Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) Conference
Middle school teachers gathered for a 3-day conference, the largest of its kind for middle school educators, to gain more insight into young adolescent development, social-emotional learning (SEL) as well as to learn about new ways to engage students.
Pono Kahale, Middle School Dean and Math teacher, says, “Middle school students are at a unique stage developmentally. They are just a few years from having played with teddy bears and just a few years away from going to college. They require very specific teaching strategies and also a lot of emotional support.
The AMLE conference emphasized the need for empathy and how to discern when kids are behaving in ways that are developmentally ‘appropriately inappropriate,’ as one presenter put it. In my role as dean, this is an invaluable tool as it helps me understand the source and reason behind different behaviors. Kids at this age are developing a deeper sense of self, eager to make connections with and seek approval from peers, and are also experiencing a lot of physical changes. The conference addressed ways that we can adjust teaching methods and classroom management styles to best correspond to their needs and offer support in this tumultuous time in their lives. For instance, I now try to incorporate more activities that promote connections and also include movement in my lessons to allow students to get out excess energy.
We sometimes start class with check-ins, where students can talk about whatever is on their minds. This lets them know that we care about them as individuals.
The AMLE conference was a great way to connect with other teachers who love to work with this age group and to hear ideas on how best to support them at every level.”