Tag Archives: NCTE Annual Convention

2017 Annual Convention Updates: Local Engagement Committee

The Annual Convention is only seven weeks away and NCTE volunteers and staff have been working tirelessly to ensure that the experience is meaningful for all who attend. This work includes everything from videotaping interviews with students who will be participating in our general sessions to providing top-notch customer service to ensure members have all their questions answered when registering to attend. Book donations from publishers are filling up NCTE’s warehouse, and community members from St. Louis are in discussion with volunteers about connecting to our event.

Alongside the content we have been planning since last fall, we have also enhanced engagement efforts to illustrate the anti-racist teaching work of our members.  Today we offer an updated look into the progress being made.

In August, members were invited to nominate themselves or others to join the Local Engagement Committee. Additionally, members of all NCTE caucuses were invited to join. Everyone who applied was asked to take part in carrying out this charge:

  1. Work carefully to understand the needs of local NCTE members and community stakeholders, then propose one or more OUTREACH activities or events to occur during the Convention in St. Louis. Identify what NCTE can do to promote equitable, just, responsive teaching and learning conditions and practices in St. Louis and Missouri.
  2. Propose one or more member-focused activities or events to occur during the Convention that meet member needs and desires to advocate for equitable teaching and learning conditions.
  3. Become well versed on long-established NCTE plans related to diversity, inclusivity, and equity, both for the St. Louis Convention and beyond.

Read the full charge here.

The Committee currently includes the following members:

Local Engagement Committee Co-Chairs

Alfredo Luján, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Middle Section Rep-at-Large, NCTE Executive Committee
Valerie Taylor, Austin, Texas, Secondary Section Rep-at-Large, NCTE Executive Committee
Jeanette Toomer, New York, New York, College Section

Local Engagement Committee Members

Damián Baca (Tucson, Arizona), Melissa Biehl (Chesterfield, Missouri), Mollie Blackburn (Columbus, Ohio), Barri Bumgarner (Columbia, Missouri), Heather Coffey (Charlotte, North Carolina), Susan Crosby (St. Louis, Missouri), Bob Fecho (New York, New York), Lorena Germán (Austin, Texas), Lauren Gonzales (El Paso, Texas), Charles Gonzalez (Buffalo, New York), Julie Gorlewski (Richmond, Virginia), Tracy Hinds (St. Louis, Missouri), Laura Kay Jagles (Sante Fe, New Mexico), Rick Joseph (Royal Oak, Michigan), Richard Meyer (Albuquerque, New Mexico), Cornelius Minor (Brooklyn, New York), Jennifer Paulsen (Cedar Falls, Iowa), Leilya Pitre (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), Keisha Rembert (Plainfield, Illinois), Julia Torres (Denver, Colorado), Velma Valadez (St. Louis, Missouri), Allen Webb (Kalamazoo, Michigan), Julie Zurgable (Rochester Hills, Michigan)

The work of the committee is ongoing. They spent many hours in meetings in September and will do so throughout October. Here are some of the things they have put in motion so far:

A New Roundtable Session
This session will take place on Friday. Three topics will be discussed: police brutality, characters of color in children’s literature, and “taking a knee” as political protest (social and historical contexts).

Planning is underway for two workshops that will address curricular resources and the theme of ending racism.

Taking Action
Plans are underway for a public display of solidarity. Both a petition and organized protest are under discussion.

A Town Hall
A panel discussion is being assembled for Friday afternoon. Confirmed speakers will include St. Louis NAACP president Adolphus Pruitt; Superintendent of University City (Missouri) Sharonica L. Hardin-Bartley; a Missouri student; and leaders of various groups within NCTE.

Events external to the Convention are also being planned, and possibilities currently under development include visits to St. Louis schools, opportunities to connect visiting authors with St. Louis students, film screenings, and workshops.

