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June 19, 2024

Creating Student Connections: Understanding the Fads, Fashion, and Slang

In episode 88 of Teaching Channel Talks, Dr. Wendy Amato sat down with Jack Berckemeyer of the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) to talk about big changes happening in middle school. During this conversation, Jack stressed the importance of middle school teachers connecting with their students during this crucial time in their academic careers.

In this short bonus clip from the conversation, Jack shares a professional development strategy to help teachers of any grade level stay informed about the latest trends, fashion, and slang among students. He also stresses the importance of engaging with students and understanding their cultural context, including social media and popular TV shows, and advises teachers to observe and listen to students during their peer-to-peer interactions to gain valuable insights without needing to ask direct questions.

Reflection Question:
Try out the PD activity mentioned in this video by brainstorming the common characteristics, phrases, or fashions you notice among students of your grade band. Then, reflect on what you know, what you don’t know, and how you can fill in the blanks.

Video Transcript

Dr. Wendy Amato: I’ve got a challenge for you. Let’s just put our heads together. This is a little bit unscripted, but let’s go off the cuff. Let’s offer mid-level educators five strategies for being at least on the curve, not ahead of the curve, but on the curve for fads, fashion, trends, and slang. My, my number one suggestion is always like ask the students.

Jack Berckemeyer: You’re absolutely right. This is so interesting. When I work with a staff or a faculty, there are times I literally get out the old butcher paper, which I know is like the worst thing to do in professional development, you know, it’s like everybody gets out the butcher paper because, Oh, great. We’re going to brainstorm and never use any ideas.

No, what I love to do is draw a typical adolescent and then off to the side, have the teachers write common phrases, things that they say, things that they might wear, you know, In education, it is so fascinating. We are so bound by data. In fact, any school district, right? If you want data, they’ll burp up a binder on anything, right?

It’s like, Oh, how are test scores. And it’s like, Oh, here’s a binder, you know? But when was the last time we actually sat down and said, let’s list the characteristics of our children. How many of you have been called this phrase and you don’t know what it is? Well, here’s what it really means. So Mrs. Jones stopped saying, thank you.

When a kid says that it’s not a compliment. Because again, if you don’t know, and part of that is generational gaps, you know, as kids change, you know, we tend to get to the point where like, do we want to know this stuff? So anything that you can do to share with each other and again, survey the kids, talk to the kids, the other part is.

Is know their culture in regards and this is painful. It’s painful for me to say is that social media stuff that you know to know some of those trends and social media to know some of the shows that they’re actually into and watching to make simple references that at least relate to their generation and it does get harder.

As we become more seasoned teachers. I never say older. I just say we’re more seasoned, you know, which is flavorful. It is, it is. And then I think the ultimate thing that great middle school educators do to stay in tune. It not only except to listen, but I think for me, it was to. Just be an observer. Like when the kids are in the hallway, sometimes it’s great for the teacher not to talk, but just listen.

That is the best thing to do when kids are in groups, just listen. You will hear everything and anything that you want to know about middle school kids. And you don’t even have to ask a question. You just have to not talk and listen and you’ll get tons of information.

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