Trends from Association of Middle Level Educators Conference 2017
I'm exhausted, but in a good way--in that way where you've just accomplished an important task, and can finally rest. AMLE this year was amazing for several reasons, but there are some trends that I noticed that I think speak to a bigger shift that is happening.in middle level education. These are the things I noticed:
1) Social Emotional Learning is on everyone's radar, not just mine! The opening session really focused on teaching the whole child, and Kim Campbell (@KidCamp4Kids), Grace Dearborn, Ellen D'Amore (@ellendamore), and Erin Tobul @EllenandErinPCC) set the tone for a conference that seemed to really exemplify the underlying shift from content to child that I'm focusing on in my own classroom and writing.
2) Twitter is normalized. I've been Tweeting from conferences for the last several years, but I've often felt like people might construe my tapping away as rude or distracting, but Tweeting was in full force today. I had a session today on Backchanneling (which is basically the same concept as Tweeting live), and I think it might have been the most successful of my sessions because so many people wanted the "go ahead and Tweet" message and are looking for that engagement, just like our students. I attended Todd Bloch's (@blocht574) session on using Twitter as a way to grow your PLN (professional learning network), and for the first time ever, I was sitting at a table where every single person had a Twitter account. Todd inspired everyone to keep using it, not just at conferences!
3) Successful teaching is about having an arsenal of strategies. I attended Katie Powell's session today on Worksheet Busters and it was truly standing room only. Not only is Katie an amazing presenter, but she also walks the walk as her website full of examples attests. (@Beyond_the_Desk)
4) Fake news, and what we should do about it were both topics of sessions, but also topics that were woven throughout the conference. I was thrilled to be able to meet another of my Twitter friends, Christie Thielin(@cmt215il) and attend her session that she co-taught with a librarian, Denise Reeder (@dreeder1), of course.
5) Authenticity is where it is at. I loved hearing all the ways that teachers are using authentic, real-life problems and projects to engage students. I met Brad Wilson (@dreambition) who is the co-founder and CEO at Write About, a platform that allows students to create organically, share with others, all with a teacher facilitating. Needless to say, I fell in love with this platform over lunch and was setting up my classes this evening. Check it out!
Until next year. . . if you found some new like-minded friends, follow them on Twitter! If you experienced something cool, tell the world. Remember, we are professionals who should be shaping the narrative of what school and learning looks like. Claim your story and tell it.