Executive Director Emily Kirkpatrick has been on the phone every day with meeting planners, community leaders, teachers, and convention center staff in order to:

  • Allocate staff and funding resources to provide support for new projects like the Local Engagement Committee.
  • Secure a discounted shuttle service to and from the airport.
  • Build a relationship with the St. Louis NAACP whose president, Adolphus Pruitt, will speak at the Convention.
  • Arrange for adding more convention space to hold local engagement committee activities and for permits to carry out the evolving ideas of members and organizational leadership

Everything described above is new or improved upon for the Convention this year based on changes we knew we needed to make in early August. That’s much to pull together in a short time! But long before August, this year’s convention General Sessions, featured panels, and sessions were already focused on how we privilege student voices and literacy skills. Inclusion, empowerment, lifelong literacy, and the power of language were key components of this year’s program from the start, and we believe these recent additions will make the experience all the richer.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more updates. We are so grateful for the time and effort staff and volunteers are putting forth right now. I have every confidence this will be a powerful and inspiring experience for us all.

2017 NCTE Annual Convention Updates

This week the Convention Preview started hitting everyone’s mailboxes, and it has been so exciting to watch the enthusiasm grow for our upcoming event. We’re only 12 weeks away! In the days to come, you can expect regular updates; today Jocelyn Chadwick and I wanted to tell you about some of the behind-the-scenes things we’ve got underway.

Safe Travel

Travel safety is one project I’ve been hard at work on with the CEO of Explore St. Louis (the city’s convention & visitors bureau).  Last week they agreed to underwrite a hefty portion of the fees for shuttle service for all attendees to and from the St. Louis airport. All 2017 NCTE Convention attendees will be offered the opportunity to book an insured shuttle service for $10 one way, $20 round trip. Reservations must be made by 11/13 for adequate fleet planning. The negotiated shuttle provider is GoBest, and you can secure your ride here.

Additionally, Explore St. Louis plans to have volunteers stationed at the largest convention hotels to offer local information and share walking directions. Volunteers will also be stationed at the St. Louis Airport to welcome arriving attendees and offer orientation information.

Explore St. Louis is working closely with us, understanding our concerns. Here’s a message from their president, Kitty Ratcliffe: “We’re committed to making sure NCTE convention attendees feel safe and welcome in our city.”

Local Engagement Committee

NCTE members responded affirmatively to the call for volunteers to serve on the local engagement committee. The NCTE Executive Committee held a special meeting this week, online, to collaborate on next steps. The Presidential Team has created a draft of the committee’s charge and, after EC review, will move forward. Smart, holistic, and deliberate ideas have been brought forward for consideration. We can anticipate this committee coming up with strategies for engaging with local schools, addressing the policy issues at play in the state, and more.

We’re happy to have Aldophus Pruitt, the president of the St. Louis NAACP, on the committee. Last week he said, “The more we get to know NCTE, the more important we believe it is that you come to St. Louis, Missouri. We have a lot to offer one another. This is the beginning of an important partnership.”

Through this process, it has become clear that having a local engagement committee should be a regular feature of all future convention sites, and the Presidential Team is working to formalize that commitment.

Here is what Jocelyn has to share: 

As Program Chair and part of the leadership within NCTE, my work is driven by NCTE’s mission and strategic plan. In preparation for this Convention, I’ve leveraged this work with the Council, as well as work I’ve done through Harvard, to support members and students with a focus on inclusion and empowerment. Here is what that looks like in action.

I’ve been visiting and collaborating with ELA teachers (MS/HS/College) and working with students in their classrooms—in person and digitally—in preparation for November.

One partnership I’m very excited about is with Lift for Life Academy in St. Louis. You can read more about that work in this blog post. I have promised the students at this school that I will visit in November prior to Convention, and I look forward to doing so.

While some of this work has focused on Missouri, this map shows all the other states (and one Canadian province) whose classrooms I will have worked with by the Convention:

My projects with these classrooms represent a blending of on-the-ground and digital collaboration and teaching—all of which epitomize NCTE’s aim to provide support, resources, research, and examples to teachers and students to foment lifelong literacy. You can look forward to seeing the fruits of these collaborations on display in November.

I have also begun a new project with Jimmy Santiago Baca, American Book Award–winning poet, and two directors of the Federal Bureau of Prisons on a literacy pilot in El Paso, Texas. This work focuses on literacy not only for the incarcerated individuals in the pilot program, but also provides similar conversations and gatherings for their families and especially their children.

