Christina Dionne: Striving to Make a Difference

Recently, one of UMF’s alumna was featured on the Mt. Blue Regional School District website for her exemplary work in building relationships with students and individualizing instruction. Christina Dionne, a graduate from UMF’s Secondary Education program, is currently teaching math at Mt. Blue Middle School and taking strides everyday to better herself as an educator and her students as learners.

Christina has always liked math, and she was in the advanced math classes in high school. When she first came to UMF she was an art major, but after her freshman year she changed her major so that she could pursue a career in math. The UMF methods courses that Christina took brought about a passion for teaching in her.

After graduating, Christina took a job as a camp counselor. Two years later, she became the arts and crafts specialist at camp. On her fourth year, Christina was promoted to being a unit leader and was responsible for managing the four groups within her unit, communicating with parents, and organizing activities and field trips. Eventually, Christina took on a job in early childhood, where she was able to understand child development more clearly and gain an understanding of how to better implement a curriculum with a holistic approach. Christina then took on her position at Mt. Blue Middle School.

Christina has expressed her commitment to proficiency-based education, which helped her to earn the respect of administration. Christina puts in very long hours at school, staying late to volunteer with After School Study and immerses herself in her work and her students.

One of Christina’s goals is to develop a proficiency-based program in math and show her students how to track their own progress in comparison with the standards. Christina would like to incorporate a more hands on approach that requires students to solve real-life math problems, and to implement the skills they learn both inside and outside of the classroom. She loves to challenge her students’ critical thinking.

Along with increasing student proficiency, Christina also makes it a point to create a student community in her classroom. Students often work together to learn from one another, build peer relationships, and increase their self esteem. This approach allows Christina to individualize instruction for those who need it while others are working together.

When asked about the challenges that she faces, Christina said that student frustration and behavior can be difficult. Christina tries to understand the cause of the behavior and work with the student to help them solve whatever problem they are facing. She aims to build healthy, valuable relationships with students. Christina also works at getting students interested in math. She uses various techniques, approaches, games, and activities to make learning math more fun and applicable.

Christina is one of many amazing teachers to have come from a UMF Teacher Education Program, and Mt. Blue Middle School and her students are lucky to have her! For more information about the amazing schools and opportunities in the Mt. Blue Regional School District, check out their website!

 

Student Teaching Symposium #CountOnLearning

The final semester of college for most education majors is one of the most anticipated as they finally take on the role as a student teacher. Students are nervous, excited, anxious, and optimistic as they go into their student teaching position. Most students do not know what to expect during student teaching or how to prepare. Chelsey Oliver, UMF Class of 2017, felt the same way, as she would go to the symposium presentations every year looking for one about the student teaching experience. Year after year her searches came up short, so when it was her time to serve as a student teacher she decided to present at symposium about her experience.

Chelsey Oliver just graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington in the spring of 2017. During her final semester as a secondary education mathematics major, Chelsey completed her student teaching at Cony High School and Messalonskee Middle School. While education majors share their student teaching experience through portfolio presentations, Chelsey wanted to go beyond the units, lesson plans, and standards highlighted in portfolio presentations and also focus on the day-to-day experience of being a student teacher in a classroom. “A big part of my philosophy is collaborating with your colleagues, students, and teachers,” said Chelsey, “so this to me was the most exciting presentation I would give.”

Chelsey started her presentation by going over the daily schedule at both schools and comparing them. She touched upon some of the ‘out of the classroom’ components that came with student teaching, such as leaving the house in the morning when it is still dark out and getting home when it was dark out. Chelsey described some of the various programs and blocks in the school day, such as “RAM Time” at Cony High School, which was when teachers could meet one-on-one with students who may need help if they were absent, falling behind, or needed to finish a test. This was a great time for teachers to check-in with their students.

After going over the schedules, Chelsey emphasized the importance of self care and scheduling “me time.” As a teacher, you are constantly planning, grading, teaching, and working even when you are not at school. It is important to take care of yourself, and Chelsey did so by getting fresh air, meal prepping for the week ahead of time, and reflecting on her day.

Chelsey then gave a few classroom management tips, such as having a bin to leave work in for students who were absent. She also discussed making homework meaningful. She found that her students would do their homework, she would give feedback, and they would toss it in the trash. Chelsey then began assigning homework that required the students to talk about their struggles, their mistakes, a conversation they had with her that day, and to just personally reflect. This gave Chelsey a more personal look into her students’ lives as well. Chelsey then discussed technology and how it can be integrated into the classroom. Then, Chelsey touched upon her experience in UMF’s Student MEA (Maine Education Association) and how the various conferences, experiences, and collaborations that she participated in helped her develop as a professional.

 

Finally, Chelsey discussed the benefits of social media and how teachers can learn from each other. There are various Instagram pages, bloggers, and websites where teachers share their lessons, ideas, classroom management tips, and anything else you could imagine. Chelsey has also taken to social media and created a professional Twitter account (@countonlearning) and Instagram page (@countonlearning207) to share her teaching experience.

Chelsey’s student teaching experience was very meaningful to her, especially since she was able to personally share it at her symposium presentation. As the first student to present about their student teaching experience at symposium, she may have started a new trend as other UMF education majors will wish to share their experience as well. Congratulations to Chelsey and the rest of the UMF Class of 2017, and good luck as your begin your teaching career!

Secondary English major Elizabeth Ferry Selected for Prestigious NCAA Program

Our own Secondary English major Elizabeth Ferry recently returned from participating in the elite NCAA &  Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) “So You Want to be a Coach” program. She was one of 70 players across the country,

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Congratulations to UMF’s THREE 2016 Fulbright Scholars!

Caroline will be teaching in Bulgaria!Congratulations to Class of ’15 Secondary Education major Caroline Murphy,  Class of ’14 English/Creative Writing major Kyle Manning and Class of ’16 History major Travis Bent who were selected to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, a highly competitive and prestigious grant program.

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