Tag Archives: NCTE Journals

Textual Collaborations: Preparing Two-Year College English Faculty

This post is written by members Holly Hassel and Kelly Ritter.

Since two-year colleges have developed an independent identity as sites of education, professional organizations have sought to define the specific type of knowledge and training that leads to successful outcomes for instructors in these settings. The first Guidelines for Junior College English Teacher Training Programs were published in 1971, while the “Guidelines for the Academic Preparation of English Faculty in Two-Year Colleges” were first approved by the TYCA Executive Committee in 2004 (Jensen and Toth 561). Each of these documents sought to distinguish what educational preparation best prepared instructors to work in two-year colleges.

In 2017, updated guidelines appear in both College English and Teaching English in the Two-Year College. Why both publications? They will help those who are hiring instructors and want guidance in evaluating credentials or those working toward developing internal professional development programs. The new document, “TYCA Guidelines for Preparing Teachers of English in the Two-Year College” also engages graduate programs and faculty in the conversation in ways that prior statements did not.

With the rapid collapse of tenure-track lines in English departments nationwide, graduate program directors (and other graduate faculty members who mentor candidates) have slowly come to realize that faculty positions outside the idealized R1 campus are what their students will likely hold. More slowly still, arguably, these advisors have come to realize the value of making positions at two-year colleges visible. But the traditional graduate program does very little to train students for this work. As Kelly considered these professional realities, she concluded that publishing the updated guidelines in College English not only makes (more) visible the history and value of training and expertise among two-year college faculty; it also lays bare the chasm that has long existed between graduate program training in English, particularly literary studies, and the work done at two-year colleges nationwide. As editor of CE, Kelly wanted to make this division known to readers. But perhaps more important than exposing this lack of training and calling for a renewed interest in preparing graduate students for two-year college work, Kelly wanted to make a larger statement about who reads our journals and why. The cooperative relationship between TETYC and CE (and CCC) has always been a strength of those journals; creating more dialogue between these audiences–and a more openly welcoming gesture toward the two-year audience to indeed find itself in the pages of CE is part of making that larger statement.

For Holly, the publication of the guidelines is both a responsibility of the journal and an opportunity to contribute to the growing body of literature on how graduate education in English MA and PhD programs can evolve to meet the needs of this time and place in higher education. Anchoring the September 2017 issue of Teaching English in the Two-Year College (a special issue focused on graduate preparation for two-year college English teachers), then, the new guidelines are poised to speak to audiences across the range of college English, writing, and humanities programs. The 2004 guidelines outline areas of formal preparation (for example, literature, grammar, composition theory and pedagogy, rhetoric and rhetorical theory, research methods, the adult learner, and teaching reading) and characteristics of effective two-year college faculty—being reflective, flexible, and understanding of diversity; participating in professional communities; collaborating with colleagues; and creating a student-centered learning environment. By contrast, the most recent “Guidelines for Preparation” more squarely calls on graduate programs to partner explicitly and in spirit with two-year college institutions in preparing instructors to work in open-admissions institutions.

In this way, the new statement is a road map for teacher-scholars in all sectors of higher education to recognize and make visible the specific conditions of two-year colleges as sites of employment, to highlight their value as potential employers of MA- or PhD-holding graduates in English programs, and to adjust their programs in curricular and professional work that will prepare their students to be educators who participate in the various organizations within the profession and engage in ongoing development throughout their careers.

What has further inspired College English and Teaching English in the Two-Year College to highlight these new guidelines statements, however, is the imperative for the field of English studies itself to come to terms with some critical realities:

  • The definition of academic labor is shifting; the very shape of the labor force itself has dramatically evolved, as readers know, with anywhere from 60% to 80% non-tenure-track faculty among its ranks, depending upon which figure from any number of studies that one wishes to use.
  • Two-year colleges, like four-year colleges and universities, operate under significant reliance upon non-tenure-track labor; four-year institutions have recently become more cognizant of this labor force and thus should (in our view) see less separation from our two-year colleagues, not more.
  • Additionally, the concerns of four-year faculty—student agency, curricular development, revision, and innovation, shared governance, intellectual freedom, fair working conditions, cross-cultural awareness and sensitivity, to name just a few—are also the concerns of two-year faculty.

It’s impossible to know whether this partnership between us as journal editors and the two issues will bear fruit. Reading audiences are funny things—they appear and recede, they celebrate, they criticize, they evolve. At any one time a reader might be picking up both the CE and TETYC issues and connecting the dots. Or it might be a historian, some years down the road, who pulls each of our issues out of the (probably electronic) archive and says, Hey, what’s this? Part of providing this annotation, this exegesis, regarding our collaborative work is to anticipate that future moment and provide a narrative for it.

