Chris Gleason

Chris Gleason

Request Clinician

Retired Band Director
Patrick Marsh Middle School, WI


Chris Gleason is an instrumental music educator at Patrick Marsh Middle School in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. He is the 2017 Wisconsin Teacher of the Year, 2017 and 2022 semi-finalist for the GRAMMY Music Educator Award and the first Wisconsin teacher to be named a finalist for National Teacher of the Year in 50 years. He was recently selected as one of five educators for the prestigious 2022 Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence by the NEA Foundation as well as a Top 50 Finalist for the 2021 Global Teacher Prize sponsored by the Varkey Foundation and UNESCO. Mr. Gleason was selected from 8,000 nominations from 121 countries around the world. He was recently honored with the Wisconsin Badger’s Outstanding Educators Award and the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award from his alma mater, UW-Eau Claire where he earned his BME degree in 1997. Gleason earned his Masters Degree from UW-LaCrosse in 2002 and has taught in the East Troy and the LaCrosse School Districts. Mr. Gleason is a Conn-Selmer Education Clinician.


Mr. Gleason's bands have performed at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin State Capitol Rotunda, the "New Wisconsin Promise Conference", and the 2006 and 2009 Wisconsin State Music Conferences. The Patrick Marsh Middle School Band has commissioned composers in its ComMission Possible Project such as Samuel R. Hazo (Blue and Green Music -2009), Brian Balmages (Sun Cycles – 2012), Michael Sweeney (Particles - 2013), Erik Morales (One Giant Leap - 2014), John Mackey (Lightning Field – 2015), Alex Shapiro (Rock Music- 2016), Brian Balmages (Twittering Machine – 2017), Andrew Boysen Jr (Tales of the Headless Horseman – 2018), Michael Markowski (Drawing Mars - 2019), Erika Svanoe (A Journey In Time - 2020), and Viet Cuong (TBD -2023).


In 1992 Mr. Gleason was selected as the Wisconsin Governor’s Scholar to Interlochen Arts Camp in Interlochen, Michigan. Mr. Gleason has performed professionally at Disneyland, Valleyfair, and the Mall of America. He has been guest conductor of numerous camps and festivals including the Music For All National Band Camp, Tarleton Invitational Band Festival (Texas), National Band Association –Wisconsin Chapter Junior High All-State Band, Tri-State Honors Band, UW-Madison Summer Music Clinic, UW-Milwaukee Honors Band, UW-Whitewater Band Camp and numerous regional honor bands across Wisconsin, California, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota and Mississippi. 


He is the past-chair of the Wisconsin Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance (CMP) Committee, the Wisconsin State Middle Level Honors Band and the Wisconsin State Middle Level Honors Project. He has taught workshops at VanderCook College of Music, the Los Angeles Unified School District in California, The NAfME National In-Service Conference, numerous school districts in the Midwest, and Hong Kong. He has presented clinics at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic as well as the Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin State Music Conventions.


In 2020, he was selected for the Music for All's Advocacy in Action Award as well as the 2019 “50 Directors Who Make A Difference” School Band and Orchestra Magazine Award. He has also been recognized with the UW-La Crosse Distinguished Alumni Award (2017), Melvin F. Pontious Sparks in Music Education Award (2016), Michael G. George Distinguished Service Award (2016) and the Vi Miller Award for Excellence (2013) by Dane Arts and has been featured in the March 2015 Instrumentalist Magazine, and books: Think Like Socrates: Using Questions to Invite Wonder and Empathy Into the Classroom (Shanna Peeples, 2018) and Rehearsing the Middle School Band (Stephen Meyer, 2018). He was a 2018 National LifeChanger of the Year Award nominee. Mr. Gleason is the founder and organizer of the Beyond The Notes Music Festival Inc. in Wisconsin Dells that has to date inspired more than 35,000 young musicians and 70 future music educators.  

Mr. Gleason recently completed his position as Engagement Specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction delivering presentations at universities, school districts and conferences across Wisconsin. Mr. Gleason also assisted TED-Ed with the development and launch of an online course that teaches educators how to identify, record and share their ideas in the form of short, TED-style talks. Mr. Gleason recently presented his own talk at 2019 TEDxOshkosh entitled, “Lighting a Fire in Kids”. He has worked with Teach Plus in a national effort to support Title II funding as well as preventing gun violence in U.S. schools.  Mr. Gleason was selected as a 2018-19 NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellow and recently traveled to South Africa. He currently serves as a mentor on the NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellowship Team. Mr. Gleason is a representative for the Sun Prairie Education Association and a member of the American School Band Directors Association (ASBDA), National Band Association (NBA), Wisconsin Music Educators Association (WMEA), National Association for Music Education (NAfME), National Educators Association (NEA), Wisconsin Educators Association Council (WEAC), Wisconsin Teachers of the Year Network (WTOYN), Wisconsin Bandmasters Association (WBA) and the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY).

