In February of 2018, seventeen educators gathered at The Education Cooperative (TEC) in Walpole, Massachusetts. This group would form Cohort 1 of Fuse MA. Among this group was Medfield teacher, Julie Lowerre.
When she began the fellowship, Julie taught fifth grade at the Dale Street School in Medfield. Now, she is the school’s Innovation Integration Specialist. As a fellow, she coached in the Norwood Public Schools.
Here, Julie shares some of her thoughts and memories of the Fuse MA Fellowship.
What are your memories of the fellowship? How did your experience change over the year and a half?
J.L.: My memories mostly have to do with the wonderful connections I made with my fellow Fellows, Highlander members and with the teachers I coached. Having a team that worked well together was critical to the success of our mission. Rachel (Dudley) and Jimmy (Odierna) were not only amazing professionals, but also fun to work with. I will never forget preparation for the district meetings. Many times we were on our computers late at night the week of the meeting collaborating and planning.
I also learned so much from Jill (Milton), who was the fellow at school where I coached, and Ken (Toomey), who was the fellow that came to my school to coach. Lots of great memories talking, sharing and laughing. They helped push my thinking, provided wonderful support and become friends who I know I can continue to bounce ideas off of.
BUT I will never forget the second day of boot camp when we had to do a practice presentation and be evaluated. None of us had any idea what we were doing!! It was daunting to look ahead, and I know I wasn’t the only one questioning the decision to do this. The biggest change would have to be the feeling from that day to the feeling of pride that came from the last day. What a great accomplishment and growth for us all. Going through each step with these amazing people feeling supported and valued certainly helped me be more confident as an educator and also more skilled.
What successes and challenges did you encounter?
J.L.: The biggest successes came from the teachers I coached. They were a group of educators ready and hungry for change. They moved mountains at their school and it was such a rewarding partnership and experience. We grew together. I felt so honored to join their work.
The challenges were always trying to keep up with expectations and being fully prepared for coaching days while keeping my own class running smoothly. Doing both and having additional responsibilities in my district were at times hard to manage.
How has being a Fuse Fellow changed how you approach your current role?
J.L.: I have a new role this year and I have needed many skills that I developed as a Fuse Fellow (leadership, facilitating, coaching). I approached my current role feeling more confident because of all the supported work I completed as a Fellow.
How have you kept the work going? Have you provided any professional development opportunities?
I ran a PD session on playlists with our 5th-grade teachers. I have created and shared social studies playlists with our 4th-grade teachers. I presented at MassCue on blended and personalized learning as it relates to the use of playlists. I am working closely with our reading specialists to create more engaging ways for their students to respond to reading using technology and the makerspace.
What advice do you have for future Fuse MA Fellows?
Keep plugging away. Embrace being out of your comfort zone. You will be amazed at your professional and personal growth at the end.
Ken Toomey, firstname.lastname@example.org
Fuse MA Fellow, Cohort 1
Fuse MA Coordinator
Being a Fuse Fellow involves much more than attending monthly meetings and coaching pilot teachers. So much is learned, discussed, and experienced that fellows feel the need to spread the word!
On October 23 and 24, 2019, educators from around the country gathered at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts to attend the fall conference of MassCUE (Massachusetts Computer Using Educators), co-sponsored by M.A.S.S. (the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents). Following a key-note address, attendees had the opportunity to choose from a large number of workshops geared towards improving the student and teacher experience. Fuse MA was well represented, with many attendees and workshop offerings.
Wednesday found Cohort 1 fellow Julie Lowerre presenting a workshop entitled “Playlists: Properties, Process and Parties.” Also from Cohort 1, Jill Milton presented “Personalized and Blended Learning in the Inclusive Classroom” with Norwood colleagues. From the current Cohort 2, Christine Casali presented “Miss Frizzle Style Field-Trips by Incorporating Virtual Reality into Your Classroom.” Fuse MA Project Manager Meg Smallidge, along with Cohort 1 fellow and Fuse MA Coordinator Ken Toomey, led the workshop “Teachers as Change Agents: The Power of Collaborative Coaching.”
Chris Nardone, also a Cohort 1 fellow, co-presented “Blended Learning Playlists” on Thursday. On the same day, Cohort 2 fellow Maura Condon presented “Are Your Classes Sinking? Let’s Revamp Them with “Personalized Thinking!”
So much knowledge and experience was shared by these Fuse MA fellows! There are many more examples of the great work being done by the cohorts. Keep watching this space for updates.
Ken Toomey. email@example.com
Fuse MA Fellow, Cohort 1
Fuse MA Coordinator