educate Maine Director Tanna Clews, Bangor Savings Bank Regional Market Manager Stephan Woods, Hannaford Director of Corporate Communications Michael Norton and State Board of Education Chair Nancy Perkins and Vice-Chair Peter Geiger.

Thinking it was an assembly about the state’s technology program, MacDonald stood attentively next to her students, taking notes until Commissioner Bowen announced he was actually there because of the great teachers at KMS, and one in particular. Students erupted with excitement, giving a standing ovation as MacDonald made her way to the stage where her family joined her.

MacDonald quickly turned her award into a teachable moment, addressing her class privately after the assembly was dismissed to tell students she never dreamed she’d actually win Maine Teacher of the Year and that it was a lesson in the value of taking risks. She promised to share her journey with them, including her upcoming visit to the White House and NASA space camp.

“I am so proud to be a teacher. It’s an amazing career,” she said.

In addition to MacDonald, the other 2014 finalists were Mary Graziano, a fourth-grade teacher at Hartland Consolidated School, and Suzen Polk-Hoffses, a kindergarten teacher at Milbridge Elementary School.

“It’s certainly a great day in the teaching career of Karen MacDonald and it is also a great day for King Middle School,” said Principal McCarthy. “But every day that Karen MacDonald is here it is a great day. She is simply the best teacher we have ever known.”

As Teacher of the Year, MacDonald will serve as an ambassador for her profession and Maine’s students, and she will be available to travel across the state speaking to colleagues and business and community groups. Starting last year, Bangor Savings Bank began reimbursing the Teacher of the Year’s school district for the cost of substitutes while the Teacher of the Year was out of the classroom on official duties.

Maine Teacher of the Year is a program of the Maine Department of Education, administered by Educate Maine. Educate Maine is a business-led organization whose mission is to champion college, career readiness and increased education attainment with a goal of Maine’s students and workers being the best educated and most highly skilled in the world. For more information, visit http://www.educatemaine.org. Funding for the program is generously provided by Hannaford, Geiger and Bangor Savings Bank with support from the State Board of Education and the Maine State Teacher of the Year Association.

The nomination process for the 2015 Maine Teacher of the Year begins this November. Those interested in nominating a teacher should contact their school principal or visit the Maine Department of Education website at www.maine.gov/doe/toy.

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Empowering Students: MAMLE Annual Conference

September 5, 2013

MAMLE’s annual conference is coming right up!  A flyer and registration materials were sent to all schools this week.  Mark your calendars!

Dates:  October 17 & 18

Location: Point Lookout Resort and Conference Center, Northport

Flyer 3

Highlights of the conference:

  • Two inspiring keynoters: Al Miller & Jack Berckemeyer

Al Miller

Al Miller will be speaking Thursday: “Theater in the Classroom: Creative Energy”

Jack Berckemeyer will be speaking Friday: “Middle Level Education:

Living It, Loving It, Laughing About It”

BerckemeyerJack

  • 35 + concurrent sessions
  • Featured presentations related to literacy with Dr. Kevin Perks
  • HP & Apple are both presenting and will have Help Desks for individual questions
  • Annual Thursday evening social, Meet Me in the Middle networking get-together, and exhibitors

Highlights of Point Lookout

  • Overlooks Penobscot Bay
  • Trails, ocean beach, kayaking & fitness center
  • Cabins on site for those staying overnight
  • Internet everywhere
  • Delectable meals
  • Great breakout rooms
  • Easily accessible via Rt. 1 or Rts. 95 & 3

For current information about the specifics of the conference check out the conference page at MAMLE’s new website: http://mainemamle.org/conference/   You can download registration and housing materials as well as read a preview of some of the sessions!

MiddleWeb Smartbriefs – Tips for the New School Year and More

August 10, 2013

Do you know about Middleweb.com? If not you should!
MiddleWeb is all about the middle grades with a sharp focus on teaching and learning in grades 4-8. Here’s a description from their website.

• Resource Roundups: short, link-laden essays built around a theme. Browse here or search for keywords.

• Guest Posts: Just what you might expect…first-person articles.  The voices of middle grades education stars and many lesser known teachers and school leaders up on the front lines who have stories to tell and good practice to share.

• Book Reviews: Reviews of professional books of interest to educators working in the middle. If you’re interested in becoming a MiddleWeb reviewer, let us know. We’ll share a list of what’s available and some basic guidelines for review writing. You pick what you’d like to read, write the review, keep the book. We publish your reviews, make you famous.

