Dust in the Wind?

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On a recent road trip to NYC for a family wedding, my granddaughter surprised my husband and me when she enthusiastically sang along with the radio an old Kansas tune, Dust in the Wind. She was equally surprised that the song was “so old” that it was popular while we were young adults.

The current status of middle level education seems to be like Dust in the Wind… This was reinforced for me when I took the time to visit all of the links to affiliate members on the NMSA webpage. At first glance, the list of 57 links seems impressive. A deeper look, however, reveals some “dust”.

* Many sites have not been updated in recent months… some in over a year.

* Most sites only offer information on a state or regional conference, awards and provide links to the NMSA site.

* Several belong to the Schools to Watch network and focus primarily on that initiative.

But sifting through the dust, I did find some gems!  The following sites were noteworthy in that they offered something beyond the predictable content and links mentioned above.

Some sites to check out:

CAMLE (Colorado:  offers opportunity for visits to exemplary middle schools where educators can network and observe innovative practices in action.

CLMS (California: offers webinars on hot topics and and middle level leadership academies)

IMLEA (Indiana: Videos featuring Indiana middle schools)

MAMLE (Maine: Links to the Bright Futures Report… but not to this blog?)

MAMSE (Michigan: Offers grants to schools for innovative practices and professional development consultants to schools)

NELMS (New England League of Middle Schools:  By far, the most comprehensive site!)

NAPOMLE (National Association of Professors of Middle Level Education: Interesting information regarding national initiatives such as Schools to Watch and Middle Start)

NZAIMS (New Zealand: Their blog offers a window into the current focus on middle level practices there)

NYSMSA (New York State: Information on New York Middle School Essential Elements of Standards-focused Middle Level Schools and Programs)

TMSA (Texas: A pretty current News page that discusses national and state initiatives)

So what does this say to me?  Middle Level education needs to have a much stronger and more intentional presence on the web.  The message that we put forth must be clearly articulated and focused on what we know is best practice for young adolescents.  It seems that some of the “gems” mentioned above have found the initiative to keep Middle Level education alive and relevant.

Perhaps it is time to do a survey, like the one posted on the Hawaii middle level site last spring (since removed) asking middle level educators in Maine…

Is middle level education still relevant?

If so, how can we tackle the dust and show off our gems???

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2 Responses to “Dust in the Wind?”

  1. Jill Spencer Says:

    Mary,
    I certainly feel middle level education is relevant. Young adolescents still have to navigate the same cognitive, social, physical, and psychological changes as before in a world that has become far more complex. It’s imperative we have teachers & ed techs, counselors, librarians, custodians, secretaries as well as administrators who both like and understand the best ways to help 10-15 year olds learn and achieve. Teaming is still the most powerful organizational feature of the middle grades for addressing each child’s needs. Educational organizations in general now recognize that the whole child needs to be the focus of school programming. Middle grades philosophy has recognized this fact for over 30 years. Yes indeed! Middle level education is still relevant and will continue to evolve in positive ways! We must continue to advocate for Maine’s young adolescents. Thanks for your thought provoking post. Jill

  2. Mary Callan Says:

    I agree that there is so much potential in capturing and broadcasting (like gold dust!) the power of teams!

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