Featured Sessions

Wow! Look at all of the acclaimed middle grades experts that have stopped by the #AMLE20 virtual classroom! These engaging and entertaining sessions are all about topics vital to middle level education. Get the latest research-based strategies and tools while igniting your passion for teaching, leading, and learning.

Jack Berckemeyer

Understanding Adolescents
Being able to figure out the inner workings of adolescents is key to being a great middle school teacher. Come discover helpful teacher tips on how to relate to young adolescents. Share and apply teaching ideas that meet the needs of middle school students. This session will also provide practical ideas to help with classroom management and behavioral issues from structuring your room to methods for getting a class to simmer down. Connect with your students and discover new ways to relate to them that will surely improve learning.

Sponsored By

Taming of the Team
Being on a middle school team can be filled with great joys, struggles, and frustrations. It can also be a trying time for those involved in the meeting. This practical session focuses on the real life issues surrounding teaming. We will provide informative examples to help with effective use of team time and how teams can work together to deal with kids, curriculum, and professional development. You might even laugh at Jack’s descriptions of the characteristics of a team member. Based on the book, Taming of the Team.

Kim Campbell

Transforming the Norm
What if we as educators reimagined what our classrooms could look like, sound like or be like.....In order to help prepare our students for the 21st century we must move away from being the sage on the stage to the guide on the side. We must give our students choice and voice in all that we do in our classrooms. Join me as we look at transforming the norm. Participants will leave with ideas and thoughts about creating a classroom where kids thrive and become better prepared for the future.

Restorative Justice: What is it and how does it work?
What if we truly saw everyone in our school community as valuable humans contributing to the greater good. Join me as we look at how creating a restorative culture can help create an environment where teachers and students thrive. Participants will leave the session with several ideas being implemented in my school in which we are finding tremendous success using restorative justice practices.

Phyllis Fagell

Bringing Out the Best In Middle Schoolers In the Middle of A Pandemic
Phyllis uses stories, her professional experience and research to provide an overview of the phase and bring middle schoolers’ distinct needs to life, particularly now — in the middle of a pandemic. She shares best practices and evidence-based strategies, arming educators with a number of ways to connect with kids, build a positive culture, impart key skills and elicit students’ best work and behavior. She focuses in particular on ten critical skills that educators can help middle schoolers acquire, and why they're so important to teach to this age group.

How educators can help middle schoolers — and themselves! — retain optimism during a year of uncertainty
Phyllis will help participants boost students’ (and their own!) resilience. She will share stories drawn from her experiences as a school counselor and demonstrate concrete, evidence-based strategies that can help children and adults feel a greater sense of agency and belonging, and help them retain optimism during a difficult time.

Sponsored By

Brad Weinstein, Nathan Maynard, and Phyllis Fagell

How to Keep the Small Situations Small (No Matter What School Looks Like)
Many schools are implementing restorative practices, but with mixed results. Like any intervention, no one approach can address every student need. Educators will learn how to proactively improve a school’s culture and climate by augmenting effective restorative practices with meaningful relationship-building, mindfulness and other self-regulation strategies. The presenters will share stories and concrete tips that will help anyone working in a school keep the small problems small.

Sponsored By

Monica Genta

180 Days of Awesome- Celebrating Every Day of Education (Even During a Pandemic)
You are AWESOME and awesome is all around us. Every day you walk into your school or log into your virtual classroom, something amazing is bound to happen. Some days that awesome is easy to see, it comes in the form of laughter, academic progress, achieving goals, and building relationships with kids. Some days that awesome is nearly impossible to see among all the meetings, curriculum changes, displeased parents, and…pandemics. Here is the cool part, focusing on the awesome has the power to turn each day of education into an exciting adventure in learning. Come along with me on this 180 day quest as we learn to focus on those little amazing moments that have the power to change everything. Because sometimes it’s the small things that make the biggest difference!

