Field Notes: NCTE in Action - National Council of Teachers of English
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Field Notes: NCTE in Action

Last week NCTE had three different programs underway in the span of five days. (Who says teachers take summers off?) At each event I was impressed by the work taking place and inspired by the many ways in which our members are striving to learn and grow. Here are glimpses into the groundbreaking work last week!


Friends Along the Journey: NCTE Summer Institute
Providence, RI, July 9–11


Participants in the 2018 NCTE Summer Institute gather for a group shot.

Last week started with the opportunity to see something come to fruition that literally began with a request for two treasured members to consider returning to NCTE as their publishing home.

Leila Christenbury and Ken Lindblom led our first-ever NCTE Summer Institute with a wonderful group of teachers from across the country who gathered to think anew about teaching literary and informational texts. (About half the group is pictured in this photo.) The meeting was based on Leila and Ken’s recent NCTE book, Continuing the Journey: Becoming a Better Teacher of Literature and Informational Texts. Featured speakers included NCTE members Ebony Elizabeth Thomas and Jeffrey Cabusao. Participants also heard from the founders of #DisruptTexts and New York Times bestselling author Jay Heinrichs, among others. I witnessed participants grappling with the tensions between long-held traditions in our field and the need for fresh approaches that acknowledge the realities of today.

By all measures our first Continuing the Journey Summer Institute was a success. You can get a window into what transpired if you look up the #CTJ_PD hashtag. This tweet from a participant says so much: “You truly restored my faith in my teaching ability.” Ken and Leila are fabulous authors and did an excellent job leading the event, and each special guest, whether in person or via Zoom, brought important perspectives.


Whole Language Umbrella Literacies for All Summer Institute
Baltimore, MD, July 12–14


Pictured: Rosalie Friend, Aurelia Dávila de Silva (NCTE Middle Level Member-at-Large), Bess Altwerger, Jitu Brown (keynote speaker), Michele Myers, Roxanne Henkin (WLU President), and Jesse Turner
Pictured: Franki Sibberson (NCTE President-Elect) and Roxanne Henkin (WLU President)

It was wonderful to visit the Whole Language Umbrella Literacies for All Summer Institute and observe the positive and engaging things WLU President Roxanne Henkin is doing to elevate the core values of that group. This year they co-located their meeting with the Early Career Educators of Color Institute, and the learning exchange was dynamic. Keynote speakers included authors and illustrators Jonathan Bean and David Wiesner, community activist Jitu Brown, and longtime educators and collaborators Franki Sibberson (NCTE President-Elect) and Mary Lee Hahn. Many other NCTE members presented, and the important conversations started there continue!




Early Career Educators of Color Institute
Baltimore, MD, July 12–14


Pictured from top left: Janelle Jennings-Alexander, Jeffrey Cabusao (Program Mentor), America Moreno Jimenez, Erin L. Berry-McCrea, Kia Turner, Andy Chen, Anna J. Roseboro (Program Mentor), and Sarah Cole.

I joined the new Early Career Educators of Color cohort for what felt like too short of a visit during their Institute in Baltimore. I was struck by their energy and commitment to the field, as well as by the commitment of the leaders of this program, Anna J. Roseboro and Jeffrey Cabusao. At NCTE’s Annual Convention on Sunday, November 18 at 9 a.m., this program will celebrate its 10th anniversary. Be sure to stop by to meet the 2018 cohort in addition to incredible alumni. They will inspire you!


Folger Teaching Shakespeare Summer Institute
Washington, DC, June 24–July 20

On July 13 I visited with our friends at Folger and talked with the teachers gathered for their summer institute about the work of NCTE and the benefits of becoming a member. My case was greatly enhanced by the voices of current members in the room. I was struck by their perspectives on what authors gain by presenting at NCTE’s Convention (access to the brilliant perspectives of teachers!), creating book reviews, and increasing interest in more resources to build up the African American Read-In among high school students.



At each event I attended last week I was uplifted by the thoughtful work NCTE members are doing. In every setting I met teachers driven by a passion to support their students in the most current and effective ways possible. The future is bright!