• Interviews: We’re talking with interesting people who have expertise around middle grades education — or just do great things for middle grades kids and schools. Peruse our Five Q Interviews for ideas, insights, and plain good chat.

Middleweb SmartBrief

As part of the new MiddleWeb experience, we’ve formed a partnership with the SmartBrief Education news team to produce the twice-weekly MiddleWeb SmartBrief e-newsletter. You may be familiar with the nation’s premier professional newsletter organization, which also publishes ASCD SmartBrief, Accomplished Teacher SmartBrief, SmartBrief on Ed Tech and other education reports.

MiddleWeb SmartBrief specializes in Grades 4-8 news and resources. We work with SmartBrief editors to shape the content and also contribute our own news and resources to every issue. Subscriptions are free, your address is kept confidential, and you can unsubscribe anytime with a single click.

Here’s some of the latest items from the MiddleWeb Smartbriefs.

Tips on preparing for a good school year
Educator and author Julia Thompson in this blog post offers a laundry list of ideas to prepare for the first day of school and set the tone for the rest of the school year such as planning lessons to engage students’ readiness and planning an icebreaker to help students get to know each other. “Teach your first lesson as if it is the most important one you will teach all year. In many ways, it is,” she writes. Education Week Teacher/Classroom Q&A blog

How teachers can avoid decision-making fatigue and remain productive
Teachers can make as many as 5,000 decisions in a school day, leading to what award-winning educator Brian Page calls “decision fatigue.” In this blog post, Page offers five tips to help connected teachers and administrators remain productive, including doing creative work first, setting an automated e-mail response that lists a later time when a response can be expected, along with scheduling time for social media. He also suggests making the most of downtime and completing one task at a time. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education

“A gift to preservice and practicing teachers that will be hard to keep on the shelf” (Teachers College Record). 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know is a comprehensive guide to teaching any genre or form in grades 3-9. You’ll get a rich collection of mentor texts, tips, and launching points. Preview Chapter 1: Getting and Keeping Writers Motivated.

So check out Middleweb.com

June 15th Deadline For MLEI

May 31, 2013

NOW is the time to register for the Middle Level Education Institute at Bowdoin College on July 29-August 1. The June 15th deadline is fast approaching and we don’t want you to miss out! No matter what challenges or opportunities your school, team, or classrooms are facing, MLEI is the perfect venue to bring a team together and work intensively and extensively over a period of three days on one or more key projects for September. In addition to large blocks of team time, and the company of enthusiastic MLEI participants, you’ll have access to internationally recognized middle level experts Nancy Doda, Mark Springer, Jill Spencer, and Chris Toy throughout the institute. We are also in touch with the folks providing training and resources for MLTI who will be on campus to support you with preparing for the fall. Teachers and principals who have attended past institutes consistently report that time together at MLEI has paid huge dividends throughout the school year and beyond. So head on over to the Middle Level Institute website and register NOW! We look forward to seeing you in July. Oh, and be sure to spread the word by sharing this information with your middle level colleagues. Thanks!

Middle Level Education–21st Century Style! Empowering Students to Take Charge of Their Learning

April 21, 2013

Jack Berckemeyer

The Young Adolescent Learner

Al Miller

Creativity in the Classroom

Dr. Kevin Perks

Literacy in the Content Areas

Bea McGarvey

Customized Learning

Where Can You Meet All of These Experts in ONE Place?

Plus over 30 concurrent sessions

MAMLE Annual Conference

Point Lookout, Northport Maine

October 17 & 18, 2013

For more information email or call Dr. Wally Alexander, Executive Director of MAMLE

wallace.alexander@umit.maine.edu
207-649-1576

Recognize a Colleague

April 13, 2013
IMG_2079

Barbara Greenstone received the Janet Nesin Reynolds Outstanding Middle Level Educator award at the MAMLE conference, 2011. Barbara is joined by colleagues Jill Spencer and Sandy Nevens.

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to attend several events where teachers have been recognized for their contributions to their students education. I’ve been thinking about how important recognition programs are and the impact it has on individual teachers. The pride in teachers faces, the excitement in their students voices, and the tears in their closest family members eyes all contribute to the story. In fact, in many cases not only is it a wonderful feeling for the teacher but it has potential to positively impact the school and community. Anyone that has been a member of a nominating committee or perhaps the recipient of an award knows and understand the impact being recognized can have.

In many cases we wait until someone retires and celebrate their lifetime commitment. But it certainly isn’t necessary to wait until that time in a teachers life.

The Maine Association for Middle Level Education (MAML) recognizes individual teachers and teams of teachers each year at the annual fall conference in October. For many years the conference has been held at Sugarloaf and this year it will be at Point Lookout in Northport.

