Testimonial: “Changing America one life at a time

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 Phil Atkinson, 7th and 8th grade math and science teacher at Eagle Middle School.

Atkinson Phil 150I had the pleasure of attending the IMLA conference this year.  Eagle Middle hosted the conference and it was as the kids would say, “Totally Rad!”

As I watched the administration put it together, I realized how much work actually went in to pulling off such a terrific event!  I’m sure by the end of the weekend, our beloved Assistant Principal Micah Doramus, and current IMLA President-Elect, wanted to pull his hair out, but simply put, we all had a blast and appreciated his dedication and tireless efforts to blend humor, education, and comradery all into one fun-filled weekend.

I have always been impressed with the flexibility of the middle school mentality, and how quickly we can adapt to any situation with the poise and confidence of a bungee jumper.  Through tears and laughter I made it through the weekend without any mishaps.  It was really interesting to hear the alarm clock go off at 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning, and come to my school finding as many teachers there around the coffee pot as the day before.  But, the cafeteria was alive with the buzz of interesting comments about the classes from the day before, the sharing of new ideas and stories of games and technology that could improve the learning environment in exciting ways.

I was stunned by the professionalism of my colleagues and the depth of applicable knowledge they brought to the table from around the state.  I learned how to effectively lead my students by diversifying my teaching style through numerous assessment activities.   I found intriguing ways to contribute to the individual learning styles in the classroom.  I brought several ideas back on how to effectively use STEM technology and allow students to be part of the learning process.  Most of all, listening to my peers receive recognition and awards for their amazing contributions, reminded me how fortunate and blessed I am to work in the West Ada School District.  It is full of qualified and dedicated teachers that are truly, “Changing America one life at a time.”   Thank you to all who made this conference a memorable and life changing event.

Testimonial: Go Middle School

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.

Stark Alison 150This 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!

TESTIMONIAL: “COMMUNICATION, RELATIONSHIPS, AND ENERGY”

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 Kim Tiersma, 6th grade Social Studies Teacher at Nampa Christian

As a first time attendee to IMLA last February, I was encouraged by the energetic desire to teach and impact students at the middle school level. It is easy to fall into the repetition of everyday tasks while teaching, but the IMLA conference gave practical and realistic ideas that could be used the next week in my classroom. The ideas from the seminars tied in nicely to the general speakers who were not only entertaining, but challenged those in attendance to communicate better with students by forming respectful relationships and instill the same energetic desire to be life long learners.

Many thanks to Kim for sharing this with us.  We hope you’ll come see us in February and pick up many new ideas and strategies you can implement, as well.  Don’t forget to register!

TESTIMONIAL: “TAUGHT BY TEACHERS”

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 Kim Williams, Teacher at William Thomas Middle School

Many years ago I attended an IMLA conference and a presentation was given on “Learn Ball”. “Learn Ball” is a classroom management technique that I have used ever since.  I have tweaked it to fit my needs and I have passed it on to many other teachers.  It is very effective and it is fun for the students.

IMLA has been the source of many teaching ideas for me throughout the years.  I think we are fortunate in Idaho to be able to attend a conference of such quality geared especially to the middle years age group with which we deal.  I have also been to many National middle school conferences around the country and, although they offer some amazing opportunities and ideas, the consistent quality of our own state conference is superior.

Presenters for IMLA realize what Idaho teachers need and it is because they ARE Idaho teachers themselves!  It is easy, and has always been easy, to stay connected with the presenters at IMLA conferences and continue getting advice and having a dialogue.  Those types of dialogues are invaluable.  And the relationships I have developed with other Idaho educators over time are invaluable as well. IMLA has been one of the very best professional development opportunities I have had access to in my 27 years of teaching in Idaho.
Many thanks to Kim for sharing this with us.  We hope you’ll come see us in February and pick up many new ideas and strategies you can implement, as well.  Don’t forget to register!

 

Testimonial: “Blessings and Excitement”

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 Dani Wilson, 6th grade Reading teacher at Lone Star Middle School.

IMLA is such a great experience! My first year teaching I was blessed with the opportunity of attending the conference and I have been a few times since then. The keynote speakers always share interesting messages and leave me excited to get back to my classroom! It’s also nice getting to meet with other middle school teachers from across the state and hear what strategies they use to engage and build relationships with students. I would recommend IMLA for anyone who works in a middle school!

Many thanks to Dani for sharing this with us.  We hope you’ll come see us in February and pick up many new ideas and strategies you can implement, as well.  Don’t forget to register!

Testimonial: “Rejuvenation”

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 Amber Hickman, teacher at Rocky Mountain Middle School

IMLA was a great experience for me. All the classes that I attended had information that I have used in my classroom this year. One of the things I was looking for was some classroom management ideas for middle school students since I had previously only taught at the high school level. I found just what I was looking for at the conference.  It was also nice to get excited about teaching again in March.

Thank You,

Amber

Many thanks to Amber for sharing this with us.  We hope you’ll come see us in February and pick up many new ideas and strategies you can implement, as well.

Testimonial: “Flex”

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 Zach Dwello, Principal of Nampa Christian Middle School.

Last year at the IMLA conference at Lone Star Middle School, I attended a session about using a “Flex” schedule. A “Flex” schedule is a time during the week where the school tweaks the schedule so that students can break away from the normal aspects of the day and either get extra help or enjoy an activity with their friends. I thought this was an idea that we could implement into our middle school, so I went to our superintendent to discuss our options. After some conversation, we decided to implement a “Flex” day during our Friday advisory. Advisory is a 20 minute period at the end of the day designed to build rapport between students and teachers, provide discussion opportunities, and create more accountability for students.

Our “Flex” day begins when my secretary runs a report that showing which students have a grade lower than 70% in any class. She also runs a report that shows which students have missing or incomplete assignments. If a student’s name is on this list, he/she will go to a specific teacher during the advisory portion of our “Flex” day to get extra help where needed. The students whose names are not on the list are broken into groups to participate in different activities that we plan.

The “Flex” day is working well for a number of reasons. First, it lets students know, on a weekly basis, what assignments they are missing and what class they are struggling in. Second, it allows the student to get extra help from the teacher during the school day. Third, it rewards students who consistently turn in their assignments and keep their grades up. Finally, it motivates students who are in the classroom to get their work done on time so they can socialize with their friends.

The “Flex” day provides a brief reprieve from the academic structure of school. However, it also

provides accountability so that struggling students are not losing, but gaining individualized instruction from the teacher. The “Flex” day has been a great asset to Nampa Christian Middle School.

Way to go IMLA!!

Thank you,

Mr. Zach Dwello

Principal

Nampa Christian Middle School

A big thanks to Zach for sharing this with us.  We hope you’ll share your implementations and successes with us, as well.