November Newsletter!

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 3.36.06 PMWe totally forgot to post our early monthly newsletter!  Sorry about that.  (Click the image on the right.)  There’s another one coming soon, but that’s for members only.  Make sure your school is registered as IMLA members in order to receive that second newsletter.  And also don’t forget to register for the 2016 conference in Nampa — the Early Bird registration date runs out on December 11th!

Drastic Changes

Change-AheadAs we said in our last post, we’ve made some radical changes to our conference over the past two years:

  • Last year we moved our conference from a more traditional location to one of our Member Schools.  Not only does this help us retain prominent speakers and leaders in the education realm, but it also keeps us on our home turf, and in places in which we likely feel comfortable.
  • This year, we’ve moved the conference to take place during a longer weekend, so that we can accommodate time with you and other educators across the state, and still allow you to have time with your families and to decompress before heading back to work.

Therefore, we’d like to show you what this year’s schedule looks like:

Friday, February 12 2016

  • 4:00-7:00pm          Registration/ Id pictures and vendors
  • 5:00-6:00pm          Administrators Round Table
  • 6:00-7:00pm          Ice Cream Social-student music
  • 7:00-8:30pm          Keynote
  • 8:30-9:30pm          Staff Dodgeball/Ping Pong Tournament

Saturday, February 13, 2016

  • 7:00-8:30am                    Registration
  • 8:00am                              Breakfast, Region Awards, and Regions 5&6 Spotlight Videos
  • 9:30-10:30am                  Breakout session 1 (8 sessions)
  • 10:30-11:00am                 Vendor Break
  • 11:00am – 12:00om         Hot Topic (4 different speakers)
  • 12:00 -1:00pm                 Lunch/Vendors
  • 1:00-1:45pm                     Region Meetings (board elections if needed)
  • 1:45-2:45pm                     Breakout session 2 (8 sessions)
  • 2:45-3:00pm                    Break and Art Voting
  • 3:00-4:00pm                   Hot Topic (4 sessions)
  • 4:00-4:15pm                    Snack
  • 4:15-6:00pm                    Keynote and State Awards
  • 6:00pm                             Clean Up


Oh, one more thing…first-come, first-served:

logo_brand-HPThe Hampton Inn in Nampa has graciously set aside 15 rooms at the low rate of $99 per night.

This rate is only open to IMLA Members.  If you or your team would like to book a room (or rooms) at that rate, please do so before Jan 28, 2016.

Please Call them at: 208-442-0036


Ready, Set, GO!

source: tableatny
source: tableatny

Every school year is a bit of a race.  At the end of each year, we congratulate each other on a job well done, we hug it out, he wave to those we admire and respect, and to whom we’re thankful came for the game.

And then we leave the field, knowing that the game really isn’t over.  It’s just practice for the next round.

Teachers use their summers to outline new curriculum or materials, or to revise previous work.  They work to learn new materials, read about new practices, and often collaborate with other teachers in an effort to find a new spark or a new idea that will revolutionize their games.

Warm-ups start near the end of summer — the administrative staff as well as the custodial and clerical staff take the field and begin making preparations for incoming students and registration days.  Paperwork and policies are reviewed, printed, an organized to make those events run smoothly.

Everyone comes to a huddle to organize the coming year in a way that betters upon what happened during the previous year.  We sort out new rules and new expectations, and rid ourselves of those things we thought were fantastic, but just didn’t fit our kids.  The entire faculty works to find ways to make school a safe and comfortable environment, that pushes us all to want to do better.  Because the truth is, we all have something to prove: that we can better ourselves and others.

Rallying cries are heard through our cities as signs go up and emails and mailers are sent out calling spectators and participants to the field.

And then they come.

They come in droves.  They come during the day and they come after work, they call at night and they enter information online in an effort to be part of us, to exist alongside us.  Every single one of those kids and parents and siblings and grandparents is part of our team, and we’re there to help them practice for that long race that will excite and challenge them, and will test their every ability to complete.

We’re all at the starting blocks of something we know and which we’ve practiced, but those kids whose feet are at the ready need everything we have to offer in order to help them make it to that finish line as best they can.



Let’s be honest…

letsbehonestWhich of the following have you done with your summer?

  • Emailed a parent
  • Emailed a colleague
  • Visited your school
  • Updated an old assignment/project
  • Thrown out an old assignment/project
  • Had an epiphany
  • Eaten a meal which took more than 30 minutes
  • Redirected a random kid in a store
  • Used the phrase: “What I hear you saying is…”

And for “OTHER”, we’d love to hear about what you’re doing.

Oh, by the way — MEET 2016’s KEYNOTE SPEAKER!

c94c65_13d54af1665f4143beffd9396c9d4c06.jpg_srz_805_433_85_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srzThe Idaho Middle Level Association is proud to announce that Derrick Boles is the Keynote Speaker for our 2016 conference!

Derrick Boles is recognized as a thought leader in human development and organizational behavior. He is known for his expertise in leadership and his authentic learning training models.

Derrick has been recognized as one of the most dynamic speakers in the country. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to support the “Ethos” of any group. Ethos is the fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs or practices of a group or society, any community , business or organization. His innovative approach to developing the individual has earned him National and International recognition.

He has been able to build meaningful and lasting relationships with corporations, educational institutions, civil authority agencies and national youth groups which has earned him the none formal title and respect as a “Leader of Leaders.”

Derrick is a powerful presence and an an amazing speaker, and we can’t wait to have you with us at the 2016 conference to take his message back to your schools.

In the meantime, check out Derrick’s Website and his Facebook page to see what he’s up to.  You can also see our prior post about Derrick’s Work with his Stand Up America program.

Meet Us In the Middle!