But writing here, as we have, is also a way to talk through and to readers of the present, to challenge all of us to ask what kind of relationships can and should exist between two-year and four-year faculty, programs, and professional development? Who do we want our future faculty to be, and how do we want them to enter a story that has long had many tellers with sometimes competing agendas? We can’t answer these questions for all of us, but perhaps knitting the history and purposes of TYCA into the fabric of CE is a place to start.

Works Cited

Calhoon-Dillahunt, Carolyn, Darin L. Jensen, Sarah Z. Johnson, Howard Tinberg, and Christie Toth. TYCA Guidelines for Preparing Teachers of English in the Two-Year College. College English. Vol. 79, no. 6, July 2017, 550–60.

Jensen, Darin L.,  and Christie Toth. “Unknown Knowns: The Past, Present, and Future of Graduate Preparation for Two-Year College English Faculty.” College English, vol. 79, no. 6, July 2017, 561–92.

“TYCA Guidelines for Preparing Teachers of English in the Two-Year College,” Teaching English in the Two-Year College, vol. 45, no. 1, Sept 2017, pp. 8–19.

TYCA. “Guidelines for the Academic Preparation of English Faculty at Two-Year Colleges.” Two-Year College English Association. 2004. http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Groups/TYCA/TYCAGuidelines.pdf.

Holly Hassel is a professor of English and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County, a two-year college. Twitter: @prof_hassel



 Kelly Ritter is Associate Dean for Curricula and Academic Policy and professor of English and Writing Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Reaching Toward a More Accepting and Equitable Society: The Work of the Language Arts in These Times

This post is written by members Wanda Brooks, Jonda C. McNair, and Kelly Wissman.


In September of 2016, we published the first issue of Language Arts under our editorship. In this open-themed issue, we included an article exploring various genres of talk in writers workshop conferences and a reflective piece on the potential of Twitter in the classroom. Our November issue, “Diverse Books,” welcomed a range of voices advocating for more inclusive texts, including an essay by Rudine Sims Bishop, one of the field’s most widely cited children’s literature scholars, and a carefully argued take on research and policy related to diverse books by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas.  Our third issue, “Tweens,” featured artwork by and an interview with beloved author for tweens Tom Angleberger. Celebrated author Rita Williams-Garcia’s reflection on her trilogy for tweens also graced the pages, alongside renowned researchers Gay Ivey and Peter Johnston who wrote about the importance of choice and high-interest literature to promote classrooms as engaged reading communities. Our recently published “Viewpoints and Visions” issue includes articles on culturally relevant and sustaining pedagogies across grade levels and contexts.

As Co-editors, we are honored to serve in this capacity and to maintain the longstanding tradition of publishing high quality scholarship focusing on language arts teaching and learning related to children of preschool through middle school age.   Within these times marked by profound political unrest and widening inequalities, we believe that the language arts have a central role to play by helping us reach toward a more accepting and equitable society.

Our collective vision for the journal entails three main goals. First, we emphasize children’s literature in a number of ways such as routinely featuring art from picturebooks and novels on the cover of the journal, publishing interviews with notable children’s book authors and illustrators, and having one themed issue annually devoted to some aspect of literature for youth. Second, we try to make even more central the words, experiences, and insights of children as they use language and literacy to navigate, make sense of, and leave their marks on the world.  For example, in classrooms and homes today, young learners are harnessing the tools of digital media to navigate the realm of popular culture while creating their own multimedia productions.  As editors, we embrace these deeply creative and increasingly complex practices of literacy by highlighting the literary, artistic, and analytic work taking place across multiple modalities and contexts. We also prioritize children’s voices and the written and multimodal artifacts young people create. Third, we aim to embed issues related to diversity and social justice throughout the journal. We also feature in the journal perspectives and research that explore the challenges and possibilities of envisioning and enacting “education as the practice of freedom” (hooks, 1994) and the vital role that the language arts may play in this endeavor.  From schools to community sites, from homes to homeless shelters, from street demonstrations to prisons, literacies can profoundly mediate and transform experiences and our understandings of them.

It is our hope that as you engage with the pages of Language Arts that the ideas contained within will inspire you, open up new avenues of thought, and perhaps even provoke a change in a classroom practice or plant the seeds for a fresh way of thinking about literacy, assessment, young children, and the possible role of the language arts to help us realize the democratic promise of education. We invite you to correspond with us on the direction and vision of the journal and to support us in our efforts to make more central the voices and perspectives of students and their teachers as they engage in this important work of the language arts.

