The theme of the 2016 National Council of Teachers of English was Faces of Advocacy. A theme that couldn’t have been more timely. NCTE’s call for proposals included the following: “Many times as educators, we feel defeated and incapable of making change of any sort. This [NCTE] conference is your opportunity to rise to the challenge of who you are as a teacher or teacher leader – celebrate and discuss the possibilities that lie ahead of us.” There was definitely celebration in finding a COMMUNITY of educators dedicated to a shared purpose – literacy, freedom, and agency for all. Advocacy. What are we doing to advocate and to inspire advocacy in our classrooms, buildings, community, and the world?
L to R: Mary Buckelew, Lynne Dorfman, Rita Sorrentino, Janice Ewing, Tricia Ebarvia, and Kelly Virgin
In this post, PAWLP Fellows Rita Sorrentino, Janice Ewing, Pauline Schmidt, Kelly Virgin, Patty Koller, and Tricia Ebarvia share some of their takeaways from this year’s NWP and NCTE conferences. We encourage readers to respond. Please share your strategies for teaching and inspiring advocacy and service. We also urge teachers to attend and present at local, regional, and national conferences to renew the professional spirit.
– Mary Buckelew Read more
By Janice Ewing
Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.
Mary Oliver (from “Sometimes”)
These are among my favorite lines from Mary Oliver, and I think that these “instructions” apply to poetry, too. Once again we find ourselves in April, Poetry Month. Many of us have considered the value of giving poetry its special twelfth of the year, versus reading, writing and enjoying it all the time. This year, I’m feeling a little more mellow about that issue. I’ve come to believe that we can immerse ourselves and our students in poetry through all seasons, and still take the month of April to celebrate it with fun and fanfare. Read more
By Bob Zakrzewski
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I became aware of Cline’s first novel a few years ago when a close friend and fellow English teacher raved about it. His rare enthusiasm made Ready Player One a title I kept stashed away in my memory, but also contributed to my falling into the dangerous trap of judging a book by its fanbase.
When this particular friend went on and on about this bildungsroman, dystopian, virtual-reality video-gamer adventure tale, I dismissed it. He is a gamer, and I am not. He loves Star Wars, obscure comics, and prog rock. I can appreciate these, but nowhere near the extent he or many of their avid enthusiasts do. This book sounded like something right up his alley, and something several blocks away from mine.
Last year, my curriculum supervisor sent out a message that she read the book and loved it, asking if any teacher would want to use it in class. Always open to trying new books with my students, I reconsidered the text. Read more
By Janice Ewing
Most PAWLPers don’t wait until New Year’s to engage in reflection and goal-setting; nevertheless, this time of year especially lends itself to those pursuits. For example, one PAWLPer said, “I firmly resolve to write something every day that is not just a compilation of events, but actual insights of life that I’ve noticed and contemplated.”
Here’s a sampling of some more of our Writing Resolutions, collected at our December Continuity and Leadership meetings: Read more
By Tricia Ebarvia
“What conference is it again?”
“Pic TELL ah,” I said more slowly.
“Really? That’s not a real conference,” my colleague teased.
All I could do was smile.
To the uninitiated, PCTELA―short for the Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of English Language Arts―might sound like something you would make up. Or, at the very least, just another one of the many educational acronyms in our lives: SAT, ACT, PVAAS, IEP, GIEP, RTI. I have to admit that until a few years ago, I had never heard of PCTELA either. In fact, when I first started teaching in 2001, I don’t think I had heard of many professional teacher organizations, if any. Or, if I did, they didn’t register with me. I was probably too busy just trying to stay afloat in the happy chaos of teaching.
Soon enough—and thankfully—other acronyms became part of my teaching life. NCTE, NWP, PAWLP—these were the acronyms that mattered. And now, of course, I can add PCTELA to that list. Read more
by Brenda Krupp
As I write this post I am celebrating a birthday, a birthday that pushes me closer to retirement, a birthday that makes me one of those teachers others approach and ask, “Was it always like this?’” That scares me, especially in light of this blog post topic: sustaining energy. I have to admit that it was not always like this. There were no SLOs, PARCC tests or PSSAs when I began my career. Teaching with “fidelity” meant something different. And, in the elementary school, children were children not cogs that needed to be prepped for the next, higher level. Teaching was tiring, but not energy zapping. So, how does one sustain energy in this era of teaching? On a recent evening, I got a glimpse of how. Read more