#MSchat and @AMLE Twitter event 8-14-14 8 pm ET

#MSchat and AMLE are partnering up to bring another splendid Flipped Twitter event to the Twitter-verse, and I would love to have you all to join the conversation.  Much appreciation to Dru Tomlin from AMLE for providing great material for us to chat about and moderating the chat!


Here are the details:

  • What is it? Twitter Event at #mschat about Motivating Students in the Middle Level
  • What else?  Our conversation will be motivated by the “Motivating Students with Teachable Moments” article in the August edition of AMLE Magazine: http://www.amle.org/Portals/0/pdf/amle_magazine/fi/AMLEMag_Aug2014.pdf. In fact, as you can see, the entire AMLE magazine is available for AMLE Associate (FREE!) members. 
  • When?  Thursday, August 14th from 8-9pmET
  • Where? #mschat

Hold it right there David C. Banks!

This morning a friend sends me a link to David C. Bank’s post in the Daily Beast entitled:”Why Middle Schools Should Be Abolished“. I was shocked an educator would write such a thing about any school level, let alone middle school which I hold dear to my heart. As I read the post, David does point out some challenges/needs for educators in the middle level but is focused on throwing out middle schools and combining them with High schools or elementary schools. He missed the opportunity to focus on the students needs and write about the need focus in the middle school level!

Here are a quote from the article really stuck out:

“One challenge is the ill-prepared teacher” – This is very true. Most states don’t have middle school certification programs. Teachers with elementary and high school certifications can all teach in middle school programs. States need to create a third level of certification so teachers are trained to teach this level. This does not mean the students should be lumped in the higher or lower level. I received a master degree in Middle Level Education Programming. All teachers in the middle level need to read “This We Believe” the position paper by the Association for Middle Level Education.


Later in the article David said “A teacher’s ability to relate to his or her students is not icing on the cake of serious academics—I believe it is the whole cake.” I totally agree, middle school is about relationships. (Well all school should be) Where is this not happening? I want to go help these schools become better rather than cut them out of the educational process.

I feel David is pointing out a larger problem that exists in our country today. Many Middle Schools are Middle School by name only. The function more like Junior High Schools. YES, there is a difference. If you read This We Believe, it is clearly spelled out. Middle Schools focus on team teaching. Making sure ALL students educational needs are met. Spending time with curriculum in all areas of learning: Physical, Emotional, Intellectual and Social. Dues to educational budget cuts around the country Middle School programs have been cut drastically.

Our society tends to focus on early intervention and college readiness. School districts feel judged by these programs so have spend the few dollars they have beefing up these programs. In my school district for example we have employed 11 staff members to help out with reading recovery and early reading intervention programs. These staff help the K-3 programs be successful. Our high school also has hired extra staff to help counsel students and prepare them for college success. This leaves funding short to middle level programming which David points out needs improvements.

I feel it is malpractice to propose abolishing an entire level based solely on achievement gaps and personal experience. David have you actually taught in a middle school? Have you read This We Believe? Please do if you haven’t. Don’t throw out the middle level for the reasons you state. It is an important time for our students. Insist that staff is trained properly. Middle Schools that are TRUE middle schools are Highly successful. Just look at the schools to watch list here in Michigan to see some great middle schools at work.

David I charge you to reexamine you post and see the need to make sure all middle schools are TRUE MIDDLE SCHOOLS. We shouldn’t abolish anything.  Hopefully other Middle School bloggers will also take their time to respond to your post and change your mind!


Thoughts on teaching while driving in snow..

During the Polar Vortex’s visit last week, I ventured out to  school on a snow-day, like many teachers working on a day “off”.  As I cautiously crept out of my neighborhood to make the 7 mile drive to school, I quickly realized the intelligence of our superintendent for canceling school. The roads were covered in black ice with sub zero temperatures. Our buses and walkers would have struggled to make it to school safely. Driving slow and cautiously, I turned onto the main road.

Quickly noticing a diverse group of adventurers out on the road. Some speeding along in their four-wheel drives, while others cautiously inching down the road like snails. As a jeep sped by I noticed the driver texting. When, checking my rear-view mirror, I caught a glimpse of the driver on the phone.  Things that might be done under normal weather conditions, but not what I hope to see on the slick roads.

As I passed a couple of cars that had slid off of the side of the road, I began to wonder if driving teachers are going to be evaluated like school teachers. Instead of the driver paying the price of a wreck or receiving points on their license for their actions, their instructor will be marked down or pay the price with their career. OF COURSE this is ridiculous.

But this is what is happening in schools. Our students are like the drivers. Some listen to past instructional advice and proceed with caution. Other take risks and short cuts to get to where they are going on time and arrive safely. And finally there are those that are unlucky, unskilled or take too great a risk and end up wrecked on the side of the road. In all cases the driver is responsible for the end results, not their instructor.

Ultimately the learner is responsible for learning and the teacher is responsible for teaching. When examining the effectiveness of teachers examine their lessons, pedagogy and practice. By examining how well student receive their lessons measures learning which ultimately is the learners responsibility. Great lessons can be taught and the students have the free will to be active learners, passive learners or just be present. Everyone can learn but desire and effort are necessary for it to happen!