Testimonial is a regular feature of the new IMLA website. This is where we’ll share reflections from IMLA members about what they’ve taken from our conference and implemented in their schools.
The following Testimonial comes from Alison Stark, 7th grade language arts teacher at Eagle Middle School. Alison was awarded the IMLA Region 3A Educator of the Year Award at the 2015 “We Still Believe” Annual Conference.
This was my second time attending the Idaho Middle Level Association conference. I cannot tell you how essential it is to commune with teachers whose common goal is to meet the unique needs of middle school students. Our students are not just younger high school students, and they are not just older elementary students. That is why this professional group is so important. IMLA recognizes that teaching middle school requires educators to address content area needs and developmental needs with equal finesse. Our students require enough academic choice to exercise and experiment with their growing independence. But they also require clear expectations and consequences as they “try out” their identities on the world around them. They need to be taken seriously as much as they need to be goofy. They need to try everything and have a safe place to fail and try again. They need appropriate scaffolding and modeling of complex tasks before they are able to complete them on their own. They need the adults in their lives to be there when they need a hand and to know when to fade into the background. Teaching these ever-changing students does not always come naturally, and it is with the support of colleagues that we learn strategies for educating adolescents, motivating adolescents, and preparing adolescents for the rigors of high school. IMLA is that group that brings us together to learn how to better meet the needs of our kids. It reminds us that the grade level we teach has special demands, and that we–and our students–should be singled out and celebrated! GO MIDDLE SCHOOL!