Thursday, February 26, 2015

Came For The Ron Clark, Stayed For The Jack Berckemeyer

A week ago, I attended my first Ohio Middle Level Association State Conference.  To be perfectly honest, I knew I was going to attend this conference six months ago, and it had nothing to do with the conference.  It had everything to do with Ron Clark being the keynote speaker.

Ron Clark is known for his numbered lists, but to me he is about two things:  high expectations for all students and making school fun.  I have been a huge fan of Ron Clark for about five years now and have always wanted to see him in person, and OMLA 2015 was my opportunity to do just that.

Ron Clark was a dynamic speaker, loved his message, and he was about as inspirational as I had imagined.  I just wish he would have handled how he addressed those who were videotaping him a little differently.  I am sure he had his reasons, and I am not in his shoes, but that was kind of a letdown.  But again, great speaker and great message.

The keynote speaker for day two was a man named Jack Berckemeyer.  I will admit, I never heard of him before, but noticed he had quite the crowd in his breakout sessions after the opening keynote.  His keynote on day two of the conference was unbelievable.  He was passionate, funny, engaging, funny, easy to relate to, and, well, you know, funny.  I became a fan very quickly.  If you do not know the value of teaming at the middle school level, his book is a must read.

The rest of the conference was great.  I learned many things, one of which was, I had been missing out by not attending this conference over the past few years.  I would have been a better middle level educator.  I also learned a valuable life lesson, and at 38 I am still learning new life lessons.  Here was my lesson:  give everyone a chance.  Jack Berckemeyer had me hooked within the first 30 seconds.  Had I left after Ron Clark, I would have missed a great deal.

If you are a middle level educator, I would highly encourage you to attend your state or national middle level conference (AMLE national conference is in Columbus, Ohio October 15-17, 2015).

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