The school year is still fresh. Hot sumer days are still fresh on my mind. Building relationships is still the focus in the classroom (Well honestly it always is). One date is creeping up on my calendar, The Annual Conference for the Association of Middle Level Educators. I am excited to connect with other middle level educators who know how to connect with the Fortnite Generation, flipping bottles along side their students as they Dab to their success! The conference is jammed pack full of sessions by teachers sharing methods that work in their classrooms. Here are a few key ideas to remember as you get ready for #AMLE2018 in Orlando.
Slow down– Don’t rush from moment to moment but just live in the moment. It will be over way to fast if you rush. Make all connections meaningful. Learn in the moment and don’t worry about the getting to the next moment.
Use the AMLE App– Everything you need can be found in the APP. Sessions, maps and hand-outs. The AMLE app is designed to make your experience simple. No need to carry around a large program. You can preview sessions and see all materials that will be handed out. Great for before, during and after the conference. I love having access to all the presenter contact info and resources in one handy tool, sure beats looking through all your hand written notes.
Connect– The most valuable experience I have found at conferences is the connections I have made. Sure the presentations are great but it is so much more valuable to be able to discuss teaching practices with others from around the world. I have learned from so many incredible educators I talk to in the hallways at AMLE conferences. Smile, say Hi and invite others to join you. Most attendees are alone looking for others and make connections. We don’t want our students eating alone or feeling left out; let’s make sure educators model this at AMLE.
Share out- Most educators are never lucky enough to attend a national conference. Find ways to share your learning. I blog and tweet during conferences to make my learning visible. Hopefully this is part of your practice. It allows you to reflect on your learning and hold yourself accountable. #AMLE2018 will be a trending hashtag on twitter during the conference, tell your school to follow along.
With AMLE18 only a month away, start planning now. Download the app, pick sessions, make connections. I hope to see you there! Please stop me in the hallways and say Hi, if I don’t first!
Teachers endlessly debate compliance vs engagement. Twitter is full of quick takes on the topic focusing on how students need to be engaged not compliant. Arguments are made that make it seem like compliance is a bad thing in education. Yes, most teachers goal is engagement or a level of empowering students, but without compliance it can never be achieved.
The compliance naysayers often focus on strict classroom management techniques for their examples of compliance. Sit in assigned seats, arranged in rows, be quiet, do everything I say. Does this style of teacher work for today’s learners? Some but probably not too many. Military style compliance classrooms aren’t the norm now (sure seemed to be when I was a child). Many classrooms are moving to flexible seating with a culture of learning as a community. Classrooms do need students to comply with school rules and expectations. Students need to learn the procedures for choosing a seat and when the teachers voice has to be heard. Without simple levels of compliance students will be engaged only in their desires, not the class’s learning targets.
Might the lack of compliance be one of the issues hindering education today? Students are so engaged with social media, sports, Fortnite and their personal agendas that they fail to comply with the educational goals of their school. Lack of compliance is modeled all over in our society. Just turn on the news, everyday their is a story about non-compliance, where someone is engaged in their own agenda.
Successful teachers know the balance that is needed between compliance and engagement. Focusing on classroom procedures and expectations first and then moving to more engagement style tasks once students show they can comply with expectations. Many activities start of as compliance and move towards engagement after students show they can follow the expectations. Many teachers use choral response activities to help model for students how they can learn concepts. Like this one
Students can learn from compliance. Compliance is a skill that every employer desires. Compliance is needed in our society. Education should focus on the balance between compliance and engagement. Without compliance the engagement can be misguided and unfocused!
By all current assessments our school systems needs a make over. Schools have remained stagnate for the past hundred years as humans have rapidly advanced. Schools have failed to keep up with the innovations and advancements that have happened around them. It is time we adapt schools to their surroundings.
Our current school structure is absolute. Our high school students deserve schools without a bell schedule, built more like a modern library or bookstore. Schools need large gathering areas for students to meet, collaborate and socialize. Surrounding the large community space should be smaller gathering rooms and offices for instructors. Instead of having a set schedule of classes set to a bell schedule. Students can work like most offices with a flex schedule, attending labs and lectures as needed. Handing in assignments digitally. Teachers would use their offices to meet with individual students, small meeting rooms for groups projects and a few classrooms to schedule large group instruction. A classroom management system can be used for students to schedule their meeting times with instructors. The building could be open from 7 AM till 7 PM and students would be able to come and go as needed. School should go year round to allow students to keep learning. If students feel they need a break then they can take on, returning when ready to work.