If you’ve been thinking about how you can thank a colleague for the work they do each day in a middle school classroom in your school please consider nominating them for a MAMLE award. The application won’t take long to complete and what fun it could be to attend the conference with your colleagues to celebrate the commitment.

Please contact MAMLEs Executive Director Wally Alexander at wallace_alexander@umit.maine.edu for an application. Now is the time, please don’t delay. Thank a colleague!

Techno Wizards: Students Model Good Digital Citizenship

April 3, 2013

2013-01-159507.54.52Recently Warsaw Middle School’s Techno Wizards presented to elementary and middle school students and their parents on various aspects of digital citizenship. Eight students from Warsaw’s (WMS) new student technology team shared research, insights, advice, and tips on several critical topics—digital natives and immigrants, private and personal information online, password security, digital footprints, cyberbullying, and intellectual property. The students were professional, cool, and knowledgeable while presenting information and answering questions posed to them. But this was not their first public presentation.

The Techno Wizards have been busy since last September under the able direction of advisor and mentor, Ms. Lori Stevens, Warsaw’s technology integrator. Key functions of the Warsaw student technology team are to provide technology and learning assistance to teachers and fellow students, to assist with needed technical repairs and set-up, and perhaps most importantly of all, to serve as positive digital citizenship role models for both their school and their community. Digital citizenship refers to understanding and knowing how to navigate the digital world responsibly, safely, and ethically, obviously a set of skills that are becoming more important everyday.

Fourteen students applied for and eventually joined the Techno Wizards because they enjoy learning about and using technology; they also take seriously “giving back” to their school. It shouldn’t be a surprise that they are emerging student leaders at WMS. The Techno Wizards don’t get paid and they don’t receive academic credit for their work. Those types of external awards aren’t what motivate them! They do meet with Ms. Stevens every Tuesday morning at 7:20 a.m. to prepare for their next presentation, learn about applications of software to learning,  or how to assist their own teachers in using an app or software more effectively.

What else do the Techno Wizards do? Early in the school year they learned about Google Sites, a tool that every student at WMS will use to build his/her own digital portfolio. (A digital portfolio is a “purposeful collection” of a student’s best work in an electronic format, required by more colleges and workplaces.) Techno Wizards learned how to operate Google Sites first so that they could assist their teachers and eventually fellow students. I attended one of the professional development sessions and loved seeing the interesting role reversal as teachers learned from students!

Each week several students assist Ms. Stevens as she instructs fourth  grade students at the elementary school across the street. Every Techno Wizard also offers daily assistance to teachers and students in their classes. This ranges from trouble-shooting computer problems, to showing how to save, find, or send information to others, how to print, or how to use new tools as they are introduced. In short, the 14 Techno Wizards become 14 additional teachers for WMS.

But make no mistake…this is not simply a modern-day “AV Club” focused on computers, tablets, and projectors. Today’s student technology teams, like the Techno Wizards at Warsaw Middle School, use student expertise, leadership, enthusiasm, and an uncanny ability to work with a variety of people to strengthen the learning missions of their schools.

How do students assist with technology and learning in your school?

THERE’S STILL TIME . . . to attend the NELMS Annual Conference

March 25, 2013

It’s a sure sign that Spring is right around the corner.  “Meeting the Multi-Faceted Needs of the Middle Level Learner” convenes next week, April 4 & 5, in Providence, Rhode Island, where there will be green grass and blooming flowers(I hope!).  Don’t miss two days of inspiring, invigorating, relevant professional development.  If you need help or ideas on how to fund this incredible opportunity, contact the NELMS office, and check out the full Annual Conference program.

Inspiring Keynote speakers:

Tom Burton on “Magic, Motivation & Our ‘Sparkling’ Middle Level Students”

Carol Ann Tomlinson on “The Demographics, Research & Ethics Of Differentiation”.

