• Sara Needleman

The Second Maine Proficiency-based Symposium

What are the “take aways” from the second Maine Proficiency-based Symposium held last Friday at Windham High School? There are many, and they’re pretty powerful. In no particular order, let me share some of the few that resonate most deeply with me.

  1. We brought nearly 100 educators from around the state together to spend the day thinking and talking about proficiency-based teaching practice in classrooms, schools and districts. Those conversations go a long way to making the reality of school better for students in Maine.

  2. Our workshop presenters shared their extensive experiences with the knowledge born of having developed and refined what they are doing, all with the humility to see the space for continued growth. They shared ideas to beget more ideas. Here is just a taste of three of the 12 workshops:

  3. District level: Creating your District’s Standards Bank

  4. School level: Structural Changes to Create a Proficiency-based Learning Environment; Involving Parents in the Transition to a Proficiency-based Learning System

  5. Classroom level: Technology Tools for Formative Assessment/Student Engagement; Developing Student Voice in Classroom Expectations

  6. The attendees at the symposium engaged with the workshops to their fullest extent, asking questions that simply can not be answered by anyone who’s not experienced a proficiency-based model of teaching and learning.

  7. Our keynote presenter used the most recent research in the state to turn our attention to practices we have in common and that are positively impacting our students, such as defining learning targets. She also helped us see that in the absence of continuity for interpreting the standards, each district is developing its own path. Creating opportunities like these symposia gives Maine educators a chance to collaborate toward common goals for implementation.

  8. We brought people out of their classrooms and offices to network with one another. This face-to-face networking opens the door for continued conversation between teachers and administrators from across the state.

  9. Five members of the JumpRope Team had the chance to meet and interact with those in attendance. We all agreed that their energy and passion are inspiring and reminds us that hosting more events like this one should be a goal.

  10. And of course, we ate some really delicious food prepared by the RSU 14 cafe staff. They pulled out all the stops with bagels and muffins, salads, sandwiches and soup and cookies to top it all off. Good thinking requires good fuel. We were lucky to have that fuel!

On that note, let me wrap up here with some shout outs to the key players who made the day happen. Our sincere thanks to RSU 14 folks: Chris Howell, Windham High School principal; Christine Hesler, Curriculum Coordinator; Jeanne Riley, Food Services Coordinator and all her staff; and Bob Hickey, Technology Director. Special thanks to Dr. Katie Hawes, Assistant Superintendent of RSU 21 and our keynote speaker; and all our workshop presenters: Randy Crockett, Micah Depper, Amy Engelberger, Caitlin Gunter, Christine Hesler, Helen Hurgin, Walter Kimball, Julie Lefebvre, Sandy Levecque, Jessica Melcher, Rebecca Miller, Corinne Pratt, Patty Raitto, Becca Redman, Kyle Rhoads, Amanda Roy, Ryan Rumsey, AJ Ruth, Meghan Schrader, Kim Weeks, and Bonnie Wiley.

Stay tuned for the next Maine proficiency-based symposium and spread the word. It surely will be a great day of learning!

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