Life in the Middle: #ProudMIeducator

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Anytime someone finds out I teach in a middle school, the responses are: “I couldn’t do that!” “You must be a saint!” or “God Bless You and thank you for what you do!”  Being a middle school teacher is a calling that many teachers fall into by chance rather than by choice. Once a teacher spends a year in the middle, they often never want to leave. Middle school students are no longer kids but not quite adults. They are eager sponges with attitudes, never afraid to ask a question in class but too timid to say hi at the grocery store. Teaching in the middle means no two days are the same. We learn to expect the unexpected.

During the past 16 years of teaching middle school, I have worked with the most giving, passionate staff. Teachers arrive early to tutor students in need. As the first bell rings teachers walk the hallways greeting students with smiles and high fives. Most middle school classrooms have wide ranges of student ability levels. Teachers tirelessly prepare to meet their students’ many needs. During lunch, students find refuge from the cafeteria in classrooms where tutoring and camaraderie are offered. When the final bell rings, the teacher’s day is not done, coaching or advising a club is on many teacher’s schedules. Then off to home to grade papers and plan for the next adventurous day in the middle. Middle school days are always full. Full of energy. Full of excitement. Full of Drama. Full of problems. Full of answers. It can be easy to get swallowed up by the middle school schedule. To be successful, a good supply of coffee and a positive support network is needed. I am a proud middle school educator.

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My students are growing physically, emotionally, intellectually and socially. They don’t all grow at the same time or at the same rate. It is a daily challenge to motive a classroom of 32 students growing in 32 different ways. A lesson that works second hour often won’t work third hour. Changing plans on the fly is necessary to meet the many needs in my classroom. Last week I found myself pulling supplies out of a cabinet to do a hands-on activity after students got confused reading about diffraction. Students ended up using a metal cooking tin to make waves bend around a rock.

March is Middle Level Education Month, all middle school teachers should be proud for making a difference in students’ lives daily. It may look different in each classroom but in the end we make students smile, laugh and feel good about learning. Be a Proud Michigan Educator like me. Proud for working hard everyday for our students.

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Image from AMLE.org

#proudMIeducator is a Michigan Department of Education initiative that aims to acknowledge, elevate, and celebrate the work of great educators in the State of Michigan. This is a collaborative venture including any supporters in Michigan who want to celebrate our educators.

Celebrate Proud Michigan Educators – use #proudMIeducator to share your own stories!

Interested in writing a #proudMIeducator blog post or learning more about the campaign? Visit www.michigan.gov/proudMIeducator or contact Alaina Dague at daguea1@michigan.gov.

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#MLEM13 AMLE Twitter event 3-7-13

Tonight I had the honor of being on the panel for an AMLE twitter celebration for Middle Level Education Month. The topic was two-fold: First about celebrating middle level education and Second about collaboration. This was a very well attended and lively chat.

http://storify.com/ToddBloch/mled13-amle-twitter-event-3-7-13

The Panel was:

Todd Bloch @blocht574 : great middle level thinker and supporter who hosts a weekly twitter chat on Thursday nights at 8p.  Hashtag #mschat

·         Summer Howarth @EduSum : a wonderful middle years teacher from Australia who has travelled to the US for professional development and a serious tweeter. http://edusum.edublogs.org/

·         Julie Ramsay  @JulieDRamsay : a prolific tweeter, fifth grade teacher, and Stenhouse author who is really in tune to middle grades   http://juliedramsay.blogspot.com/

·         Todd Williamson @twilliamson15 : tech-savvy director of technology at a school district in North Carolina who has been interviewed about technology integration on Middle Matters for their podcast

·         Rick Wormeli @RickWormeli : nationally and internationally recognized educator and speaker on all matters related to the middle level

and the questions were:

a.       Why should we celebrate the middle level?

b.       How should we (teachers, schools, parents) celebrate the middle level?

c.       How can we involve students in that celebration?

d.       What are some challenges we will face in the middle level?

e.       How can we prepare ourselves and deal with those challenges?

f.        Why is collaboration such an important element in the middle level?

g.       How can we collaborate more effectively –time, technology, etc.?

Middle School Chat Starting Aug 9th 8 pm EST

I have been on actively on twitter as an educator for a little over a year, in this time I have found wonderful connections to educators from around the world. I have found incredible resources and insights from educators of all levels. I value all of the people in my growing PLN. One thing that seems missing is a chat/group dedicated solely to Middle School Issues. So after conversations with members of my PLN and encouragement from my principal. I am going to moderate a #mschat starting August 9th at 8pm. This chat will   be a twice monthly chat focusing on current middle school issues. I hope this will be a time where middle school teachers can share the great things that are going on at their schools and also talk about the challenges of teaching at this level. I look forward to learning and growing with all of the connected educators out there. See you in 2 weeks.