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2023 Dates: March 5-7, 2023 | Hilton Austin Airport

Feb. 27 - Mar. 1, 2022 | Hilton Austin Airport

The 6th Annual Making Middle School Matter Symposium is open to all middle grades administrators and educators and will focus on research-proven practices that can be implemented school-wide. The symposium will feature a range of keynotes and breakout sessions. Unlike other professional development events or conferences, this program will draw content solely from high-quality research and translate that research into practical knowledge bites so that practices and strategies can be replicated in schools and classrooms. Register now for this great training!

REGISTER NOW » Early Bird Registration Fee:  $280 through February 11, 2022; After February 11 registration is $330

PROGRAM » View Full Schedule and Descriptions

RESERVE A ROOM » Hilton Austin Airport - $163/night - SORRY OUR TASSP ROOM BLOCK PRICE IS FULL! 
Here are some additional hotels nearby:

  • Hyatt Place Austin Airport »
  • Hilton Garden Inn Austin Airport »
  • Courtyard by Marriott Austin Airport »

  • Jack Berckemeyer | Justin Richardson | Jeff Butler | Rick Wormeli | Sean Cain
    Christy Murray | David Waldherr | John Fessenden | Dr. Tricia Tsang | Philip Capin
  • Presentations from Award-Winning Texas Schools to Watch Middle-Level Campuses.

The MMSM Symposium offers:

  • Research-proven practices that can be implemented school-wide
  • Outstanding keynotes and breakout sessions
  • A conference focused on the middle-level
  • Cutting edge presentations from some of the best middle-level practitioners
  • Strategies suited for current situations faced by teachers and administrators
  • Demonstrations from Texas School to Watch model campuses
  • Outstanding research-based strategies to support middle level instruction
  • The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk

This will be three days of dynamic and practical learning that you will be able to implement at your campus immediately. More details and schedule to come! Reserve your spot today and Register Now!


Sunday, February 27, 2022
10:00 AM – 4:30 PM  |  Registration
1:00 PM – 2:15 PM  |  Opening General Session: Jack Berckemeyer - Deliberate Optimism-Reclaiming the Joy in Education
This session is all about how teachers and school leaders can rekindle their individual and collective enthusiasm for a profession that has been progressively inundated with negativity. This is a fact-based, positive approach to "taking back the teaching profession." Be prepared to learn, to laugh, and to leave with a renewed sense of purpose.

2:30 PM – 3:45 PM  |  Breakout Sessions: Set 1
  • Jack Berckemeyer: Breakout Session: 20 Things That Make a Great Classroom
This rapid-fire Session outlines 20 things that make a great classroom. Idea from management, organization, and design of the classroom will be shared. Information on what motivates students will also be shared. Who knows, you might figure out a new way to make some classroom changes. Fun and informative!
  • Christy Murray: 10 Key Vocabulary Practices for Middle Schools
Vocabulary instruction matters, especially when students have significant knowledge gaps! This session will highlight the 10 key vocabulary practices all middle schools should use, as supported by high-quality research. Participants will learn specific vocabulary practices and receive tools they can incorporate into their instruction immediately. Appropriate for ELA, science, history, and even math.
  • David Waldherr: Do More With Less. A Vision For Middle School Accelerated Recovery
Your schools and student programs need help with learning leaps and accelerated student learning but the amount of skills gaps might seem overwhelming. The Forgotten Middle Study says if students are not at level by the time they reach 9th grade for Career and College Readiness, they might never catch up. In 45-minutes you can re-establish data-driven instruction, teacher agency -- the connection between instruction and student impact, and students feeling like they belong in the classroom and want to accelerate their learning. This session will address how teachers can be certain of what students have learned, what they do not know, and how to get them to the next best level without added stress, overwhelming data and massive amounts of curriculum.
  • Sean Cain: Grades in the Post-Closure School: Out With the Old, In With the Effective
Let’s be honest, grades weren’t working pre-pandemic. They are even less effective now. Learn how to modify campus grading procedures to significantly increase student effort, dramatically improve overall student performance, make life easier for teachers, and make more parents happy, all while adhering to the typical district’s grading policies. If you think this is too good to be true, then you can’t miss this session. Aligned with The Fundamental 5.
  • John Fessenden: Accountability for Leaders: Looking Ahead
After a 2-year respite, accountability returns this year. In this session we will explore what the system will look like for the 2021-22 school year, focusing especially on the role Academic Growth can play in determining the rating of a middle school campus. We will also take a brief look at the 2022-23 school year – which will include significant changes to both assessment (the introduction of the STAAR 2.0 online assessment) and accountability (the re-design of the system).

