Blog: Milestones

16 Apr 2019

An Amazing PLN

An Amazing PLN

By: Amber Chandler

I've known since I joined Twitter four years ago that the education community, or PLN (professional learning network), is amazing. I don't follow anyone who is not an educator or affiliated with educators, and my main goal when scrolling is to get inspired.

In the last blog, I posed the question, "How can we, as teachers, help middle schoolers navigate the emotional rollercoaster of adolescence?" Wow did @Twitter thought leaders show up with "I got tingles" comments and "I'm not tearing up, you are" feels. I'm going to share several here and propose our next cross-platform conversation.

There were three "threads" that I noticed, knitting together this conversation. First, we have to make space for the social emotional needs of our students in our routines:

Additionally, we must also allow our "normal" routines to be interrupted when "life lessons" happen.

Next, many educators spoke to the need to share our own stories with students and build relationships with them. It can bring out all sorts of feelings of vulnerability. In my class, I never have students do something I'm not willing to. This means we don't do busy work, and it means that if I ask them to share something, I always model that openness. Do I ever feel awkward? You bet. Welcome to middle school! These educators make it clear that relationships matter:

Finally, I was struck by the educators who make a point of "going along for the ride" with their students. Actually showing up and holding space for students who need us is an integral part of the job for many of us:

And, the one that made me tear up because I've had this teacher—and been this teacher because I had a role model of who a teacher can be:

I hope these educators have inspired you as they did me. Crucial to this conversation is the support we receive from each other as we do the difficult work of meeting the social, emotional, and academic needs of our students. Follow #AMLE each month as thoughtful educators engage in conversations that matter. Thanks especially to @teacher2teacher, @sharemylesson, @middleweb, and all the educators who tweeted, shared, and retweeted to keep this dialog going.

For my next blog, I'll be asking: How can we provide closure for our students as the year winds down?

Follow me on Twitter @MsAmberChandler and use #AMLE to share your thoughts, strategies, and inspiring stories, and to grow together as middle level educators.

Published April 2019.

4 comments on article "An Amazing PLN"

This post is amazing! We all know that middle school is an emotional rollercoaster ride, simply because we have experienced it ourselves. I love the idea of "allowing our "normal routines" to be interrupted when "life lessons" happen." This post and the twitter postings really have inspired me and I'm so glad you shared!

5/4/2019 11:15 AM

I like how you talked about how education is not just about the content. It is crucial to be their socially and emotionally for our teens. Many of the examples that you have included in your post show educators that truly exemplify and focus on the well being of the student. Thanks for sharing!

11/29/2019 3:06 PM

The comment about the teacher sitting on the bathroom floor with a crying student is an example of how all teacher should be. We are not just teachers for these students, we are the stability for some of these students. You are a person of safety for them and a person to turn to when they feel there is no one else. Helping them through their changing emotions and physical changes that they do not understand. You are a role model for them and help them know how to handle the things life throws at them.

12/2/2019 1:23 PM

Middle school is an emotional rollercoaster, which is why it is critical that students have a strong relationship with all of their teachers in the school. It is also important for teachers to have relationships with other teachers to bounce ideas off of each other, to support joint curriculum, and to emotionally support the journey that all educators are on.

2/15/2020 11:27 AM

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Amber Chandler

Amber Chandler is an ELA teacher at Frontier Middle School in Hamburg, New York, a recipient of the 2018 AMLE Educator of the Year award, and author of the AMLE/Routledge book The Flexible SEL Classroom. In this blog, Amber examines milestones that make teaching in the middle a truly unique experience, and shares ideas from middle level educators that ensure we reach every student, no matter what it takes. < blog home