A New Take On Grading: The End Of Average


In this session, we will look at the new science of the individual to reveal the remarkable fact that no one is average. This isn’t hollow sloganeering —it’s a frank mathematical fact with practical consequences for your classroom. Our schools are all designed to evaluate and promote talent based upon the myth of the average person that ignores the true nature of individuality. Come learn about three key principles derived from the science of the individual and how they can work to benefit your students.

Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work: The Truth Behind Motivation


Worried about recruitment, retention, and motivating your students? This session will explore the truth behind what motivates people and our students. Do extrinsic rewards and praise work with students? What is the best way to motivate students? Using resources such as Sir Ken Robinson, Alfie Kohn, Teresa Ambile among others, we will discover what research tells us about motivation. We will look at the importance of autonomy, mastery, and purpose and their role in keeping and empowering our students.

Everyone Loves A Good Story: How To Use Storytelling In Your Teaching


Stories have deep meaning in our society. Studies show that students (and adults) listen to and remember the stories we tell. Storytelling can be used in our classrooms to effectively engage our students. Storytelling can also be used to advocate for our discipline and classrooms. This session will reveal the key components to a great narrative and how to construct everything from TED presentations to elevator pitches.

Just Good Teaching - Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance (CMP)


The Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance (CMP) Project began in Wisconsin nearly 40 years ago and has been transforming teachers across the country and internationally ever since. The training process helps music teachers clarify their priorities without losing the essence of their own approach. This session will illustrate the five points of the CMP model – music selection, analysis, outcomes, strategies and assessment. Participants will see examples of CMP teaching plans and student artifacts.

Let’s Change The Assessment Paradigm


This session will define the assessment process and how it differs from evaluation. Examples of outcomes, strategies and assessments will be shared so that participants can see how alignment, validity, and purposefulness can be achieved. New technology makes it possible to create authentic assessment tools that focus on self-reflection. These tools can be used with many students offering an efficient and effective way to gauge growth.

Lighting A Fire In Kids (or Teachers)


2017 National Teacher of the Year Finalist, Chris Gleason shares this powerful and motivational talk in which he explores three “truths” about teaching and learning: intrinsic motivation, curiosity, and connections. As Chris states “We can’t force our students to learn. As educators, it is our job to create the conditions for growth. The seeds of potential lie within each person. Cultivating an environment of possibility will ensure that students and teachers not only succeed but also find their passion.”

Overcoming Fear In Our Classrooms


How has fear and uncertainty impacted you and your teaching recently? You are carrying a lot on your shoulders right now ranging from equity, social justice, recruitment, retention, instructional minutes, engagement, not to mention your own mental health and physical well-being! The goal of this session is to help participants to name the fear that is driving choices made in the classroom and to recenter ourselves on our values, principles and beliefs.

Planning to Make Time


Teachers often hear “make time to plan ” Yes, thoughtful planning takes time (and no teacher has enough!) See how the CMP model actually saves time by helping with time management (getting to all the things you want to teach), creating time for thinking and reflecting, and engaging students to wish their music time was longer. Timing is everything!

The Reflective Practioner: Using The Danielson Framework and Other Resources To Guide Improvement In Our Practice


The Danielson Framework for Teaching is a research-based set of components of instruction, aligned to the INTASC standards, and is currently being used across the country as the foundation of a school/district's mentoring, professional development, and teacher evaluation processes, thus linking all those activities together and helping teachers become more thoughtful practitioners. This session will examine the Danielson Framework and reveal a process for self-improvement to grow and improve our practice.

We Are What We Repeatedly Do; Let's Talk Strategies


With all of the challenges facing educators, it is easy to just use what works and to stop innovating. This session creates the space for educators to reflect on the strategies they use every day and to consider trends, strengths and/or weaknesses. How can we continue to flex our strategy muscles in an effort to engage students while growing as practitioners?

Why We Teach


The landscape of education and politics has certainly changed over the years. Yet, one constant remains - the heart of the teacher. This session will explore and celebrate the reasons why we teach. It will remind us why we entered this noble profession and why our best and brightest should consider joining us. Educators have the responsibility to model passion, persistence, and a love of learning. We must make connections with each and every child, proving to them that they are unconditionally important.

You Are Teaching The Next Neil Armstrong


We are preparing students for a world that we can hardly imagine. The students we are currently teaching will live in a world that will see humans walk on Mars. What skills, knowledge, and dispositions will be necessary to navigate this uncertain future? With all of the challenges facing educators, it is easy to just use what works and to stop innovating. This session creates the space for educators to reflect on the HOW and WHAT we are teaching to the next generation through our discipline.