Currently schools function as a holding cell for students while parents are at work. Students currently come and go as they please for doctor’s appointments, vacations sports and when sick. Our current structure is failing our students and families. Students miss so much instruction time, schools need a system that is more flexible allowing students to learn at their own pace with no penalty for absences. In this flexible structure, grade levels would be eliminated. Students would focus on learning standards and receive credit for mastering standards working at their own pace. Students would have the flexibility to pick their learning pathway that focuses on their interests and career paths.
Teachers would be able to create their schedules to fit their daily needs and districts would not need to hire substitute teachers. Classroom management can be handled by asking any students not meeting expectations to go home for the day and return when they are ready to learn.
It is time to create the schools our students deserve, ending the school day care centers we currently run.
I will be presenting at the Michigan Association of Middle School Educators Conference on Monday March 12, 2018. I have gone to MAMSE every year since 2011. I feel every middle level educator in Michigan to try to attend at least once. Yes, I am biased since I am currently president of MAMSE. Our conference focuses on middle level instruction and the needs of middle level teachers. This is a great networking opportunity to meet up with other teachers in the middle. The conference is held in a middle school building with middle school students assisting by introducing speakers and occasionally presenting. This year our host is The Middle School at Parkside in Jackson, MI. MAMSE is a state affiliate of the Association of Middle Level Educators (AMLE) which is the leading provider of support of middle level instruction.
This year I will be presenting on Social Media and Legends of Learning. My presentations are embedded below. Hope to see you Monday.
Since Valentines day and the sad events that happened in Parkland, Florida at Stoneman Douglas High School, schools have been on edge. School safety is a ht topic on the news, radio and in the papers. Our students see how serious adults are around the topic. Many are calling out for attention by making their own threats. It seems like every news cycle we hear a story about teens making threats. When caught voicing their threat of violence whether on social media or in person, the next words authorities hear are “Its a Joke” or “I am Kidding”.
Now days schools have to take every threat seriously. At any word of a potential attack, safety plans are put into place. Police are rushed to the scene. Tensions mount. School violence is not a joking matter. The authorities are using a zero tolerance approach. Still the jokesters are still out there. Each passing week it seems more tomfoolery arises. Students are testing the system, looking to see how the adults will react. Raising the stress levels in schools.
It seems jokes have reached a new level, that similar to the famed MTV show “Jackass”. I am left wondering when jokes became this way. We need to teach our children that jokes are obvious, if we have to tell others its a joke we weren’t funny. Another clue to a jokes is that they create laughter not fear. Has YouTube warped our children’s understanding of humor?
or is something else happening? Has our on demand world, made our students hate the social, community demands of school? Questions to ponder as we seek answers to how to make our schools safe. (and better)
In the meantime could ALL media outlets help our children understand how to make a joke that doesn’t cause fear!
Education is an expensive endeavor. Schools need to be kept modern. Students need the latest technology in their hands to learn and be ready for the careers for tomorrow. Isn’t it time that our education system began acting like a business so many politicians want it to be?
It is time for schools to benefit from their captive audience like movie theaters, sport and concert venues, banks and airlines. Instead of having water fountains, schools can sell water for $4 a bottle. The lockers and bathrooms use will be for a cost $1.00 per day. Lessons will come with paid advertisements from the schools sponsors restaurants and Fortnite seem appropriate. Small Fees will be charged for students to be tested and a larger fee structure for grades issued. Once all these policies are implemented, taxes for the community will be reduced and schools will be able to recruit the brightest and best teachers.
When schools focus on being profitable like businesses everyone wins. These are sound business principals. Airlines, airports and concert venues take advantage of their captive audience by over charging for needs commodities like water. At movie theaters customers pay to see a movie but also see ads that add to the theaters bottom line. Extra fees exist all over the business world. It is time for schools to follow this trend and act like a corporation by find profits everywhere they can. Heck, network television charges cable companies to carry them (fees past to customer) while they charge millions for advertising. When I go down to Comerica Park, I pay $20 for a Little Ceasars Pizza that would cost me $5 at the store by my house. Why haven’t schools realized this potential before? Students have to go to school by law, time for us to capitalize on our captive student audience.
Please read Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” if you don’t understand my satire. It is time to recognize education isn’t a business and needs to be fully funded by taxes.