As the year is coming to a close, many of us take a focus on the coming year and start preparing for the changes we’d like to make.  Some of us focus on instructional changes we’d like to make, some of us focus on management.  Some focus on curriculum, and some of us make movements to other positions within our schools or other districts.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 4.14.43 PMThe IMLA board members make the same changes as well, and we’d just like to take this moment to emphasize that the IMLA board represents the broad diversity Idaho has to offer. Our board is comprised of teachers, principals, and superintendents for middle school students in public schools, alternative schools, charter schools, and a Christian school representing rural and urban districts across the state of Idaho.  We’re proud to represent all of our member schools and educators as we work to meet the middle across the state of Idaho.

This year we made big changes to our annual Conference, and you’ll see even more surprises we have in store for the 2016 conference.  If you know of schools, teachers, parents, or any educational supporters you think would like to be members of our organization, please have them contact their regional representative for more information.

5 Tips to Avoid Spring Break-down

Only educators truly know that the last week before Spring Break is torture for teachers. Some of it has to do with the nicer weather and the kids’ energy levels, but it’s the teachers that desperately need the break. I firmly believe that the break isn’t for the benefit of the kids, other than to keep them safe. Normally sane and rational teachers turn into monsters that live in the shadows and feast upon the souls and dreams of middle school children. Perhaps that is a little melodramatic…perhaps not.

But it is really the post-Spring Break run that can make or break you as a teacher. Veteran teachers will tell you that there is no harder stretch in education than the April/May run to the end of the year. Gone are the monthly holidays and three-day weekends to break up the stressful schedule. No more “just x more days until y”. There is only one countdown left: how many more “get-ups” before summer vacation.

It’s time to buckle up and ride this roller coaster to the end of the line. Here are five tips to help you avoid derailing:

Reset Your Expectations— A colleague of mine used to give teachers some great advice: “If it wasn’t a big deal in October, don’t make it one in April.” Coming back from Spring Break is a great opportunity to remind students of your expectations. And yes, to explicitly do so. Middle school kids are great at pushing the limits. Your sixth grader aren’t sixth graders anymore. They are seventh graders in training. Spend 20-30 minutes of instructional time covering your expectations and routines and you will see it pay off in the end run.

Look for the Positive— At this point of the year it is easy to focus on Sally’s inability to bring a pencil to class EVERY period. Or the fact that Johnny still loses his binder three times a day. Look past them and you will find joy in everyday life.

This is a great chance for you to connect with some of the students that haven’t gotten your attention for the first three-quarters of the year. Make an effort to talk to the students that are there every single day and always do what you’ve asked. There is a distinct possibility that you are their favorite teacher and you don’t even know it. Let them fill your bucket and remind you that you do make a difference.

Don’t Forget the Parents— Just like spring can make kids and teachers twitchy, parents often suffer from the same symptoms. And if they go untreated, their anxiety grows until they lash out. Be proactive in communicating with parents. Yes, they should know how to check grades on the student portal. Yes, they should know where to find information about your homework on your classroom website. But some still don’t.

Worse, are the ones that have just woken up from a six month coma to see that their beautiful, perfect, innocent angel has a D or F in every class. All of a sudden their child is on fire and screaming at you is the only way to douse the flames. Send parents a quick update email about how to help their child through the last quarter of school. Assure them that you do actually care about their child. Ten minutes of preventive work is better than ten nasty emails and an ugly meeting that turns into a lose/lose situation for the student.

Family First— As educators we are notorious for sacrificing for our students. By the time you come home from work and remember that you have children of your own that you have neglected in preparing for the week’s lessons enough to fix them a meal that consists of something more than mac n’ cheese and hotdogs, you then remember you have a spouse that you haven’t seen awake since Spring Break. Stack in the laundry, yard work, the class you needed to take for recertification, etc. it is easy to put your family relationships at the bottom of a long list.

Find ways to balance family time:

  1. Dedicate one night a week for date-night with your spouse. It is important that you have that time to stay grounded in your relationship.
  2. Spend time with your kids during the daylight hours. Even if it is taking them to their spring sports practices, being present matters. Grading papers can wait until they’re in bed.
  3. Don’t stay at work past 5pm. Regardless, if you cook dinner or not, it is important to eat as a family. Talk with your kids and spouse about their day.

Find Time for Sunshine— The simple cure for being stuck in a classroom all day throughout the winter? SUNSHINE!! Forget the recent studies on Vitamin D deficiency. We all know that sunshine and fresh air can do wonders to keep us healthy and positive. Spring in Idaho can be a challenge—wind, rain, snow, sun, etc. Take advantage of the sunshine to relax in your own way: training for your next 5k, watching your kids’ baseball games, reading a book on the deck with your beverage of choice, etc.

Soak up the sunshine and before you know it summer will be upon you. And then “vacation” can start. But that’s another article.

Looking ahead

Thanks for the great conference everyone!  And special thanks to Cynthia Tobias and all of our presenters and vendors.

Stay tuned to this page for follow-up photos from the conference, as well as some special treats only available to IMLA members.

But don’t think we’re going anywhere until next year — we’ll be updating this page with links to resources, research, videos and more until next year’s conference.  That said: here’s a little teaser to get you jazzed up for 2016’s conference at Lone Star Middle School in Nampa.  The title of the conference is “The Power to Change”


IMLA circle Round TableWe’ve updated our registration info page with a link to attend the Round Table session with Randy Jensen and Jeffrey Reed.

One cool thing about the Round Table Session is that you don’t need to attend the full conference to participate — it’s its own mini-conference, wherein you’ll get the opportunity to hear from two wonderful Idaho educators who will discuss leadership trends and topics in middle level education in Idaho.

Registration for this seminar includes dinner. This event is open to non-IMLA members as well as people not attending the annual conference Feb 27-28th.