Category Archives: Assemblies

Early Childhood Education Assembly Response to the Orlando Shootings and the Anniversary of the Mother Emmanuel Church Murders

Early Childhood Education Assembly Logo

The following post comes from NCTE’s Early Childhood Education Assembly and can be found in full at this link

Join Early Childhood Educators Across the Country To Effect Change in Schools Now!

On June 12, 2016, 49 people were murdered and over 50 wounded in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. One year earlier, on June 17, 2015, nine people were murdered in Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina. One killer targeted members of the LGTBQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) community, many of them Latina/o. The other targeted African Americans. Both were acts of terrorism. Because the Orlando shooter was Muslim, much vitriol was directed toward the entire Muslim community. The Charleston shooter, a professed Christian, prompted no massive discrimination against Christians. Nurtured by anti-LGBTQIA bias and racism, these hate crimes are not anomalies. These acts and the Islamaphobic virtriol that followed the Orlando shooting represent a vivid history of violence and hatred directed against LGBTQIA, Latina/o, African American, and Muslim people within and beyond the United States.

The Early Childhood Education Assembly (ECEA) believes that it is long past time for schools to take a visible and vocal stand against the beliefs that breed these atrocities as well as the more insidious cruelties that occur in our schools every day:  the psychological anguish children experience when they feel they must hide their two moms or two dads, their sexual orientation, their explorations of gender identification, their faith, home culture, and languages. This anguish builds when children see no normalized validation of themselves or their families and heritage in school curriculum and materials and as they see their families and communities dismissed, degraded and dehumanized in hallway talk, playground slurs, and uninterrupted discriminatory practices. This is exacerbated when the curriculum has no foundation in teaching children to identify injustices and learn strategies for speaking back to them.

This is indeed a life and death matter. Children take their own lives or die emotionally and psychologically every day when they feel persecuted in these ways. As educators, we can choose to directly teach against such discrimination or be complicit in its continuance because of our apathy or deflection (“They are too young,” “But we DO teach about bullying,” “But parents won’t be on board.”). NO MORE EXCUSES. Either you’re teaching specifically against anti-LGBTQIA, Latino/a, Muslim Bias and Racism or you are condoning it through your silence, timidity, and fear. Remember, we are the people who help raise generations of future adults who will feel safe in who they are and know how to stand up for others and challenge injustices in their places of work, education, worship, neighborhoods, and communities – or not.

Toward this end, the ECEA urges teachers, family members, and community members TODAY to get on the phone or send an email to school leaders in your community – principals, superintendents, district curriculum leaders. Ask:

  • How will you plan for and directly teach children in your school to recognize and fight against LGBTQIA, racial and cultural bias when school begins this fall?
  •  How will you ensure that every child exploring gender identification or who has two moms or two dads or whose family is Muslim or Latino/a or African American feels safe, validated, and normalized in your classrooms and your curriculum? 
  • How will teachers, administrators, and families work systematically and regularly together to build the knowledge, strength, and courage to bring these changes about?

The ECEA offers RESOURCES* to support this effort. As you utilize these resources and generate transformative practices in your schools and teacher education programs, we invite you to post stories of your experiences on the ECEA’s Facebook site – so we can share the work, GIVE COURAGE TO EACH OTHER, and engage in discussions.

In closing, the ECEA believes strongly that this is a responsibility we signed on for when we became teachers – to safeguard our students and teach them how to live, love, stand up for others, and effect change as they grow into the world around them. Others share this responsibility, but an enormous “buck” stops here.

– The Affirmative Action Committee of NCTE’s Early Childhood Education Assembly

* A few resources to get you started can be found at the end of the document at this link.

*Further resources and the ECEA consultants’ network can be found here



A Legacy of Pride

Reflections from NCTE Vice President
A. Chadwick

presidentsSince its founding in 1911, NCTE has been an organization devoted to representing, encouraging, and celebrating the fundamental role of English teachers in classrooms across America. The accomplishments of the many teachers who have joined and supported NCTE for more than 100 years have bestowed on us what can truly be heralded as a Legacy of PrideWe the entirety of the NCTE membership today—educators all—caucuses, assemblies, conferences—all of us are the legatees of this rich legacy. And, indeed this legacy is a rich and diverse one.