As program chair, a priority for me this year has been seeking the involvement of members who have never been “tapped” before to volunteer their time, expertise, and effort to committees, panels, and the work of NCTE. I am joined by the Executive Committee and Executive Director in this pursuit. Our aim has been and continues to be that membership knows NCTE belongs to them and leadership supports them and their students. It has been energizing to see so many new voices step forward to be part of this work.

All of this is replicable, and it is my hope that the foundations laid at this Convention set the stage for more work of this nature moving forward. Stay tuned for more good news. We can’t wait to see you all in St. Louis!

Who am I becoming through my fellowship with CNV?

This post is by member Marcus Croom. 

A common technique for measuring change is to take a snapshot of something at one point (pre-) and examine it against another comparable snapshot taken at some later point (post-). As a newcomer to the CNV fellowship, I decided to create some early snapshots to which I can return at the end of this unique opportunity. My question: Who am I becoming through my fellowship with CNV? Following are three recalled snapshots that are important to me now. Toward the end of my fellowship, I’d like to revisit these snapshots and add new ones in order to document and describe my development. Because of my own interest in genre, I have thought about the genre I am using here and how to describe it. I regard this text as the opening episode of a micro-comparative memoir, a genre with at least two meaningfully comparative discourses. I create this genre to help me answer a significant question in my life.

Click: George Kamberelis emails me to introduce himself as my mentor and I’m geeked! I chose him as one of several potential mentors because his work focuses on philosophic issues, genre, and the nature and effects of different modes of classroom discourse. That’s exactly the kind of thinking partner I need for my work. Man, he’s published so much stuff! His CV is like a scroll. It seems like we are both in the field of literacy because our careers unexpectedly unfolded into literacy research. I think we might be able to relate through our less-affluent backgrounds and our less-traditional journeys into the field. We also share a background in religious studies. Hmm, he seems to be a White guy with convictions about racial justice. It’s always heartening to detect White folks who are not in racial darkness. George and I schedule a talk and we hangout via Google. He’s an intellectual heavyweight, yet he seems like such a cool guy. He’s already sharing ideas that are moving me forward in my thinking. Wow, George Kamberelis is my CNV mentor. This is going to be great!

Click: At our first CNV 2016–18 cohort Fall Institute at the NCTE Annual Convention in Atlanta, each mentor and fellow shares their story. One-by-one we solo, with a full soul, to our caring choir of color. I realize that I’m more impressed with who these amazing people are than withtheir scholarship and accomplishments.

These mentors and fellows are uplifting people, people who are resolved to doing good work in the world. I’m awestruck by their generosity and transparency. In so many ways, our times have tested these women and men, yet as scholars, they have remained true to the good fight of justice.

As I collect the contours of these scholars’ particular experiences, I also realize the terror of choosing a career path that is routinely and stubbornly anti-egalitarian, unmeritocratic, and constrained by the racially White superordinate assumption. Note for readers: Don’t misunderstand, I already knew this. Each story we heard raised themes that were familiar to me. Understand that I’ve been cross-training for an anti-Black world since at least Goldsboro High School (in North Carolina) and at each HBCU (Historically Black College or University) from which I have graduated. The terror did not come from surprise, rather from proximity. Notwithstanding all else, including Trump’s approaching presidency, here I am choosing our mentors’ well-worn journey: tenure-track professorship in a research-intensive institution. In this cohort moment, I feel like I’m standing in the hypogeum of higher education’s savage arena. In this close dialogue with the mentors of our cohort, I feel the weight of this savage arena—we all got next. Also close to me, though not present, are my beloved ones at home in Oak Park (Illinois). Come what may, and however I manage to navigate this savage arena, my path will impact my family’s future; including retiring my old student loans, retiring the soon-to-be mortgage of our second purchased house, and even retiring from the labor market altogether. As if I were nearing another African door of no return, I ask aloud, “What am I doing?” Hearing me, George supportively looks on as another CNV mentor at our table replies in a sisterly tone, “The right thing.”

