It’s NCTE Proposal Time! 6 Tips to Help You Join the Scrum. - National Council of Teachers of English
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It’s NCTE Proposal Time! 6 Tips to Help You Join the Scrum.

scrumimageScrum: a way of starting play again in which players from each team come together and try to get control of the ball (source:

In a recent video interview Jason Griffith, a teacher, doctoral student at Arizona State University, and member of the NCTE Middle Level Section Steering Committee, explained his  view of how presenting at NCTE’s Annual Convention is like taking part in a rugby scrum.

“I think that when we present at a convention like NCTE we join the scrum. So, rather than just standing on the sidelines and watching the game we actually have a little bit of a push to direct our field, in a way which I think is pretty neat. It’s that idea that what we bring to the Convention might actually transform someone else’s classroom.”

So what are you waiting for? Proposals are due on January 13, 2016. Here are 6 tips Jason offers for putting a strong proposal together.

  1. Find your excitement.
    When I start my own proposal process the one question that I ask myself is: what am I most excited about in my classroom? What am I doing right now in school? What am I working on? I look for that one idea that I’m super excited about. I describe that approach and how I went about implementing it and what was successful and what wasn’t successful.  That becomes the guts of the proposal.
  1. Look for connections.
    You don’t have to go it alone on a proposal. Think about your colleagues, your networks, your mentors. Who else is interested in this same topic? Consider working collaboratively on a proposal in which you’re all presenting together.
  1. Assign a point person.
    I think it’s important for one person to take charge of making sure that all the parts of the proposal are filled out. It’s especially helpful if that point person is someone who has NCTE experience. They can bring in others who are new to the system that way. It’s a great opportunity for mentorship.
  1. Use a collaborative writing tool.
    In the past when I was working with a group on a proposal, we’d trade a Word doc back and forth, but now things like Google Docs make this so much easier. If you haven’t used this before, now is a good time to try it out. Collaboratively editing a single doc in real time makes it possible to safety check the process and ensure that nothing critical gets left out. Also it makes it much easier to work with folks who aren’t in your immediate vicinity.
  1. Think through and describe what participants will get to DO.
    Oftentimes I’ll see really well written proposals but the writers never talk about how they’re actually going to use the time during their session. You’re going to be presenting to a room full of teachers who are used to leading and being actively engaged in discussion. It’s unlikely they’ve come to the convention just to sit and be talked at. So consider and then carefully describe how their time will be well spent.
  1. Wordsmith your way into the theme.
    A hallmark of a good convention theme is one that can include lots of different ideas, and this year’s focus on advocacy is no exception. I always go back to my original question: what exciting thing is going on in my classroom? What I’ve often found is that working backwards by answering that question first and then applying a few tweaks to the language, I can almost always find a way to come back around to the theme. This year’s theme holds a place for all of us. We’re all advocates for our students. We’re all advocates for our profession. The techniques we use in our classrooms get kids excited and empower them to be their own advocates. There are so many different ways to include the theme in celebrating and sharing the work that we do!