Throughout the year I’ll be sharing highlights from this history, beginning this month with the critical role played by African American teachers who have served and strengthened the organization for generations. They have helped to enrich and improve the lives of students of all backgrounds, races, and ethnicities. NCTE’s growth has also benefitted from the dynamic leadership of a group of inspired African American presidents whose work has helped to broaden the scope of the organization’s mission.

William Jenkins, Marjorie Farmer, Charlotte K. Brooks, Miriam Chaplin, Jesse Perry, Keith Gilyard, Ernest Morrell, and I are all parts of this legacy-tapestry—our legacy-tapestry—all of us. As Charlotte K. Brooks, a strong, teacher-intellectual in DC schools expressed in 1976 to the entirety of our membership:

There is no tangible foe somewhere out there, seeking to destroy all teachers of English. There are critics and writers and parents and others who are terribly concerned about the teaching of reading and writing and who speak out loudly, often in confusion and despair because they think they know what should be taught. The real enemy is ignorance [italics mine], and we can work together [italics mine] to combat that ignorance with knowledge.

Let’s never forget or put aside NCTE’s Legacy of Pride, for we have much about which to be proud. Are we where we want to be in perpetuity? Of course not. And we know this universal truth. Ours is a mission bequeathed by our past presidents to continue confronting and seeking change and improvement for all our students.

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Thinking and teaching “beyond the screen”: Looking at the role of multimedia in English classrooms in 2016

Jan 2016 Beyond the ScreenThe following post was written by Antero Garcia, president and co-founder of the SLAM assembly. 

I want to invite you to the next #NCTEchat this Sunday at 8 p.m. est on Twitter. Hosted by the brand new NCTE Assembly on the Studies of Literacies and Multimedia (SLAM), I am hoping we can talk about how we utilize multimedia in our classrooms, but with a fairly significant caveat: I want us to think beyond the screen.

Let me explain.

In the mid-‘90s, when I was still a high school student, I remember the occasions that my English teacher wrangled our talkative class and trudged us to the hallowed walls of the school’s computer lab. The room’s electronic hums and darkened lighting welcomed students to focus on the centerpiece of cutting edge technology at the school: flickering screens, mice, and… the Internet. As a class, we would be guided through what are now the most elementary of online functions: seeking information and utilizing these online sources of text and images within documents that would eventually be printed out.

Looking back, these gigantic, blinking boxes felt magical: their squid-like tendrils plugging them into power and into the broader World Wide Web. These computers were, for me, a form of director J.J. Abrams’s “mystery box.”

In the two decades since these memories, the role of computers and screens of digital information in schools continues to evolve. Most specifically, these devices have gotten closer in terms of access and ubiquity in the lives of our students today. If not retrieving laptops from a cart in the back of your classroom, students may likely be pulling school-purchased tablets from their backpacks, or even leveraging mobile devices in their pockets as part of a bring-your-own-device plan. Clearly, abundant forms of learning with digital devices are available in classrooms and schools today.

And yet, multimedia is not limited to simply things that can be downloaded, clicked on, animated. From exploring powerful transmedia narratives in comic books to supporting youth music production to designing and playing games that don’t require an electronic console (such as sports games, tabletop board games, card games, social games, and alternate reality games), the term “multimedia” means so much more than just the digital stuff that is filtered to us via screens.

While we may often be hyper-aware of the digital demands in our classrooms, I believe that multimedia tools should be utilized in ways that foster powerful relationships between students, teachers, and the larger school community. As such, what relationships do you foster vis-à-vis the multimedia used in your classroom? As the new SLAM assembly launched at the last annual meeting in November, I am hopeful that this branch of NCTE can continue to shape the ways multimedia are utilized in English classrooms, digitally and non-digitally, for powerful and critical purposes.

