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 Dr. Mary Buckelew
The colleague who observed my Writing Research 200 course this past spring was “shocked” that students arrived early and were animatedly discussing the class texts and their own writing even before class started. She observed, “students seemed genuinely interested in each other’s perspectives on the assigned chapter from A Whole New Mind, and they were also sharing grammar tips with each other.”
Before teaching this particular introductory college writing research course, I polled several colleagues regarding methods for encouraging reading and discussion. I was surprised when they told me they gave multiple choice and short answer quizzes in their writing classes. Their rationale, if they didn’t quiz — students wouldn’t read the materials, and thus miss out on important information. Read more
By Janice Ewing & Mary Buckelew
Several of us had the good fortune to attend the National Writing Project and National Council of Teachers of English annual conferences, which were back-to-back in Boston from Nov. 20th to 24th. One of the NWP standout sessions for me was “Narrative Troubles (and that’s a good thing): On Why and How to Find, Shape, and Share Stories of Classroom Life.” I was drawn to this session because I believe that, more than ever, teachers need to support each other and advocate for themselves as a group. I also believe that this can start with sharing our stories. Read more