Cedrick Gray

Why Black Lives Matter Really Matters in Middle School
This session will examine the impact of The BLM movement on educating middle school students of color. This session provides the context around the BLM movement and an examination of how it affects students of color developing through adolescence. Participants will reflect on the historical need for the movement as well as its current context. Participants will also explore strategies to mitigate the traumatic impact of adverse childhood events for middle school students of color.

By the end of the session, participants will be able to answer the following: Why did the BLM Movement start? Why is it important for all middle school students to understand how African American history, including the Movement, impacts their lives? What can middle school educators do to better relate to middle school students of color? What strategies can middle school educators execute to enhance the experience of students of color?

Houston Kraft

A Practical Workshop on Building Relationships - Virtual or Not
Houston has spoken at over 600 schools in person and worked with over 1,000 schools virtually as the co-founder of CharacterStrong. In this fast-paced and immediately useful workshop, Houston will provide you with some meaningful tools to focus on building community and cultivating social and emotional skills whether you are in school virtually or not. You’ll walk away with some new activities, customizable slides, and a renewed excitement for your work.

Andrew McPeak

Stressed Out: How to Help Generation Z Recover from Their Mental Health Crisis
From school assignments and soccer practice, to school shootings and social media; today’s kids are stressed out. For more than a decade, rising levels of anxiety and depression have led Generation Z into what today’s psychologists call an “anxiety epidemic.” In this timely session, we will uncover the greatest sources of stress for Generation Z and provide practical insights and proven techniques for helping them beat stress and take ownership of their life.

Sponsored By

Katie Powell

Lecture Busters: Engaging Ways to Check for Understanding, Virtually or In Person
Given that even most adults can pay attention just minutes at a time, it’s no surprise our students “zone out" sometimes, especially online. Lecture Busters are engaging, challenging, thought-provoking checks for understanding we can use to get students thinking and provide useful feedback to guide our teaching. These Lecture Busters are perfect for both in-person and virtual instruction (or any combination thereof)!

Homework Busters: Handling Grading Without Losing Our Sanity
Keeping up with grading is especially difficult when we're providing instruction the variety of ways required to meet our COVID reality. We find ourselves drowning in keeping up with who has done what and where it's all been turned in. Consider ways to keep the learning going beyond the grade as students analyze their errors, evaluate their learning, and make connections to understand the content far beyond the bounds of the original assignment, WITHOUT grading for hours ourselves.

Dwayne Reed

Helping White Teachers Teach Students of Color
There is nothing wrong with being White! But as 90% of the teaching population, White teachers must fight against their unconscious racial biases and use their privilege to better serve their students of color. Mr. Reed will carefully explain how our country’s racist past is impacting the current state of education, but will leave White teachers with dozens of actionable strategies to help ensure equity abounds for our scholars today

Debbie Silver

Choosing Optimism in Challenging Times
How do teachers maintain their resiliency in today’s fluctuating world of education? Based on her research for the best-selling book, Deliberate Optimism: Reclaiming the Joy in Education, Dr. Debbie Silver helps participants examine how to sustain a positive sense of self through proactive principles of working and living. This session offers tips for finding joy in our work even during uncertain times. Join Debbie for an informative presentation that provides plenty of humor to make the learning fun.

Helping Students THRIVE in an Inequitable World
The pandemic has drawn attention to the fact that we may all be in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat. It is vital that teachers help students sort through the issues involved in this country’s social unrest. Dr. Debbie Silver examines how to incorporate SEL skills such as mindfulness, empathy, perseverance, and gratitude, to help students build self-efficacy and help restore interpersonal relationships. Join Debbie for an informative presentation that provides plenty of humor to make the learning fun.

