Happy August! Think October!

IMG_0883We MAMLEs hope you are enjoying this lovely summer we’re having.  The many, many bright sunny days have allowed us to bask in the warmth of  the sun this year. However we know the mornings will soon grow a little chillier, and that’s the signal to switch our brains from play mode to planning our best school year ever.

Add zing to your year by attending the MAMLE Annual Conference on October 20-21st at Point Lookout in Northport. You will…

  • Explore major issues facing every middle grades school.
  • Network with colleagues from across the state to exchange ideas.
  • Experience interactive sessions that provide specific strategies for making learning authentic.
  • Hear two inspirational keynote speakers who, just like us, are in the classroom everyday.

Below is a preview of  Success at the Summit: Moving Middle Level Learners Forward! Register now!

JennThursday keynote: Jennifer Dorman, Maine’s 2015 Teacher of the Year and special education teacher at Skowhegan Region Middle School: “Teacher Leadership: Moving from Good to Influential”

 

 

Penny KittleFriday keynote: Penny Kittle, Author of Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent Readers and teacher at Kennett High School in North Conway, New Hampshire: “You Can’t Hurry Love”

 

Here’s just  a taste of some of the sessions you will have to choose from including sessions on middle level basics, digital learning, literacy, problem solving, STEAM and much more!

  • So You Think You Know Middle Level?
  • Creating Engaged and Courageous Citizens: The Samantha Smith Challenge
  • SPARK Year Two – An Advisory Program with Career Prep Focus
  • Classroom Management Strategies that WORK
  • Classcraft: Turn Your Class into an Epic Adventure
  • Using a Data Protocol to Make Informed Goals/Decisions
  • Book Clubs: Connecting Kids to Books and Each Other
  • Increasing Student Engagement with Text through Close Reading and Text-Dependent Questions
  • Designing Innovative Professional Development
  • What is the Cloud, and How Do I Ride?
  • Designing Innovative Professional Development
  • Engage Students and Enhance Problem-Based Learning with Free Microsoft Tools
  • Using Productive Talk to Build a Culture of Public Reasoning
  • Using STEAM and Proficiency-Based Learning to Engage MS Students in Inquiry-Driven Projects
  • Innovations in Personalized Learning: Fully Knowing, Connecting, and Engaging Young Adolescents
  • Getting Started with ArcGIS Online

Click here to register!

 

 

 

The Kind of Learning We Need

This article was written by Nancy Doda, an international expert in powerful learning for students

Nancy Doda headshop copy 3

At Americans Who Tell The Truth, we are eager to stir the hearts and minds of young people towards caring deeply and acting boldly to make our world a better place. Often such initiatives are reserved for experiences outside school learning. We believe, however, that connecting school and life holds the greatest promise for enhancing student engagement and creating enduring learning. As such we have created The Samantha Smith Challenge to build a bridge between the classroom and the community and show students that no matter what age, they can be part of solving the challenges and problems they see in the world.

The Samantha Smith Challenge (SSC) is named for a young peace activist, Samantha Smith, whose single voice made a positive difference in the world affairs of her time. Samantha entered young adolescence during a critical time in world history when the then Soviet Union and the United States were locked in a cold war. In December 1982, when Samantha was ten years old, she appealed to her mother to help explain this tension. She explained “I asked my mother who would start a war and why. She showed me a news magazine with a story about America and Russia, one that had a picture of the new Russian leader, Yuri Andropov, on the cover. We read it together. It seemed that the people in both Russia and America were worried that the other country would start a nuclear war. It all seemed so dumb to me. I had learned about the awful things that had happened during World War II, so I thought that nobody would ever want to have another war. I told Mom that she should write to Mr. Andropov to find out who was causing all the trouble. She said, ‘Why don’t you write to him?’ So I did.”

samantha_smith_

Samantha wrote that letter and eventually visited the Soviet Union where she launched a peace-making venture that may have in fact helped avert a war. She also brought Russian and American students together to build understanding and appreciation of one another and to focus on building allies and connections instead of armies.

