Have you reflected much about school this past year? What are the positives you take away? It is easy to be negative, but what about all the good things you are doing? On the very first episode of Middle School Hallways, we will reflect on this year's school year.
Middle School Hallways Podcast - Episode #1
It is finally here. Thank you for all of the support and those that have liked my Facebook page and I welcome you to the Middle School Hallways podcast!
I am Jeremy Hyler, your host.
It is my hope that this is the beginning of a thriving podcast that can benefit middle school educators and anyone interested in middle school education. I created this podcast to give a voice to the middle level and to discuss all things middle school, not just one subject.
Today, on our inaugural episode, I want to reflect on a difficult school year that faced all middle school stakeholders. Not to complain, but to reflect. What does reflecting look like for you? Do you write things down? Is it something you do in the car on your commute back home from work? Is it a conversation.This is what the episode will focus on today.
Before we dive into this month’s episode, I would like to take some time and introduce who I am exactly. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to know who you are listening to on this podcast?
As I said before, my name is Jeremy Hyler and I have been a middle school teacher in Michigan for the past 20 years. I have taught mostly Language Arts, but I have also taught science, creative writing, current events, and most recently media literacy.
Besides being in the classroom, I have been a leader for the Chippewa River Writing Project since 2010 where I have had opportunities to deliver professional development to teachers from around the state. I came in contact with awesome professionals such as Troy Hicks, Andy Schoenborn, Janet Nayer, Sharon Murchie and many more.
The Writing Project also opened the door for me to present the things I do in my classroom not only at the state level, but national, and world conferences that have been both face-to-face and online.
It also opened up the door for me to co-author 3 books all published by Routledge. The National Writing Project gave me a voice that I thought others really didn’t care to hear, and boy was I wrong. Every teacher, educator, and school professional has a voice and if you have something to say, people want to hear it. So, I encourage you to write that blog post, article, or book that you have been thinking about.
Currently, I am a media literacy innovator for KQED. A community ambassador for NCTE and I have a blog column called Create, Compose, Connect on Middle Web where I post approximately every other month. I have three beautiful children, two who are currently middle school aged. Needless to say, life is busy and very fun. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Okay, enough about me. Let’s reflect on the 20-21 school year. Difficult, ridiculous, exhausting; you choose the descriptor for teaching this year. The one word I keep hearing other educators say is brutal. I would agree, it has been difficult navigating through the landscape of Covid-19 regulations, new discipline issues with proper mask wearing, and possibly new schedules. No matter what the difficulties you have faced personally, or your school has faced, what other areas have you been reflecting on as the school year has either wrapped up for you or is wrapping up. Has it all been negative or are you thinking about how you might change something for next year?
As I mentioned earlier, when you take the time to reflect, what is your process? What are the things you reflect on? Do you always focus on the things that went wrong? What about the positives?
This is a year that can very easily suck us into the abyss of negativity. However, I would like to take a moment and challenge listeners to reflect on a few different areas from this school year. I will share with you what my thinking is and maybe it just might strike something in you to consider after this very different school year that we all faced.
#1 - How has your instructional practices changed permanently for your own middle school classroom?
For example, I know as I continue my teaching career, I will continue to create instructional videos for my students to refer to if they have questions about what we discussed and went over in class. Though they seem time-consuming, they prove to be time savers in the long run when students are asking questions or need you to go over something again, and again, and again (And yes I am laughing and being serious at the same time with that statement). Screencast-O-Matic is a great tool for this that is relatively inexpensive.
#2 - What worked for you this year that you want to continue doing (routines, discipline, structure of class, etc)?
For me, I definitely want to keep teaching media literacy. I was given the unique opportunity to teach 6-8 graders about the Relevance, Accuracy, Bias, and Reliability of all things media whether it was the PSAs, infomercials, memes, or breaking down the different news outlets to study and discuss the bias that can exist. And boy did they have a lot of fun creating public service announcements and infomercials. It has been eye-opening for my young students and they are starting to understand more and more that the landscape of internet sites and social media is not only difficult to navigate, but can pose extreme bias in some cases. I hope to keep educating students about the crucial aspects of media literacy
#3 - Finally, what was a positive you had for this year that you can take away and just take time to sit back and enjoy.
Was it reaching a specific student you thought you would never reach? How about reaching a certain milestone in the number of years you have been on the job of teaching students? Personally, it was the relationship I built with a brand-new group of 6th grade students that I thought I would never reach. By the turn of the new year, they were laughing at my ridiculous jokes and engaging more and more in daily assignments where they had to share their own thoughts. No matter how many times I think about that, I smile and feel good that I made an impact on those students. Also, I may have a chance to see them again next year to continue to build those relationships that got started in room 109 where I teach.
No one can ever say we as teachers had it easy this year. We definitely can’t top healthcare workers in their long and treacherous road, but we have had our own pool of problems to fix and get through. By the way, thank you to all the healthcare workers out there. You have been nothing short of miraculous during this pandemic. Now, as I stated earlier, it is easy to be negative. I will admit there have been many times that I have gone home and just crawled into bed or had that drink or two to just forget the day, but I also had to put myself in check to see what it was that I was doing well and what I could carry into the next school year.
Now, it is your turn to take the time to reflect. Perhaps you make a list or have a productive conversation with a colleague to help you get where you want to be next year. Whatever the process you choose, do what works for you and if it takes more than one day or list that you created, that is fine too. The important thing is that you take time to focus on the good and not always the bad.
Thank you for listening to the very first episode of Middle School Hallways. I will continue to push out new episodes every month to start and if this podcast gains popularity, I will think about creating more episodes more frequently. If there is a topic you would like to hear about on this podcast shoot me an email on [email protected] or shoot me a message on Twitter @jeremybballer. Don’t forget to check out the Facebook page middle school hallways. Like that page to get the transcripts of this show and to find out when the next episode will drop. Any sharing of this podcast is greatly appreciated. Until next time, think about all the great things you do in the classroom or in your school district. With next year looking more “normal”, we can all sit back and take a deep breath this summer and get ourselves in a better frame of mind. Cheers everyone!