We also invite you to write for Language Arts! Please consider adding your voice and perspectives by writing a Feature Article emerging from research you have conducted in school, family, or community settings. You might also consider writing a shorter, more conversational, piece for our Perspectives on Practice column. Visit our website for a description of upcoming calls for manuscripts, including, Reimagining Writers and Writing; Changes in Children’s Literature; Youth Culture(s) and Childhood; Life Lessons: Autobiographies, Biographies, and Memoirs.  Click here for the full calls: http://www.ncte.org/journals/la/call and here for manuscript submission guidelines: http://www.ncte.org/journals/la/write


hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom. New York, NY:                   Routledge.

wandabrooksWanda Brooks is an associate professor of Literacy Education in the College of Education at Temple University.  She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses related to reading theories and literacy instruction.  Her research examines the literary understandings of diverse middle school youth who read African American children’s literature. 


jonda_mcnair_photoJonda C. McNair, a former primary grade teacher, is a professor of literacy education at Clemson University in South Carolina. She specializes in literature intended for youth with an emphasis on books written by and about African Americans.


kelly-wissman_headshot-6Kelly Wissman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Literacy Teaching and Learning at the University at Albany-SUNY. Across her scholarship and teaching she explores how children’s literature, writing, and the arts can create more humanizing and equitable educational spaces. 

Teaching and Learning in Transitional Spaces

This post is written by member Holly Hassel, editor of Teaching English in the Two-Year College. 

hollyhasselBeginning with the September, 2016 issue, I stepped into the role of editor of Teaching English in the Two-Year College. I had been a long-time reader of the journal, having taught at the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County, a two-year transfer campus in central Wisconsin, since 2002. I had previously taught at Southeast Community College in Lincoln, Nebraska, but experience can only provide so much professional learning.

Starting a full-time position at a two-year college, I found a critical resource in TETYC. I was and am committed to the critical work of open-admissions campuses, and I also knew that access-institutions differ in significant ways from the Research 1 campus where I had completed my doctoral work. With selective admissions and a largely residential student population, my graduate institution had a very different student population than the two-year college where I taught. Transitioning to a teaching environment where I was working with a wider range of students in terms of demographic diversity and academic preparation meant that professional support (in addition to the institutional and collegial support I had) was imperative.

I’ve made a career and home at this institution doing this work. Now, taking on the editorial role of the journal that was so critical to my development as a teacher-scholar means that I am able to continue providing that professional resource to colleagues, one that was so important to me as an early-career teacher. As our submission call indicates,

We seek articles (4,000–7,000 words) in all areas of composition (basic, first-year, and advanced); business, technical, and creative writing; and the teaching of literature in the first two college years. We also publish articles on topics such as program and curriculum development, assessment, technology and online learning, writing program administration, developmental education in writing and reading, speech, writing centers in two-year colleges, journalism, reading, ESL, and other areas of professional concern.

This focus largely parallels what the journal has been doing since its inception in 1974. At the beginning of my editorship, I knew I wanted to retain many of the features of the journal: its commitment to engaging, rigorous scholarship, of course, but also the journal’s ability to meet the needs of various types of readers—those instructors who teach in vocational and technical colleges, in general education and transfer programs; in “junior colleges” that focus on transfer. Many readers are active researchers, while others focus largely on professional development and growth that directly affects their individual classrooms. The updated submission guidelines reflect that commitment to scholarship that fulfills the needs of a wide range of readers.

But there were some things I wanted to try—as we are in a well-established digital and social media age, expanding the presence of TETYC in these environments was important to me. I started a blog that would be a responsive way to reach out to and interact with readers. Further, I started my term by transitioning the submission process to Editorial Manager, an online management system that streamlines the submission and review process and allows authors to monitor the process of review. It also gives reviewers an interactive experience where they can more easily access other reader reports and follow up on their manuscript recommendations.

Last, respectful of the busy lives of two-year college teachers, who teach 4, 5, 6, or more classes each semester, we’re offering two new features—Review Essays and Symposiums. Review essays offer a broad overview of multiple new professional texts that help readers get a sense of how new published work in the field fits together and whether it can inform their own day-to-day work. Our first review essay, published in the December 2016 issue, reviews multiple texts on online writing instruction, something many two-year college faculty increasingly find themselves doing. Second, a symposium brings together expert voices on a topic of shared interest–our first, coordinated by Christie Toth (U of Utah) and Darin Jensen (Des Moines Area Community College) will appear in the September 2017 issue and will focus on preparing faculty for effective two-year college English teaching.

I welcome feedback and questions about the journal at tetyc.editor@gmail.com.

Holly Hassel is Professor of English and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County in Wausau, Wisconsin. 