Like Samantha, many young adolescents are ready to ask the hard questions about problems they observe in their lives and the world. Adolescence is a pivotal time in human development. During this period of tremendous growth and change, our students experience significant cognitive, physical, emotional, and moral shifts. Decades ago, developmental psychologist, Erik Erikson declared adolescence an entry into life’s identity crisis. This is the time in life when young people entertain questions like: Who am I? What do I believe in? What matters in my life and in the world? How can I be all I want to be? How can I help others in need? Why do bad things happen to good people?, and so on. In many ways, young adolescents are emerging philosophers, and burgeoning Samaritans as a consequence of their developmental shifts. These important life shifts are so profound that some have argued that who we become between the years of 10-19 shapes the trajectory of who we are in our adult lives. So it is that these “turning point” years offer us a marked chance to stimulate the civic sentiments and caring dispositions we all aspire for young people to acquire as they grow.

Bacteria in Our School

Participation in the SSC can yield many rich educational benefits for students, teachers, and community. The nature of learning that emerges from the SSC is unique because it holds the capacity to engage young adolescents in an empowering entry into real-world issues, as they are asked to identify and investigate an unresolved issue or disturbing problem in their communities. Moreover, it seeks to bring young people into awareness of the persistent issues that challenge others in their communities and in our world.  It aspires to cultivate the natural altruistic dispositions in our young people and help them understand the power of civic participation to make the world a better place.

In particular, students participating in the SSC will develop a broad range of sensibilities, aptitudes, and understandings that reflect traditional academic standards, 21st-century learning outcomes, and social, emotional and civic dispositions. Last year, over 700 middle school students from schools across the state of Maine participated in the Samantha Smith Challenge. In June, at the state capitol, many participating students gathered to share their findings and accomplishments. These students declared this to be the most exciting project of their school year. Many noted they were transformed by what they learned and gratified by what they could do to help resolve the issue they investigated. Students observed that they learned how to conduct real-world research, interface with local officials, and organize evidence in ways that could be shared with others. For many, and most importantly, this was the first time in their schooling they had actually focused on examining a real, local issue or problem in earnest.

Lyman Moore

Educators planning for the SSC rightfully want reassurance that this learning experience will assist them in meeting the CCSS or state standards. As you plan to engage your students in the SSC, it may be helpful to keep in mind that the SSC seeks to meet or exceed many of the CCSS. By its very nature, the challenge addresses what we choose to call “power standards”- standards drawn from a rich bank of standards embedded in the Common Core standards, 21st century Learning, social and emotional literacy, and service learning.

Leonard MSThe nature of the SSC evokes certain standards over others. In particular, most challenge experiences require students:

  • to identify a troublesome social issue or concern,
  • to design and conduct research,
  • to read and comprehend a wide variety of complex, nonfiction text,
  • to interview others,
  • to gather, compile and interpret a wide variety of data,
  • to choose effective ways to organize and represent the data they collect,
  • to write, and speak clearly throughout all phases of the work,
  • to gather data and communicate results through varied media,
  • to use data to persuade others,
  • to rally for action,
  • to interface with diverse people in positive ways,
  • to manage time productively to complete multi-step work,
  • to collaborate with others in all phases of the challenging work,
  • to listen attentively to others,
  • to apply knowledge wisely to generate recommendations for action,
  • to show empathy for others and the difficult circumstances they face,
  • to understand how local citizens can make a difference in their communities,
  • to appreciate the challenges of changing beliefs and practices,
  • to embrace the value of using knowledge to improve lives,
  • to create new and promising solutions to community problems.

These skills and understandings should sound very familiar. As “power standards”, they address career and college readiness, emotional and social health, civic and service preparedness, and the life-long skill set young people need to manage 21st -century living.

Poland2 (1)

 

Participation in the SSC, of course, does more than help our young people meet these many standards. In particular, it brings life into the curriculum. Since real world issues are complex and multidisciplinary, they call on students to draw upon a wide array of content knowledge, to utilize diverse academic and social skills, and to develop social and emotional dispositions often associated with civic and social learning.

Just as many adolescents have the developmental capacity to ask philosophical questions about life and the world, likewise many wonder about the meaning and value of what they are learning in school. Many ask: Why would anyone want to learn this? What does this have to do with anything in the real world? When can I use this? As one middle school student declared in a recent focus group, “We need to learn real stuff about life and not just stuff from the textbook.” Powerful learning demands that we find ways to connect our curriculum to the world and the SSC can help us do just that.

