These are my notes from Jack Berckemeyer‘s opening keynote at the “Middle Level Years Learn-Tech Conference: Creating Connections For Educators Of Middle Level Students” in Doha, Qatar, on October 7, 2011. There is NO way my notes can possibly do justice to Jack’s dynamic, humorous, and engaging presentation style. WOW. This was one of the best keynote presentations I’ve EVER heard. Jack was funnier than most professional comedians, and touched our hearts with his serious stories of how important our relationships with kids are as teachers. If you EVER have a chance to hear Jack speak do NOT miss it! Jack gives Kevin Honeycutt a run for his money as a world-class keynote speaker… He sets an incredibly high bar that was not only a pleasure to experience… it was an inspiration for everyone in the room to enjoy.

I grew up in Libya, and in my middle school years lived in Tehran and attended international school
- I remember growing up in Libya digging in the sand, digging for tanks and artillery shells

I taught in Denver, Colorado
- I was one of those teachers who got a job in the middle of the school year (ask lots of questions if you have a chance to take a mid-year teaching job)

Let’s give our assistant principals and principals a round of applause

Beware when your principal uses the word “unique” to describe kids

Where are our 8th grade teachers? Please stand up and let’s give them a round of applause!

Ever noticed how 6th graders are a lot like pigeons?

Middle school gym teachers learn ice can solve all ailments!

1st priority: we are going to become adult advocates for kids

2nd: you better know the fads, the fashions, the trends and the trends of you clientele
- isn’t it fascinating we don’t talk about those things in our faculty meetings?

How many of you have ever made a current cultural reference to your students?
- and they day, “How did you know that?”

We’re all over 40
- even if you’re under 40, they still think you are over 40

The biggest gap we have in understanding our clientele is with technology

I went to Univ of Northern Colorado in Greeley
I took ET410 where I learned to thread a film projector

Who remembers the filmstrip projector?

Did you ever read the can of the ditto machine? “Do not inhale”

There is no difference between the kids today and the kids of the past: The difference is, you’re sober now!

Think about when Xerox came into our lives… those big machines…

Now kids can get more information from a cell phone than any textbook we have
- But we ban cell phones because they use them for evil!

The interactive white boards today are amazing…

If you are going to teach middle school, you had better think differently about classroom management

The least effective form of classroom management is something we do every day: “Shhhhhhhhhh……”

I learned: if you talk to an inanimate object, middle school kids will listen

A group of middle school teachers would have NEVER created “cooperative learning”

There is nothing wrong with being emotionally unstable in front of middle school kids

The backpack / notebook symphony

We often forget we have the BEST job in the world
- people wait for us unconditionally every single day
- they give you the biggest compliment you’ll ever get after you get back from an absence: You’re better than the sub!

Kids are easy compared to teaching teachers!

Edict #4 when I am ruler of education: No more crappy professional development for teachers in this world
- our best and brightest should be teaching us
- here’s the problem: we can’t go back and teach our colleagues

You are only an expert when you are 50 km away from your own school
- the truth is: you all can do what I do
- you can believe what we believe in: what’s right for this age group

We speak for thousands of middle school students who do not have a voice
- this group needs a voice now than ever
- who is the last group thought of: middle school kids
- that’s a shame, because they are gift which is only given to a few….

There are days I know you’re thinking: If they’re a gift, is there a receipt?

We are truly blessed… every day adolescents wait for us unconditionally…

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  • MK

    totally agree – does a video of the keynote exist?

  • http://wfryer.wpengine.com Wesley Fryer

    There were several people with smartphones out who seemed to be video recording the keynote, but I don’t know if they have posted them. If you find any please link them here. I don’t think QA made a formal recording.

  • Jberckemeyer

    Wow!  This is a great re-cap!  Thanks

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