Getting to Know Your Journal: A Quick Hello from College Composition and Communication

The following post is by NCTE member Jonathan Alexander and editor of College Composition and Communication.

cccsep2016coverWhile many of you are likely already familiar with College Composition and Communication, you may be less familiar with the journal’s objectives and the sort of work that we publish. CCC prides itself on collecting and amplifying voices from across the field: from two-year and four-year colleges and universities, from writing studies outside of the traditional university, and from quantitative and qualitative studies. Our journal focuses on publishing research and scholarship in composition studies that supports college teachers as they reflect on and improve their practices in teaching writing. Because composition studies often draws from a broad range of humanistic disciplines, our pages reflect the great diversity of work that contributes to that project. We regularly publish work related to technical communication, computers and writing, writing across the curriculum, research practices, the history of composition, assessment, the politics of writing and of teaching writing, and writing center work.

By publishing in CCC, scholars are able to reach a diverse readership that includes teachers of college-level writing at various types of institutions and literacy centers, administrators, undergraduate and graduate students, legislators, corporate employers, parents of college-aged children, and undergraduate and graduate alumni. As you can imagine, the articles we publish are therefore unique in their accessibility; though complex and sophisticated, scholarship printed in CCC shows great rhetorical flexibility in considering the interests and perspectives of this wide range of readers. The articles and review essays which appear in CCC undergo a rigorous and anonymous peer review process, ensuring that the work that we publish—approximately 15 percent of the submissions we receive—are of the highest quality and of the highest interest to our readers.

If you would like to learn more about subscribing to or submitting to CCC, I encourage you to check out our Web presence at www.ncte.org/cccc/ccc. You can also email me directly at ccceditors@gmail.com.

jalexanderJonathan Alexander is Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of California, Irvine, where he is also the Director of the Center for Excellence in Writing & Communication.  He is the editor of College Composition and Communication.

A Forum for the Contingent Teacher

The following post is by NCTE member Amy Lynch-Biniek and editor of Forum: Issues about Part-Time and Contingent Faculty

Amy Lynch-BiniekI’m lucky—I have a secure tenure-track position as a Composition professor at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.  For ten years previous, I worked as an adjunct professor. I was part-time, picking up classes where I could. At first, I was supplementing my income as a secondary education English teacher: I’d guide 9th graders through Romeo and Juliet by day, and teach college freshmen Othello at night. Later, I decided to pursue college teaching full-time, but as I worked on my Ph.D., it became clear to me that “full time” was going to be hard to come by. Again, I got lucky: graduates hoping to become professors soon discover the odds are stacked against them.

In an era beset by austerity measures, teachers from elementary to post-secondary are competing for fewer positions. Writing on FiveThirtyEight, Ben Casselman shares the sobering news that on the secondary level, “As millions of children across the country head back to school this month, they will be returning to schools with fewer teachers than in past years. Those teachers will be paid less, on average. And many of them will be working in school systems that receive less funding.”  The news is no better for those of us in higher ed: as states have slashed budgets, more and more tenure-track professors have disappeared along with the funding.

As the number of permanent positions dwindles, the number of adjunct positions is on the rise—an estimated 75% of professors nationwide now work on some form of contingent contract. English departments are sadly at the forefront of this trend. Whether called adjunct, visiting, or temporary, these faculty are less likely to have health insurance, to take part in curriculum planning, and to enjoy academic freedom. While the persistent stereotype of a college professor is a tweed-wearing, Volvo-driving, upper-middle class man, the average adjunct teacher is a woman pulling in just $2,987 per three-credit course. Many profs are on public assistance.

The NCTE peer-reviewed journal Forum: Issues about Part-Time and Contingent Faculty is dedicated to considering how these conditions impact both teachers and students. Contributors explore what it means to teach writing, literature, and communication under this system. They analyze the effects of ongoing reforms and propose new approaches. They are making some much needed noise. Forum is one of the very few publications in English dedicated to shining a light on the concerns of contingent faculty, and NCTE makes it free to access via our website.

As the editor of Forum, I’m especially excited to mentor adjunct, graduate, and junior scholars with an interest in the intersections of English studies, pedagogy, and labor. If you have an idea for an article, I hope you’ll drop me a line: @amylynchbiniek on Twitter or lynchbin@kutztown.edu.

It’s easy for us teachers to feel overwhelmed in the face of so many challenges. But I’m convinced by the excellent work of organizations like The New Faculty Majority and many others around the country that we can make a difference when we keep writing back, speaking up, and acting up.  Join me in making some noise!

Amy Lynch-Biniek is the Coordinator of Composition and an associate professor of Composition at Kutztown University, part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. She is the current editor of Forum: Issues about Part-Time & Contingent Faculty.