King5

Those who have participated in the Samantha Smith Challenge have repeatedly reminded us that young people are concerned about the welfare of others and our world. Their projects rested on provocative questions such as:

  • What energy source will most sustainably take us into the future?

How can an individual’s choice impact the environment?

  • What is it like to be in poverty and what can we do about it?
  • What can we do to reduce our carbon footprint?
  • What does it mean to eat healthily?
  • How can we educate people about the negative impacts of marine pollution on the York beaches, and get rid of single-use plastic bags?
  • How can we work together in conjunction with the Maine State government to reduce homelessness, hunger, and poverty in our state?

Mental Health-Messalonskee

These sophisticated questions are not extraordinary. Though they often remain at the tacit level in school, when we ask students to share what questions they have about themselves and the world, very powerful questions emerge. Examining the common questions generated from literally hundreds of middle school students in other schools and locations, we can see that when solicited, students ask provocative questions like:

  • When will we clean up the environment?
  • Why do we have hunger in the world when we have so much food?
  • Why do people hate people who are different?
  • What causes grown-ups to be so stressed?
  • Why do we get sick?
  • Why do we fight wars when they are so horrible?
  • Can we cure cancer and other major diseases?
  • Is space really going to be our next home?
  • Why does time fly?
  • What leads to poverty?

When, however, do our students have the chance to dig into any of these questions? When we ask these same students to identify school experiences that help them address similar life questions, they are stumped: “We don’t really deal with life stuff in school,” observed one middle schooler.

At Americans Who Tell The Truth, we believe that life ought to be the stuff of education. We further believe that our young people need multiple and steady opportunities to explore life issues using the knowledge of science, social studies, art, health, language arts and so on. Finally, we believe, and many contemporary conversations echo, that adolescents need to see themselves as active agents of their own learning. The once accepted largely teacher-directed model of learning has finally given way to models in which students are empowered to be in the driver’s seat of learning. Student-centered learning rests on the premise that students should be able to take an active role in determining what they study, how they study it and how they share what they come to learn.

The SSC takes that premise seriously. When young people are truly empowered in a meaningful learning experience that allows them to make a contribution to the welfare of the world, the results can be transformative. Young people come to see school learning as valuable, and they come to see themselves as playing a vital role in the welfare of others. It is our hope that the SSC will be among the most memorable and transformative middle school experiences students will recount and treasure long after they leave us in the middle school.

Leonard & Poster

Register for Annual Conference at 2014 Rates!

It’s the end of the year, but it is not too early to think about next fall!

One of the many spectacular views from Point Lookout.
One of the many spectacular views from Point Lookout.

The MAMLE Annual Conference is October 22 & 23, 2015 at Point Lookout Resort and Conference Center.

Register by June 30, 2015 and Save–Registration fees remain at 2014 rates until the end of June.

Call or Email MAMLE Executive Director Wally Alexander TODAY to save your spot–Send PO later.

wallace_alexander@umit.maine.edu
207-649-1576

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Conference Sponsor
Conference Sponsor

One Student Can Make a Difference!

Lindsay Mahoney from Messalonskee reports how one student took on the Samantha Smith Challenge:
“How can we work together with the Maine Government to reduce homelessness, hunger, and poverty in our state?” That was the essential question for our Samantha Smith challenge. Throughout the research process, we discussed existing programs in Maine such as food stamp assistance, WIC, and SNAP. The “SNAP-Ed” challenge not only fit perfectly with what we were doing, it gave learners another opportunity to take action and make a difference in our community through authentic voice and choice!
Molly
Molly is a young lady who is no stranger to volunteering and providing food to those less fortunate than herself. She also enjoys cooking and experimenting with vegetarian meals for her and her family.
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The SNAP-Ed challenge was open to anyone in the state of Maine, and I could not be more proud that a middle school student accepted and won this challenge! Read more about the challenge and her recipe.
Maine State House
Maine State House
Participants in the Samantha Smith Challenge will be honored June 1, 2015 in the Hall of Flags at the State House in Augusta. First Lady Ann LePage, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, and Sustainable Harvest International founder Florence Reed will join in honoring the students. Over 600 middle grades students from across the state accepted the challenge. Kudos to all of them and their teachers!
Conference Sponsor
Conference Sponsor

MAMLE Exemplary Practice Award

Honor colleagues by nominating them to receive MAMLE’s Exemplary Practice Award. Presented at our annual conference in October, this award recognizes middle level educators in Maine who have designed and implemented powerful programs that engage and challenge their students.  Recent honorees include:

  • A team of educators, community members, and university faculty led by Denise Friant from Woolwich Central School who tackled the invasive European green crab problem threatening the livelihood of local clammers.
Working to save clams from European green crab--Woolwich Central School
Working to save clams from European green crab–Woolwich Central School
  • Central Middle School’s PBIS Intervention Team that developed an approach that overwhelmingly improved the climate and culture in their school.