Click: I’m at the NCTE Annual Convention for the very first time because of CNV. I’ve heard about this conference and have wanted to go, but the LRA (Literacy Research Association) conference is the annual gathering for my field and AERA is THE research conference, so I’ve had to choose carefully which conferences to attend as a doc student. The struggle is real. Without CNV, I wouldn’t be here this week. Glancing at the program, the sessions at NCTE seem outstanding. I’m glad NCTE provided the conference schedule through an app, the same way that the International Conference on Urban Education also did two weeks ago. It’s so hard to pick sessions. Each of the sessions I found (using a keyword search for race) sound amazing.

Time for our CNV Poster Session (p. 29). Dang, I forgot to bring push-pins! Never mind, I’m good. There’s a brand new box of clear ones under the boards set up by the Convention Center. The questions and feedback mentioned during the poster session are so helpful. I’ve gotta keep in touch with the folks who signed up for my contact list. I want to make the most of the network that CNV is offering me. By the time I graduate, I gotta have a job lined up. It looks like all of the fellows are having a great time and are connecting with a lot of passersby. After our CNV Poster Session, I head to “Supporting the Academic Achievement and Cultural Identity of Black Adolescent Males.”(p.41) I’m liking, and learning from, the way one of the researchers used “racial storylines.” Good thing I got to hear this sister’s presentation. Oh my goodness: A high school classmate I haven’t seen in years and George were both in this session too! I didn’t even see them until we were walking out. I introduce my classmate to George, and the three of us stand talking for a few moments about the fiery exchanges we heard. My nine-nickel classmate, an English teacher in Atlanta, is singing at a gig in Stone Mountain tonight and she invites me to come. That’s wild—what are the odds? Goldsboro is in the building, NCTE!

Debut: In Autumn, age 40 awaits. For now, an unsettling haze wafts between this last leg to commencement and my treasured definition of success. It hovers and occasionally wrinkles, making the specific steps I should take appear and disappear like drifting clouds. I wonder: Does it profit to have a better understanding of race or to develop racial literacies? Yes, this is significant, justice-minded work. But will my costly justice work profit (the university I work for, the schools I work with, the family I live for)? I don’t yet have the answers I want. Still urgently, at every possible moment, I move forward and work thoughtfully within my immediate clear view. When I must pause, I stand trusting. Make no mistake, I am not the trusting type. I’m learning to stand trusting at forced pauses because of defining moments that have left me no other choice. As it turns out, I am the situated captain of my fate. Remembering my peaks and valleys, I look back now and marvel with gratitude. I was brought this far by caring collaborators, helpful hardships, and immortal love. If it had not been for all that was on my side in this anti-Black world, where would I be? Now, with the added support of CNV, who am I becoming?

Marcus Croom is currently a doctoral candidate of Literacy, Language, and Culture at University of Illinois at Chicago. Within his broader interest in literacies and race, Croom’s research will continue to document teachers’ understandings of race and examine the influence these understandings may have on teacher efficacy, student identification, pedagogical reasoning, and teaching practices in literacy instruction.

Conference Conversations: Reflecting on the 2016 NCTE Annual Convention in Atlanta

This post was written by member Kate Walker. 

This photo was taken at the 2016 NCTE Annual Convention when Kate pretended to be a Spelling Bee Champion.

Attending NCTE Conventions has become a favorite activity of mine, and not just because the event falls near my birthday. I love the serendipitous conversations in the airport with other attendees (you can usually identify English teachers by their comfortable shoes, cardigan sweaters, or canvas shoulder bags). I love the facilitated discussions during presentations about issues important to teachers from around the country and the world. I love the meaningful talks with strangers who have become instant friends while waiting in line to talk to a favorite author. Clearly, I like talking, but what I like even more are the meaningful connections these conversations create and how they eventually impact my students in a positive way.

When I meet people attending the Convention for the first time, I like to tell them the biggest secret of longtime convention attendees: the publishers in the Exhibit Hall want to have conversations with you. Real, meaningful conversations about the books you teach. For example, after telling a publisher I wanted to find a modern companion piece for Their Eyes Were Watching God, she pointed me to Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn, which is also a bildungsroman exploring women’s friendships. (The accuracy of her suggestion prompted me to buy a few more copies of Another Brooklyn to pass along to students for choice reads.)