Engaging ticketed luncheons and targeted full and half day sessions (a sampling includes):

“It’s More Than A Name” – Tom Burton

“Listen To What The Students Say: Student Profiles That Invite Differentiation”  – Carol Ann Tomlinson

Student Success Plans + “Cutting Edge, New” Advisory = Student Success – Earle Bidwell

Digital Tools for Project Based Learning – Jill Spencer

How Can We Use Strategies and Assessments to Prepare for the Transition to Common Core State Standards? – Deb Scarpelli

Exploring and Applying Web 2.0 Tools and Resources in the Middle – Chris Toy

Courageous and Collaborative Leadership in the Middle – Lyn Ward Healy

Differentiation and the Brain: How Neuroscience Supports the Learner Friendly Classroom – Carol Ann Tomlinson

Timely and relevant concurrent workshop sessions based on the concepts contained in Turning Points 2000 and This We Believe

“I Pity The Fool!” Leadership Advice From Mr. T

March 2, 2013

Mr. T An opening workshop conversation I often have with school leaders around the world is to share three words of wisdom from a well-known figure—Mr. T. Even people outside the United States recognize the scowling muscular character from “The A Team,” and his signature commentary about his adversaries, “I pity the fool!” delivered in a menacing, rumbling growl. Of course, it’s not this four-word phrase I’m referring to. “Mr. T” is an acronym I use to remind us how to effectively advocate for, support, and sustain the integration of technology and learning in our schools (or any aspect of school effectiveness for that matter).

The “M” in Mr. T represents the need for school leaders to model what they want faculty, staff, and students to be doing in their classrooms. The importance of modeling is echoed in the famous quote “We must become the change we want to see in the world” by Mahatma Gandhi. Leadership must be seen as leading by example. Albert Einstein stated that “Modeling isn’t another way to teach, it is the only way.” As the lead teachers in a school, administrators must use and integrate today’s tools and resources in their work with colleagues, staff, and students on a regular basis if they want this to happen in their schools. School leaders should learn about and use both online and offline digital tools and resources in daily work and routines. Using hardware such as laptops, interactive whiteboards, smartphones, and document projectors to share and communicate ideas should be business as usual. Principals who use software tools for presenting ideas, facilitating and archiving conversations, and collaborating are modeling what teachers and students should be doing in their classrooms. “Walking the talk” matters!

The “R” in Mr. T represents the importance of taking time in our busy schedules to pause and reflect. Our days, and often nights, are filled with meetings, deadlines, data, and emergencies. We seldom take the time to stop and reflect on the meaning and significance of our activities. Yet, we regularly pay lip service to the importance of being reflective learners and practitioners as we rush from one agenda item to the next. Or we admonish students to stop and think about the consequences of their decisions. We fall into bed each night then get up in a handful of hours and begin again.

Here again, if we want to implement learning technology in meaningful ways we must periodically stop, or at least slow down, and make time to consider what we are doing, why we are doing it, and its significance in light of our overall vision. The great Chinese philosopher, Confucius, advised us to keep in mind that “Learning without reflection is to become lost.” As educational leaders we must model reflection, and we must create space and the expectation that reflection will be a key aspect of the learning process. This can be accomplished as simply as pausing after an activity and doing a simple “think, pair, share” around the question, “What implications does this activity have for our vision as a school?” This can be accomplished in under five minutes, and can be extended using online tools such as a wiki.

Finally, the “T” in Mr. T represents the critical process of transfer. Transfer happens when we take an experience in one setting and actually apply it in a meaningful way in another situation. If we do not figure out a way to transfer and apply an experience in our own lives or work, that experience is soon forgotten. We can all complete the oft quoted aphorism, “If you don’t use it, you…” It is the responsibility to the leader, whether it’s the school leader or the leader of the classroom, to plan for, build in, and facilitate this transfer. Transfer is critical when it comes to integrating learning and technology where the interest is often focused on the novelty of the latest application or tool. The leader must take advantage of the interest and move the work forward by asking and requiring the staff to grapple with and answer the question, “How can we use this in our own work?”

So, take 30 seconds and ask yourself, “Am I like Mr. T when it comes to modeling, reflecting, and transferring what I want to see in my school?” If not, you know what Mr. T would have to say!

This entry is reposted from NASSP at http://tinyurl.com/NASSP-Mr-T

Middle School Principal of the Year

February 28, 2013

Troy Howard Middle School

Screen shot 2013-02-28 at 4.52.51 AMKimberly Buckheit was honored earlier this week for bring named the Maine Middle Level Principal of the Year by the Maine Principal Association. Bangor Daily News staff writer Abigail Curtis covered the story for the newspaper.

I have had the opportunity to work with Kim over the years and know that she has worked hard and collaboratively with students, staff and parents in the community of Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast.

Kim was recognized in front of students and staff where she said: “I’m commonly in the hallway with the kids. Helping them. Talking to them about what they’re doing.” We know that is a necessary and sometimes difficult with all the details that educators are juggling. Student council president Emily Harriman said: “She’s always there for us and so easy to talk to. I feel that she deserves it.”

CONGRATULATIONS KIM and Troy Howard Middle School!


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