4:00 PM – 5:15 PM  |  Breakout Sessions: Set 2 (A repeat of Set 1)
Dinner on Your Own

Monday, February 28, 2022
8:00 AM – 4:00 PM  |  Registration Open
8:00 AM – 4:00 PM  |  Exhibits Open - Visit With Our Partners!
8:00 AM – 8:45 AM  |  Continental Breakfast
9:00 AM – 10:15 AM  |  Morning General Session: Justin Richardson - Leadership Jazz! 
What an incredible time to be a leader! It’s like we’re all jazz musicians! The foundation of jazz music is an artful mix of rhythm and improvisation. Can you relate? Just when you find your rhythm, it’s time to improv! Familiar and unpredictable at the same time. Leadership jazz requires a soulful purpose, confidence in those around you, and trust in yourself. Whether this year feels like a tangled mess of musical notes or a timeless masterpiece – just keep leading.
10:15 AM – 10:30 AM  |  Break & Visit Exhibits

10:30 AM – 11:45AM  |  Breakout Sessions: Set 3
  • Justin Richardson: P!ay and Debate: Encouraging Discourse Among Students
Leverage low prep, high impact strategies to create relationships among student that encourage discourse. Leave this session ready to support teachers with tools they can use immediately in class to increase rigor and engagement.
  • Dr. Tricia Tsang: Stealth SEL and The Fundamental 5
Teachers have too much to accomplish in the time allotted. Cover content, deliver high quality instruction, maintain hygiene protocols, and meet student EMOTIONAL HEALTH NEEDS... in 45 minutes. Impossible! Or is it? Join Dr. Tsang to learn how to manage a classroom and implement a body of FUNDAMENTAL practice that double and triple dips every action. Aligned with The Fundamental 5
  • Philip Capin: Moving the Needle with Struggling Readers in the Middle School Grades
To be successful, secondary struggling readers require high-quality instruction in every class, every day. In this presentation, Dr. Phil Capin will discuss instructional practices that can be used across instructional classes to maximize learning for secondary struggling readers, as well as the key elements to teach during intensive interventions for secondary struggling readers.
  • Jeff Butler: People Are Different- So what? How Do We Work Together?
Never before in the past 100 years has there been as much division in the media that influences the working world. However, regardless of the division, political, cultural, vaccination stance, socioeconomic, things still need to get done at work. So the question is, how do we put aside our differences in the workplace when the outside world is polarizing issues? In this program, Jeff Butler will dissect what it takes to unify a team to help them reach their productivity potential but also operate in an agile way to stay relevant with the exponentially changing working world. This program is not about singing ‘Kumbaya’ with coworkers, but a detailed look at what the top leaders do to help their team’s move past differences and focus on what needs to be done.
• Rick Wormeli: Insights and Tools for Constructive Conversations on Race, Bias, Sexual Orientation, CRT, Religious Differences, and Other Difficult Topics
Session Description TBA

Lunch on Your Own & Visit Exhibits
1:30 PM – 2:45 PM  |  Breakout Sessions: Set 4 (A repeat of Set 3 above)
3:00 PM – 4:15 PM  |  Afternoon General Session: Rick Wormeli - Brave Together
Dinner on Your Own

Tuesday, March 1, 2022
7:15 AM – 8:00 AM  |  Continental Breakfast
8:15 AM – 9:00 AM  |  Schools to Watch Demonstrations (Session 1)
  • Collyville MS / Dr. David Arencibia, Principal
  • Bondy MS / Roneka Lee, Principal
  • South Texas Prep Academy / Ana Castro, Principal
  • Lanier MS / Margaret Meadows Principal
  • B.L. Gray MS / Juan Heredia, Principal

9:15 AM – 10:00 AM  |  Schools To Watch Demonstrations (Repeat of Session 1)

10:15 AM – 11:30 AM  |  Closing General Session: Jeff Butler - How Technology is Changing the World of Teaching and What Can We Do About It?
Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard to put down your phone when you are trying to focus on something? Well, there are hidden psychological effects that technology is having on our brains where current day studies show that smartphone users are developing serious problems. These impacts can range from how we learn to how we can relate to one another. However, on the opposite of the technology coin, there are irrefutably positive changes that technology bringing into the world. Never before have educators have been positioned where they can impact more lives, more effectively, but in a more challenging state. So how do educators negate these challenges? In this program, Jeff Butler, will be looking at the impacts of technology as well as what can educators do to ensure that they are leveraging the digital world to its fullest potential.

11:30 AM – 11:45 AM  |  Reflection and Adjournment
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM  |  Schools to Watch Training