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Middle School Walk & Talk
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Middle School Walk & Talk

Author: Association for Middle Level Education

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A podcast series offering heart, hope, and health to members of our middle school communities. Hosts Phyllis Fagell and Joe Mazza model wellness as they walk and talk while recording each episode. Listeners are encouraged to take a walk, too, as they listen to discussions on self-care, student well-being, school culture, and more. Middle School Walk and Talk is designed to support the concepts found in the book, The Successful Middle School: This We Believe, and is a production of the Association for Middle Level Education. For more information, visit
12 Episodes
What do students have to say about how good they're feeling about school - and overall? How can we foster a sense of belonging for all students in our schools? Phillis and Joe chat with Phillip Marcus, Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Wellness at Chappaqua Central School District. The results of their student voice survey showed some surprising trends that have informed their culture building moving forward. 
As we head back to school, Phyllis and Joe are back! Joined by special guest Annie Murphy Paul, they discuss how to empower students to employ their bodies, spaces, and relationships in the service of intelligent thought and learning. Annie offers a few lessons we all can learn to take better advantage of the world outside our brains to improve the way we think and help our brains reach their full potential. Annie is the author of The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain. 
OMG We Made It!!

OMG We Made It!!


In the last episode of the season, Phyllis and Joe celebrate the end of an unprecedented school year. They talk about how they're wrapping up at their respective schools,  reflections on the past nine months, and plans to recharge for the coming school year. 
Phyllis and Joe enjoy the nice weather as they talk about a range of topics, including:Strategies for effectively transitioning middle schoolers into the summer after this unprecedented year of schoolingWhat are students show us on the surface versus how they're really feeling, and how to support them wholly The impact of burnout and how to finish the year with strength and resiliency 
Special guest Katie Hurley, author of No More Mean Girls, joins Phyllis and Joe as they talk about how to support students who are struggling socially during this year of constant change. 
For students still learning fully virtually, and those with anxiety about returning to the classroom, how can we ease the transition back to in-person school? Phyllis and Joe walk while they talk strategies to help these students effectively return to the classroom. 
Let's Talk About Race

Let's Talk About Race


Middle school students are hungry to know what's happening in the world around them. Amid the recent violence targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S., educators continue to grapple with how to talk about race with students and families. In this episode, Phyllis and Joe discuss the imperative nature of addressing these issues with students and  provide strategies educators can employ to have effective conversations centered around empathy. 
Jessica Lahey, best-selling author of The Gift of Failure, joins Joe and Phyllis as they talk strategies to connect with and engage middle grades students to promote their healthy development. Jessica shares insights from her newest book, The Addiction Inoculation, to help educators understand the roots of substance abuse, identify who is most at risk for addiction, and be empowered with practical steps for prevention. 
Teachers are being vaccinated around the country! This exciting development hopefully points to the return of some pre-COVID normalcy.  But we know that the challenges still loom large as we tackle the emotional, physical, and psychological toll the pandemic has taken on ourselves, our students, and our school communities. In this episode, Joe and Phyllis talk about their own vaccine experiences and how to support our colleagues and our own wellness as we approach the one year mark since school buildings first closed. 
This was  not a normal school week. Educators face the immense challenge of supporting your students as they grapple with yesterday’s riots, even as we collectively continue to endure a school year filled with stress and trauma. We know this will not be easy, as you attempt to process an event with students that many of us are still trying to make sense of ourselves. Phyllis and Joe discuss the events of this past week and share their approaches for supporting students and their school communities. 
Students are facing incredible uncertainty and social disruption this school year. Some may be missing friends and experiencing the fear of missing out while learning remotely.  Others who were still adjusting back into in-person learning are returning to virtual setting in the midst of rising cases. Students’ sense of loneliness or lack of control can have serious deleterious effects on their social and emotional wellbeing and mental health. Joe and Phyllis talk about these challenges and strategies they’ve employed to help students and faculty identify and manage these emotions. 
During a divisive election, it can be challenging to approach this and other political topics with students. Hosts Joe Mazza and Phyllis Fagell discuss strategies to help students process this event, digest information effectively, and develop media literacy skills. 
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