Central copy

  • Carl Bucciantini’s program at Auburn Middle School that teaches students the power and responsible use of social media by exploring Twitter.
Carl Bucciantini--Exemplary Practice Award Winner-We're  All A'Twitter at Auburn MS
Carl Bucciantini–Exemplary Practice Award Winner-We’re
All A’Twitter at Auburn MS

The deadline for nominations is June 1, 2015 so there is still plenty of time to fill out the nomination form.  You can download it here: exemppractice1.

Who in your school is touching students lives in unique and powerful ways?  Honor them by nominating their program or practice for an Exemplary Practice Award.

 

Conference Sponsor
Conference Sponsor

Annual Conference: Powerful Learning for Young Adolescents

 Powerful Learning for Young Adolescents

October 23-24, 2014

Point Lookout Resort and Conference Center

Northport

One of the many spectacular views from Point Lookout.
One of the many spectacular views from Point Lookout.

 

2014 Conference Program (PDF)

 

What makes an outstanding school for 10-14 year olds? The well – research position paper from the Association for Middle Level Education, This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents lists four essential attributes:
  • Developmentally Responsive: using the nature of young adolescents as the foundation on which all decisions are made.
  • Challenging: recognizing that every student can learn and everyone is held to high expectations.
  • Empowering: providing all students with the knowledge and skills they need to take control of their lives.
  • Equitable: advocating for every student’s right to learn and providing challenging and relevant learning opportunities.
The MAMLE Annual Conference is the perfect time for staff to reflect on the vision for their school and how it is being implemented. It is the only event in Maine that explores the current issues facing schools through the lens of effective teaching and learning for 10-14 year olds as exemplified by the essential attributes outlined in This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents.
Just look at the opportunities at the conference:
For everyone:
  1. Two outstanding keynote speakers: Matt Nelson, MPA Middle Level Principal of the Year and Nancy Doda, international expert on educating young adolescents.
  2. 35 + concurrent sessions on a wide range of topics
For folks interested in STEM:
  1. A STEM Model For Problem Solving – Sara Nason, Sanford Middle School
  2. Make ‘Space Day’ Everyday– Sharon Eggleston, Aerospace Educator
  3. Getting Students to Beg for More Math Time! – Alison Veilleux, Lyman Moore Middle School
  4. Gaming in the Classroom – Suzanne Simmons, Bonny Eagle Middle School
  5. Working to save clams from European green crab--Woolwich Central School
    Working to save clams from European green crab–Woolwich Central School

    Soft Shelled Clam Connections – Denise Friant, Hesper Reith, Edward Striewski, Leanne Fisher Woolwich Central School

  6. STEM Programs Roundtable – Jeff Rodman, Middle School of the Kennebunks
  7. Start Developing iOS and OS X Apps Today! (Double Session D & E) – Maine-based Apple PD Specialists
  8. Moon Unit – Alison England, Adam Bullard, Sonja Schmanska, & Josh McPhail, St. George School
  9. K-12 Outreach – Interactive Civil Engineering – Lauren Swett
STEM projects
STEM projects
  1. The Auburn Land Lab – An Opportunity To Learn Differently – Phil Brookhouse, Auburn School Department
  2. FROM CURIOSITY TO CAREER: Transforming Student Engagement into Career Pathways – Jay Collier, Educate Maine
  3. An Interdisciplinary Approach to Field Marine Science – David Williams, York Middle School
For folks focusing on culture and climate:
  1. Middle Level Theory into Practice – The Troy Howard Middle School Story – Kimberly Buckheit & Students, Troy Howard Middle School; Kelley Littlefield, Ecology Academy Teacher; Chris LaValle, Innovation Academy Teacher; Sarah Wyman, International Academy Teacher
  2. The Power (and Struggles) of Shared Leadership Teams – Mike Muir, Auburn School District
  3. Legacy: Making Education Meaningful Through Service Learning – Shianne Priest & Students, Leonard Middle School
  4. Meeting the Standards in a Restorative Classroom – Celeste Libby, Travis Taylor, Lisa Hall, Ansley Newton and 6th Grade Guidance Counselor, Saco Middle School
  5. Enthusiastic and engaged students at Space Day-Auburn MS
    Enthusiastic and engaged students at Space Day-Auburn MS

