Blog: Milestones

What Do You Need to Remember for Next Year?

25 Jun 2019

What Do You Need to Remember for Next Year?

Some of you have already finished your school year, so feel free to get all reflective by the pool. Others of us, however, are still finishing up with final exams, packing rooms, submitting grades, and all the other end of the year chaos. For those of you at home—enjoy. For the rest of us—hang tight, we'll be missing these kiddos in a few short weeks!

I'm going to take the opportunity right now to give myself some advice for next year. Every year, at some point, if you are anything like me, you've muttered, "Remind me next year..." followed by something really obvious, like, "Don't give a quiz the day before Thanksgiving Break" or "Remember that it is a notable truth that eighth graders cannot control their impulses and use their phones for a review game without Snapchatting." In hopes that my "remembers" might be more useful, here are three:

  1. Remember, everything takes at least one day—usually two days—more than I plan to do any unit. There's a random snow day, the Monday that I forgot is a holiday and is actually not a teaching day, and of course my own sniffly sneezing kiddos who need me to stay home at some point. If, by some miracle, we finish the entire unit early, there's this amazing new invention called Netflix.
  2. Remember, cringy, silly, and musically embarrassing songs and mnemonics will help students learn. Loosen up. Lots of fabulous teachers sing. Come on. Take a risk Amber. Here are some amazing examples to inspire you. This is great for ENL, this is great for math. and this one for a tour of the states for social studies. Every year I hope I'll do this, but I don't.
  3. Think of a good Halloween costume. Start thinking now. This can be really stressful. Two kids who need creative costumes of their own, 120 students who will judge you (they can't help it), and the pressure is too much. Seriously, remember this one early. Like starting right after the 4th of July. (Minion, as it turns out, is actually pretty great. I might steal the pinball machine idea of my daughter's next year)

These are just a few of the many things I want to remember for next year. There are all kinds of nice, sentimental, and inspiring things too, but did I mention that school's not out yet and things are getting a little harried? Lunches are lacking, I'm wearing jeans by Wednesday, and I seriously spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to sort my students into exam rooms, weighing the merits of "by homeroom" or "by class period," and even entertained, "alphabetically," just to walk on the wild side. If you are curious, "by class period" won. It always does.

My next blog will share some of the gems that you all send to me, and I hope that my thoughts here spark something in you! Follow me @MsAmberChandler and use #AMLE to join our cross-platform conversation. Also, subscribe to this blog to stay up to date on the topics we're discussing. The question this month is: What do you need to remember for next year? Thanks for your contributions!

Published June 2019.

Focusing on #Selfcare

4 Jun 2019

Focusing on #Selfcare

A few weeks ago, I posted across social media about teacher #selfcare habits. Maybe #selfcare is more personal than I expected, or maybe people were just too busy to respond, but I found it interesting that by far the most responses I received to this query across platforms came from my friends, not the typical reactions across my more professional social media like Twitter and LinkedIn.

The #selfcare rituals and pictures I got tell a great story and resonated with me. For example, my friend Shannon, a seventh grade social studies teacher and track coach, posted a quote that spoke to the need to turn our brain off and let go of the stress. The bonus? Healthy lifestyle choices lead to less stress in the first place.

Another friend of mine, Abby, posted pictures of her amazingly photogenic family, and it is clear that spending time with her #MilitelloFunSquad is relaxing, fulfilling, and answers the need for relationships. With three kiddos under six, it is amazing the adventures this family takes. As a mom who has led a similar kid-filled life, I'm reaping the benefits because my 14-year-old still wants to hang out with me. I've been laying that groundwork for years, and I know Abby will too.

On the flipside, my friend Jen practiced #selfcare by relaxing in a space she created just for herself. When we continually give our all to others, it can be hard to carve out space and time for ourselves. Jen has created an awesome corner of the world, replete with an amazing book by Rachel Hollis, her dog, and an aesthetically pleasing place to just relax. I have to admit, this is probably where I'm going next in my #selfcare. I've loved beautifying my back deck, and I aspire to Jen's level!

This need for alone time and space was a thread through so many of the comments. Kathy, whose youngest is an eighth grader and oldest is in college, also spoke to the need for rituals to sustain us. She wrote:

Another friend's #selfcare routine is clearly sacred, and she has set up boundaries and put aside the time for her needs. Lori explains:

All of these women are teachers, all friends of mine, and all at different spots in their career, yet we all need the same things. The theme of space and time that permeated the comments reminded me of my early fascination with Virginia Woolf and this quote:

Perhaps, as teachers, we can adopt this ideal when it comes to #selfcare: we need time, space, and disposable income to meet some of our deepest needs. No wonder I find this so difficult to achieve! #Selfcare requires a level of intentionality and an understanding that when the turbulence hits, we take the advice of the flight attendant and adjust our own masks first, taking care of our own breathing so that we can help others. Thanks for sharing all of these ideas!

Follow me @MsAmberChandler and use #AMLE to join our cross-platform conversation. Also, subscribe to this blog to stay up to date on the topics we're discussing. The question this month is: What do you need to remember for next year? Thanks for your contributions!

Published June 2019.

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