Yes, it may feel a bit hypocritical to spend an hour of your Sunday staring at a screen in order to engage in our conversation. However, I am hopeful that we can launch another year of amazing #NCTEchats with this SLAM-hosted conversation.

Help Protect Students’ Freedom of Speech and Press

NCLElarahebertNCTE has supported student journalism through a long-standing relationships with the Journalism Education Association, the Assembly for Advisers of Student Publications/ Journalism Education Association (AASP/JEA), and the Student Press Law Center .

In 1988 when the Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier ruling by the Supreme Court put students’ freedom of expression at risk in the hands of educators who could decide to censor school-sponsored student expression, including some student publications, if they thought a legitimate educational concern existed, NCTE passed the Resolution on Students’ Freedom of Speech and Press joining JEA in a campaign to encourage states and local communities to adopt policies going beyond Hazelwood and giving much more protection student freedom of speech and press.

The Council continues to fight for students’ rights, passing the Resolution on Students’ Right of Expression in 2004 and the NCTE Beliefs about the Students’ Right to Write in 2014:

“During this era of high-stakes testing, technology-based instruction, and increased control over students’ expression due to school violence, students’ right to write must be protected. Censorship of writing not only stifles student voices but denies students important opportunities to grow as both writers and thinkers. Through the often messy process of writing, students develop strategies to help them come to understand lessons within the curriculum as well as how their language and ideas can be used to communicate, influence, reflect, explain, analyze, and create.”

Now, we’ll join JEA and SPLC to again urge states to pass “anti-Hazelwood” legislation. And we need your help. Recent passage of such a law in North Dakota models how you might work in your states to support your students’ freedom of speech and press.

2016 Convention Proposal FAQ

2016annualconventionquoteAre you considering submitting a proposal for the 2016 NCTE Annual Convention? You should!

We’ve been getting some questions about the process and we thought it would be a good idea to address the most frequently asked ones below.

Check out this video in which Jason Griffith, one of our proposal coaches, shares his insights. You can also read his 6 tips for crafting a proposal here.

Is the proposal system live?

Yes! The proposal system went live on December 18 and can be accessed here. Full details on the word counts and fields you will have to fill in can be found here.

What if my session idea doesn’t have anything to do with advocacy?

First of all, all session proposal ideas are welcome for consideration and we are confident your proposal does involve advocacy of some sort.

A central argument of the 2016 convention theme, Faces of Advocacy, is that the very act of being a teacher is an act of advocacy. The work we do every day in making the best choices for our students and our profession involves advocating for what we know is right.

So if you have a session on a great new strategy for doing close reading, or apps that help teach about argumentation, you’re advocating for an approach. And if you have a session on infusing social justice themes into teacher preparation programs, that’s advocacy, too.

Think about the theme of the Convention less as a defined set of activities and more as a lens through which to view the important power and potential of our profession.

Still worried your session might not fit?

Consider this broad range of topics of emphasis the selection committee is looking for:

  • Advocacy
  • Argumentation
  • Assessment
  • Community/Public Literacy Efforts
  • Composition/Writing
  • Content Area Literacies/Writing across the Curriculum
  • Digital and Media Literacies
  • Early Literacies
  • Equity and Social Justice
  • Informational Text
  • Literature
  • Multilingualism
  • Narrative
  • Oral Language
  • Reading
  • Rhetoric
  • Teacher Education and Professional Development

What’s the criteria for selecting sessions?

You can read all about the criteria here. But here are some guiding ideas to help you:

  • Be clear and thoughtful. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for reviewers to imagine what this session might be like.
  • Think engagement. Susan Houser, NCTE president-elect and conference chair for 2016, has been clear from the start that she wants more sessions that are active and engaging and fewer that are driven by information delivery alone. How might you foster conversation and interactive learning as part of your session?
  • Make it relevant. There is so much going on in education right now that it’s likely any of your ideas will fit in, but bear in mind that attendees come from all over the country, from classrooms of every shape and size. Think about how what you’re thinking and doing in your local context could resonate with folks from lots of different contexts.

The NCTE offices will be closed December 24-January 1. We’ll make sure to answer any additional questions as soon as we get back.