    It’s All About Choice… And a Lot of Planning! – Carl Bucciantini, Auburn Middle School

  6. The Fourth “R”-The Power of Relationships in Middle School – Jerry Kiesman, Hermon Middle School
  7. Building Community Through Challenge – Gert Nesin & Todd McKinley, Leonard Middle School
  8. Positive Adults + Positive Interventions = Positive Students – Sheila Underhill; Reuben Fowlow; & Tracy McKay, Central Middle School
  9. The Anatomy of a Successful Parent Night – Ward Willis, Middle School of the Kennebunks
  10. Student Reflecting and Conferencing – Melissa Fenelon, York Middle School
  11. “Ignite the S.P.A.R.K!”~Students Promoting Acts of Random Kindness – Jodie Bennett & Molly Brewer, Medomak Middle School
  12. Brain Breaks for Students – Susan Callahan, Auburn Middle School
For those who literacy throughout the curriculum remains an important topic:
  1. Talking About the Text: Engaging Ways to Boost Comprehension and Understanding — Nancy Doda
  2. Read 180: Increase Student Engagement, Ownership, and Achievement – Tammy Ranger, Skowhegan Area Middle School
  3. A Culture of Collaboration in Writing – Kym Granger, Mt. Ararat Middle School
  4. Allagash Tails and Tales – Tim Caverly, Allagash Tails
  5. Mark Twain
    Mark Twain

    Dual Purposes that Serve the Needs of Both Curriculums… Take a Risk!! – Abby Jacobs & Mike Burke, Westbrook Middle School

