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 Mary Buckelew
I think back to my childhood. I grew up in a teaching family. Our lives were governed by the rhythm of the school year. The rhythm is still comforting and familiar – the beginnings and endings. My father taught high school math and coached a variety of sports during his 40 year career as an educator. My dad left for work happy and came home exhausted but full of funny and loving stories about his students. When I was old enough to ask questions like “What do you like about your job?” My father was quick to tell me, “The students — I keep the kids at the center of what I do – then I can ignore all the rest, the administration, the school board, the well-meaning parents, the mandates that don’t make sense.”
By Meg Griffin
This question has been asked of me many times over the years. When applying to a school or a district or even socially, people would ask, “Why do you teach?” Growing up I had no desire to be a teacher. In social situations, the question, “Why do you teach?” often seemed to contain an underlying question, “Why don’t you do more?” In the 1960’s teaching was a passé female profession. We were women and we were supposed to reach for the pinnacle as lawyers, CEOs, doctors, or accountants, but certainly not teachers or nurses. THOSE jobs were for the women who had been held back and had not been able to achieve more. Read more
By Jolene Borgese
Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of teaching a ten day writing course to middle school students at the PAWLP Youth Writing Project. I had run the first Youth Writing Project on campus with about 50 writers and six teachers. We weren’t sure what we were doing back then but we knew we were on to something big! It was a success that bloomed into a huge project for 30 years.
This summer, my 12 writers were a mixed bag of pre-adolescents who wanted to come to writing camp, and others whose parents had signed them up. They all made the best of it. They caught my enthusiasm for writing, and, in their preteen coolness, actually showed they liked my activities. Read more
By Marlene Kimble
As a late bloomer in this profession – having stepped into a classroom for the first time at thirty five – I sat with a room full of bright- eyed 22 year olds fresh out of undergrad sitting at the district office eyes glazed over while the HR lady reviewed official documents and we signed on dotted lines. If you asked any of us why we were there, it would probably be a familiar response: I want to make a difference in the lives of children. It was true for me too. I was a mother and wife; I had been home for a number of years; and there didn’t seem to be any job important enough for me to leave my kids so I went back to school to do the job of teaching.
By Michael LoBiondo
As teachers, we follow different paths to our vocation, and formal education is a rich and colorful calling as a result. I became a PAWLP fellow because I believe that the “teachers-teaching-teachers” method is part of that mission. I teach today for the same reason that I did when I started out as a high school English teacher many years ago: to share a love of learning with my community.