Sponsored By

Marcia Tate

Teacher Expectations and Student Achievement (TESA)
Over 50 years of research has taught us that you get what you expect. If you don’t expect much from your students, you won’t get much from them! Experience 15 interactions which should be used to convey high expectations to all students. These interactions include calling on everyone, taking a personal interest in them, standing in close proximity, praising their academic work, and complimenting their personal characteristics, as well as remaining cool and calm when correcting misbehavior. When these interactions are used, academic achievement and attendance increase and behavior problems are reduced. This session makes the term social justice operational.

Dru Tomlin

Courageous Construction: Understanding our Students and Building a Great School with the 18 Characteristics in Mind (and Heart)
Students in the middle grades need learning atmospheres--including virtual ones--that respond to their unique needs. But what exactly does a classroom and school built for young adolescent achievement look like, sound like, and feel like? Let’s answer this question by exploring students’ developmental characteristics, key terms, and critical concepts to reach every student--and create a great middle grades school! This session will look at best instructional practices in the middle grades and how middle level leaders can support their teachers as they implement them.

Rick Wormeli

Addressing Concerns about Cheating
The emergency, remote instruction to students working at home this past year amplified teachers’ concerns about students’ cheating, plagiarizing, and parent over-assistance. As we move into the start of classes in the new school year, we’ll need to address the concerns, taking clear, pedagogically sound steps to minimize their occurrence. Join us for a candid and practical look at why students cheat on their school work – some of which may surprise middle school educators, as well as specific steps we can take to minimize that cheating, plagiarizing, and parent over-assistance. We’ll also include suggestions for a school’s constructive response to cheating when it happens. Based on research at the middle school, high school, and university level and the presenter’s own work in schools around the nation and abroad, this session provides a solid foundation for school policy and practice regarding cheating and plagiarizing during this difficult time.

Assessing Student Learning
Teaching is not a "gotcha" enterprise, yet many assessment approaches can fall into that category if we’re not careful. On top of that, we’re challenged currently by what blended or full-time remote instruction means for assessment in our middle schools. Join us for a provocative presentation in which we identify key principles and practices of effective assessment in our classrooms that transfer well to remote instruction. We’ll look at assessment types (formative, summative, common, alternative, pre-) as well as those companion elements so vital to their successful use in student learning: becoming evidentiary, using descriptive feedback, reiteration, disaggregate/reveal story, and more. Inseparable from sound instruction, modern assessment practices are key to instructional design and student success!

Identifying and Bridging Learning Gaps
No doubt about it, we were thrown a curve ball at the end of last year. Now what do we do? Do we just count the last quarter/trimester as a lost marking period of little to no learning? And, how do we know where students are personally and academically so we can proceed with the new material this year? What in the new school year’s curriculum can we afford to let go in order to make room for teaching the leveraging standards from last year that students didn’t learn? And then, how do we respond to the varied readiness levels that sit before us in the new year – tiering? Scaffolding? And where do we find the time to do it all? Join us for a thoughtful look at identifying where students are and what can be put in place to help them – and all of us – get up to speed with their learning.

I have my copy of The Successful Middle School: This We Believe. Now What?
By the time #AMLE20 kicks off, you’ll have received your copy of AMLE’s foundational position paper on the characteristics and attributes of a successful middle school. As you read the text, you may wonder – what next? How do I implement the 18 characteristics in my school, whether as a teacher, administrator, counselor, etc.? Rick provides an overview of how to dig into the text and start to build a school community based on best practices for educating young adolescents.

21st Century Homework Practices that Work
Dealing with homework is a big stress for students, teachers and parents. What is ethical and doable, and what gets in the way of student success? Boost your students' learning and homework completion rate with these highly motivating, applicable homework practices for the modern classroom. Mindful of in-person, hybrid, and remote instruction situations, we’ll look at when to give homework and when not to give it, factors that increase homework meaningfulness and completion, as well how to assess it, how to design developmentally appropriate assignments for diverse students, how much homework to assign and much more. Join us for research-based and insightful ideas from a 41–year classroom veteran that generate inspired efforts by your students. Tonight's assignment? Reserve a spot in this session!

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