  6. Classroom Blogging with Google Apps for Education – Suzanne Simmons, Bonny Eagle Middle School
  7. Creating Visual Notes with Apple MLTI Tools (Apple MLTI Primary Solution) (Double Session D & E) – Maine-based Apple PD Specialists
  8. Writing Power: Creating Authentic Audiences for Student Voices – Joyce Bucciantini, Auburn Middle School
  9. Meeting Literacy Standards in Health and the Other Allied Arts – Strategies to Help Students Excel in Your Class – Doreen Swanholm & Courtney Belolan, Mt. Ararat Middle School
bandFor participants who believe the Allied Arts are an integral part of any outstanding middle grades program:
  1. Recreating Radio Dramas – Barbara Greenstone, Boothbay Region Schools
  2. Empowering Students Through Assessment Techniques and Strategies – Jane Snider, Hancock Grammar School
  3. Tricks and Tips to Help Students Take Really Good Pictures – Jill Spencer, BoomerTECH Adventures
  4. Legacy: Making Education Meaningful Through Service Learning – Shianne Priest & Students, Leonard Middle School
  5. Dual Purposes that Serve the Needs of Both Curriculums… Take a Risk!! – Abby Jacobs & Mike Burke, Westbrook Middle School
  6. Proficiency-Based Education in an Art Class – Gloria Hewett, Mount View Middle School
  7. Dual Purposes that Serve the Needs of Both Curriculums… Take a Risk!! – Abby Jacobs & Mike Burke, Westbrook Middle School
  8. Meeting Literacy Standards in Health and the Other Allied Arts – Strategies to Help Students Excel in Your Class – Doreen Swanholm & Courtney Belolan, Mt. Ararat Middle School
  9. A STEM Model For Problem Solving – Sara Nason, Sanford Middle School
  10. K-12 Outreach – Interactive Civil Engineering – Lauren Swett
  11. Start Developing iOS and OS X Apps Today! (Double Session D & E) – Maine-based Apple PD Specialists
  12. World Language Market – Tad Williams & Ellen Jardine, Middle School of the Kennebunks
For attendees whose interest is personalizing learning and MCL:
  1. Teaching MCL: Beyond the Theory – Erin Hoffses, Presque Isle Middle School
  2. Proficiency-Based Education in an Art Class – Gloria Hewett, Mount View Middle School
  3. Assessment with iPads – Barbara Greenstone, Boothbay Region Schools
  4. May the Force Be With You: Planning for the Unique Needs of Young Adolescents – Lindsay Mahoney & Hope Herrick, Messalonskee Middle School
  5. Metacognition and the Middle Schooler – Andrea Logan, Lake Region Middle School
  6. Back to Basics: How to Create Learning Targets and “I CAN” Statements – Jennifer Etter, York Middle Schools
  7. Motivating Students With Engaging Tasks – Mike Muir, Auburn School District
  8. Customize the Brain – Bill Zima, Mt. Ararat Middle School
Americans who Tell the TruthFor folks who help their students develop a world view:
  1. Hands-On History: The Bangor Community Heritage Project – Ron Bilancia & Pricilla Soucie, William S. Cohen School; Larissa Vigue Picard, Maine Historical Society; Bill Cook, Bangor Public Library
  2. World Language Market – Tad Williams & Ellen Jardine, Middle School of the Kennebunks
  3. TOP’s Turning Points and Timelines! Kids Get Chronology! – Jacqueline Littlefield, Goethe-Institute Washington -Transatlantic Outreach Program
  4. From History to Action, Using the Lessons of the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement to Empower Students – Elizabeth Helitzer, Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine
  5. Models of Courageous Citizenship: Connecting students to themes in social studies, language arts, science and other curriculum areas Connie Carter
Especially for leadership teams and administrators:
Jeff Rodman, President of MAMLE and,John Keane, President Elect
Jeff Rodman, President of MAMLE and John Keane, President Elect
  1. Developing Teacher Expertise – Ben Harris & Mick Roy, Bonny Eagle Middle School and Stacy Penna with Learning Sciences
  2. Apple’s Five Best Practices of Excellent Schools! – (Double Session A & B) – Maine-based Apple PD Specialists
  3. Middle Level Theory into Practice – The Troy Howard Middle School Story – Kimberly Buckheit & Students, Troy Howard Middle School; Kelley Littlefield, Ecology Academy Teacher; Chris LaValle, Innovation Academy Teacher; Sarah Wyman, International Academy Teacher
  4. The Power (and Struggles) of Shared Leadership Teams – Mike Muir, Auburn School District
  5. Making Sense of Chapter 180: Implementing the New Teacher Evaluation System in Two Districts – Bill Zima, Mt. Ararat Middle School & John Keane, Leonard Middle School
  6. The Anatomy of a Successful Parent Night – Ward Willis, Middle School of the Kennebunks
  7. Administrators Roundtable – Jeff Rodman, Middle School of the Kennebunks
  8. Meeting the Standards in a Restorative Classroom – Celeste Libby, Travis Taylor, Lisa Hall, Ansley Newton and 6th Grade Guidance Counselor, Saco Middle School

All of these sessions plus more form the backbone of our conference.  What school wouldn’t benefit from having teachers and administrators participate in such a rich experience?

Registration: https://mainemamle.org/conference/registration/

Full program: https://mainemamle.org/conference/conference-schedule/

Yapp app for mobile devices: http://my.yapp.us/MAMLE

Or contact Wally Alexander:

Phone: (207) 859-1362
Fax: (207) 859-1114
E-mail: Wallace_Alexander@umit.maine.edu

 

 

from the President’s desk…

Jeff Rodman, President of MAMLE
Jeff Rodman, President of MAMLE

It’s late August and once again it’s butterfly season in Maine. No, not the season for any of the more than 55 species of butterflies that inhabit our great state, but the ones that we feel in our stomach as another school year approaches. These are the butterflies that keep us up at night wondering about those first days of school. Will I have a good class? Will the students like me? Am I prepared? Did I remember to zip up my fly?

 

Teaching middle school is a great challenge as each fall enthusiastic, energetic, eager, and well-rested budding adolescents arrive to begin a new school year. The students come to us in all shapes and sizes with a myriad of abilities and needs. They are simple, yet complex. Just when we think we know our students, we find out there is so much more to learn about them. Middle school students are truly a wonderful enigma. As middle school educators, we need to understand what it means to be simple, yet complex. We are lucky to work with them but we have an incredible task that takes great skill, great patience, and great humor.