The NCTE Convention also allows me to talk to all kinds of writers: famous authors, new authors, academic writers, blog writers, and people hoping to someday have the time to sit down and write between all the grading and lesson planning. I fangirled about S. E. Hinton with e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, I talked to Sharon Draper about recent reads (and dropped off a copy of Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing for her), and I talked shop with Jim Burke about teaching seniors. These conversations would probably not have been possible for me at my first NCTE Convention, when I felt insecure about meeting authors. At the New York Convention in 2007, starstruck, I literally walked into Louise Erdrich when she left an escalator, and I couldn’t even summon words when I had Dave Barry sign a book for me. But NCTE Conventions have helped me understand the human side of authors I’d previously idolized–they, too, have favorite authors, have favorite books, and have classroom stories.

While talking to publishers and authors constitutes a huge reason I attend the NCTE Convention, ultimately, the conversations with other teachers are the reason I return year after year. Other teachers provide me with the best ideas. Sometimes a presenter introduces me to a new poem or article that worked well for their students, and sometimes an impromptu conversation with a teacher over lunch generates new ideas for writing exercises. Attending the Convention offers me professional development from the best resource: other teachers. So every year, around November, I gather my comfortable shoes, my cozy sweater, and my canvas shoulder bag, and I prepare to talk to anyone who’s willing to answer my various questions about becoming a better teacher.

Kate Walker teaches in State College, PA, and edits the Pennsylvania State Affiliate (PCTELA) blog.  She was the 2014 NCTE Secondary Teacher of Excellence for Pennsylvania.

This photo was taken at the 2016 NCTE Annual Convention when Kate pretended to be a Spelling Bee Champion.

NCTE Award-Winning Publications

ncteawardwinners2016A number of teachers, authors, and researchers were presented with awards recently during NCTE’s Annual Convention in Atlanta. Here, we feature some of the awards for books, journal articles, and publications.

Fiction: The NCTE Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children recognizes fiction that has the potential to transform children’s lives by inviting compassion, imagination, and wonder. Learn more about Charlotte Huck, the inspiration for the award. This year’s winner is Ghost by Jason Reynolds.

Nonfiction: Look to the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children to find the best nonfiction titles for your students. Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet was this year’s winner. Learn more about teaching with content-rich nonfiction and informational texts.

Poetry: NCTE established its Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children in 1977 to honor a living American poet for his or her aggregate work for children ages 3–13. This year’s winner is Marilyn Nelson. She is the author of many award-winning books. View more about teaching poetry.

These three awards are given at the Children’s Book Awards Luncheon. Watch a slideshow of the winners.

Diverse Books: The Alan C. Purves Award for an article in Research in the Teaching of English is presented annually to the author(s) from the previous year’s volume judged as likely to have the greatest impact on educational practice. The 2016 award went to Denise Dávila for the article “#WhoNeedsDiverseBooks?: Preservice Teachers and Religious Neutrality with Children’s Literature“. Dávila’s research examines the sociocultural contexts in which preservice teachers and underrepresented groups of children and families engage with diverse works of children’s literature.

Secondary Classrooms: The Paul and Kate Farmer Writing Award is given for articles in English Journal written by classroom teachers. In the first timely article, “Using Memorials to Build Critical Thinking Skills and Empathy“, Jennifer Ansbach asks students to challenge their views of iconic memorials and guides students through the challenges of creating a memorial that represents all. Her work demonstrates the important role English teachers play in helping students develop empathy.

In the second award-winning article, “Photos as Witness: Teaching Visual Literacy for Research and Social Action“, Kiran Subhani helps students position themselves in both recognition of and creating a call to action using visual literacy. Subhani emphasizes the importance of visual literacy in today’s world as students are bombarded and bombard others with visual images.

Professional Learning: This year the CEL English Leadership Quarterly Best Article Award went to Christina Saidy for “Moving from Them to Us: Making New Arguments about Teaching and Learning via Teacher Inquiry“. By telling one teacher’s story of professional growth, Saidy explores the power of effective teacher inquiry groups.

See the NCTE website for information on all of the awards and a complete list of winners. View the slideshow to see the winners with their awards.