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Middle grades faculty and students present at national conference

Georgia Southern University College of Education faculty and students participated in the annual conference of the Association of Middle Level Education (AMLE) held November 7-9 in Nashville, TN. Middle grades education faculty members and students attended and presented several sessions for middle level educators from across the country. In attendance were Department of Middle Grades and Secondary Education faculty members Betsy Barrow, Ed.D.,  Shelli Casler-Failing, Ph.D., Taylor Norman, Ph.D., Amanda Wall, Ph.D. and undergraduate teacher candidates Jena Abbott, Erika Boyd, and Sydney Rushing.

Abbott and Boyd represented Georgia Southern teacher candidates on a panel titled, “Navigating the Role of Mentor Teacher to Support Future Middle Level Teachers.” Additional panelists included mentor teachers from Georgia, Illinois, and Connecticut, as well as two teacher educators, Wall and a colleague from Ohio. 

Barrow and research assistant Rushing completed a presentation on the College’s international study opportunity completed in Sheffield, England by middle grades teacher candidates. 

Students and faculty attendance was supported by grant funding from the College.

“The AMLE conference was a once in a lifetime experience that could not have happened if it was not for Georgia Southern and the help of a grant from the Dean’s office,” said Abbott. “The conference gave me insight as a future educator that will stay with me forever. This was a great opportunity to create a network with teachers around the country”.  

Boyd added that the support of the College is vital for students to gain these experiences. 

“The AMLE conference was on of the best professional experiences I have ever been a part of,” she said. “I was able to attend meetings and see presentations that are going to help me in the educational field. It was so awesome meeting people from all over the country and collaborating with other teacher candidates.”  

“The AMLE conference inspired me to work harder and push further as an educator,” added Rushing. “The conference was well-organized, the speakers were inspirational, the sessions were educational, and the venue was exemplary. I left feeling so much more prepared on how to become a better educator and effectively connect with my students.”

Faculty also hosted multiple presentations. In addition to her presentation about international study opportunities, Barrow shared her research on the use of PhotoVoice, a European charity that uses photography to promote social change, completed in her middle grades social studies methods course to teach pre-service teachers about civic engagement.

Casler-Failing presented on her experiences with robotics in the classroom. During roundtable sessions, she shared her most recent research investigating pre-service teachers’ development of technological pedagogical content knowledge in regard to robotics in her mathematics methods course as well as “Teaching Math with LEGO Robots,” which analyzes how pre-service teachers develop a growth mindset as they work through productive struggle while learning how to teach with LEGO robotics. 

Barrow, Casler-Failing, and Wall also shared a roundtable session on academic language. 

Norman also presented on inquiry-based classroom strategies for English Language Arts.

The AMLE is an international education association dedicated to the advancement and support of middle level education. Wall serves as a member of AMLE’s Professional Preparation Advisory Committee and the executive council of the National Association of Professors of Middle Level Education.

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