 

We should expect to bring to our students a firm and professional commitment to their educational, intellectual, and social-emotional well being that will ensure their growth and development toward becoming positive members of our schools and our communities. Teaching is an obligation we have all made. We have all dedicated ourselves to being the best teachers we can be. I am confident we will all succeed in this endeavor. There is so much to be accomplished in all of our schools but there is no better place where it can happen than in our middle schools.

 

As my mother-in-law, who was a great teacher herself, always said, “If you don’t feel a little nervous before the school year starts, it’s time to retire.” This year, I begin my 38th year in education, and thankfully, I guess I’m ready as I’m still feeling the butterflies.

 

I wish you all a successful school year. May it be filled with great learning, great patience, and great laughter.

Sincerely,

Jeff Rodman

Principal, Middle School of the Kennebunks

President, Maine Association for Middle Level Education

As the Year Winds Down…

The end of May and the entire month of June are tough…

  • Teachers are stressed when they compare their curriculum guides to the remaining days left on the school calendar.
  • Principals are trying to figure out how to complete the necessary observations and write up the resulting evals.
  • The students see, feel, and taste the warm weather and want to do anything but school work.
  • Parents juggle one end of the year event after another with work and family obligations.

It can be crazy out there.

Sometimes we all just need to slow down and take a deep breath. Take some think time.

Tom Burton, director of administrative services for Cuyahoga Heights Schools in Ohio, writes a regular column for the AMLE Magazine.  His May article entitled “Polishing Our Sea Glass” reminds us that “reflecting on the year’s successes and failures is not only a good practice, but a necessity if we are to be the best middle level educators we can be.”

Image of a jar full of sea glass
Maine Sea Glass

He also make the point that that “…middle level students are like pieces of sea glass. Sometimes students feel discarded, tossed around during the day with hectic schedules, slammed against the floors, and wondering when they will finally wash ashore.”

Building on the metaphor, Tom continues…”Great teachers and leaders who support true middle level education understand that even the most hardened glass can be polished into a beautiful piece of sea glass.”

So as the year winds down, may we all pause and reflect on shining moments, the humdrum, and the frustrations of the year and begin the cycle of renewal–thinking about next year and how we will continue to serve our students to the best of our abilities.

Educators never stand still; we are always moving forward to the next week, the next semester and the next year. Keep Tom’s closing words in mind, “And moving forward, take the time to recognize the beauty in all your middle level students and to create programs that will allow them to shine like polished pieces of sea glass.”

 

15th Annual Scholar-Leader Dinner

 

Scholar-Leader Dinner
Scholar-Leader Dinner

MAMLE and NELMS partner each year to recognize scholar-leaders from across the state. Participating schools choose two eight graders to honor. The criteria for this award include:

  • Demonstrates Academic Achievement
  • Provides service to classmates and school
  • Is a positive role model for peers
  • Demonstrates integrity, honesty, self-discipline, and courage

Below are images from the 2014 Scholar-Leader banquet held at the Augusta Civic Center on May 15. All of the smiles indicate a enjoyable time was had by all!

MAMLE Board members Lindsay Mahoney and Cathi Wood welcome our honorees.

Lindsay & Cathi
Lindsay & Cathi

The Medway Middle School Jazz Band under the direction of Mrs. Page entertained guests as they found their tables.

Medway Middle School Jazz Band
Medway Middle School Jazz Band
Principal Pray proudly looks on as the Jazz Band warms up!
Principal Pray proudly looks on as the Jazz Band warms up!

Our national anthem was sung a cappella by 4 young women from Medway, and Senator Susan Collins congratulated the honorees via video.

The Star Spangled Banner
The Star Spangled Banner
Senator Susan Collins
Senator Susan Collins

Keynoters

keynoters

There were 66 proud and happy families in attendance!

family5

Family4

family3

3 generations

Mr. Burns takes cares of the the Mt. Ararat table.
Mr. Burns takes cares of the the Mt. Ararat table.

Here are some of the 2014 Scholar Leaders!  Congratulations to all!

award2

award winner4

Award

Award winner2

award winner3

award winner

awardwinner6

We hope to see you next year!