Congrats Amber Chandler!
Additional congrats as well for being recognized as the
2018 EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR by AMLE (Association of Middle Level Educators)!
1. What motivated you to write The Flexible SEL Classroom?
The Flexible SEL Classroom grew from my observations, year after year, that relationships are the spark for learning. Taking the time to get to know my students and finding ways to help them be happy, healthy, and connected human beings has always been important to me, but in some senses I take it as my responsibility to be “their person” because so much of school is test and achievement oriented. I like to clear the path for student success, and those observations and strategies are what you’ll find in the book.
2. From the book, what is your favorite strategy/ piece of advice?
One of the most important things I tell teachers is that students need us to be “their person.” Is it awkward to tell a room of 8th graders you don’t know yet, “I’m here for you, no matter what. I’ll be your person at school”? Yes. But, when students come to you because they know you are compassionate, caring, and will advocate for them, you know you’ve arrived as a mentor—which is so much better than just being on their schedule for a subject that you teach.
3. Tell us one of your favorite stories about a student you’ve worked with.
Just today, I had an awesome experience with a student who has a history of getting suspended, and generally disliking school. We are working on a writing piece called “I Believe” where students explore and share their belief systems. When the bell rang, she let out a huge sigh, and said, “I could stay here all day! I’m so excited about this. I’ve got to get used to being a good student.” I’m so incredibly excited that she is feeling success in my class—maybe for the first time. All it takes is one person who will be your personal cheerleader to change everything.
4. What has been one of the proudest moments of your education career so far?
I’m incredibly proud to have been named The Association for Middle Level Educators (AMLE) 2018 Educator of the Year. It is a huge honor to be recognized as an advocate for students and a leader in my field.
5. Favorite things about being in Education in one word.
Amber Chandler is a National Board Certified middle school teacher in the Frontier Central School District in New York. She is a frequent writer for MiddleWeb, ShareMyLesson, AMLE Magazine, and other educational resources. She is also author of The Flexible ELA Classroom: Practical Tools for Differentiated Instruction in Grades 4–8. Visit her website flexibleclass.com or follow her on Twitter at @MsAmberChandler.