SUSIE HIGHLEY, IMLEA PAST PRESIDENT
Library Media Specialist, Retired
MSD Warren Township
Middle School: The Importance of Sharing Our Stories
by Susie Highley
As a beginning teacher, I remember thinking that each year would become easier. Boy, was I wrong! Recently, though, I have come to the realization that, were that true, my job would have been a lot less interesting. People often ask me, “Why middle school?” I usually tell them that among other things, it is never boring! Not only do the students create a variety of experiences, the staff does too!
Last fall I was able to attend the AMLE Conference in Columbus, Ohio. There is nothing to compare to the atmosphere of thousands of middle level teachers in one place! And, after many years of attending conventions, I was reassured that, yes, I can still learn from these meetings. This particular conference struck me as not being about gimmicks and silver bullets, but rather good pedagogy and relationships. But, I also realized that I have still been able to experience similar quality professional development in our own state.
It is important that we take advantage of the many tools available to us to share best practices, to problem solve some of the common challenges that we face, and to tell the real story of what is going on in our schools: the day-after-day dedication of staff who want to be around adolescents. For many of our students, school is the highlight of their days, and we constantly expand our repertoires to try to meet their needs, academically, socially, and emotionally.
Just as I eagerly anticipate conferences, I always look forward to our IMLEA board meetings. Learning from outstanding educators around the state is so inspiring! I have learned about many innovative programs, academic initiatives, and effective practices from our officers alone. I hope that you, too, will be able to take advantage of this valuable network available to us. You don’t have to attend national conferences to learn from the best. In addition to offering our next state conference September 26, 2016, IMLEA offers opportunities to connect through our district representatives, the administration of the School to Watch Program, generationOnIndiana, plus twitter, Facebook, our website, emails, and our newsletter. We also want to be sure that we are hearing about the great work you are doing so that we can learn from you. Please connect with us, offer suggestions, ask questions, and let us know how our organization can be of assistance; it will only make all of us stronger.
Susie Highley was a library media specialist at Creston Middle School/Intermediate Academy in MSD Warren Township in Indianapolis. A former science teacher, she is also co-author of the book Teaching 2030: What We Must Do for Our Students and Our Public Schools (Teaching College Press, 2011) and was recently published in School Library Connection “Tracking Your Professional Development” (November/December 2015). One of the co-founders of #edcampIndy, you can find her on twitter at @shighley and at various professional development events around the state.
-Susie Highley: firstname.lastname@example.org