This post was written by NCTE member Grace Eunhye Lee.
As a first-time attendee at the NCTE Convention, I arrived in Houston with anticipation to learn, to be filled with empowerment, and to meet so many talented educators across the nation.
This hope for personal and professional growth was met with incredible speakers and presenters who were sharing their life-changing stories and personal reflections about our current educational state. From Chimamanda Adichie’s message about how literacy education is hope for our humanity, to Christopher Emdin’s dynamic speech about the need to raise our students’ voices, to hearing the heartfelt voices of those students themselves—these experiences brought tears of joy and inspiration for all of us who were filled with the same passion for elevating students’ voices.
In session after session, I learned to value my profession, and to bear a sense of pride that I am part of this multitude of educators. As Peter Reynolds said, “Your voice can inspire, heal, and transform. Your voice can change the world. Are you ready to say something?”
In addition, as a current recipient of an NCTE Kent D. Williamson Policy Fellowship and an ELA teacher at Hinckley Big-Rock Middle School, I was grateful for having been invited to be one of the session speakers to present and talk about my research proposal on community and advocacy research.
My session was more than I had anticipated, as it included renowned professors and a doctoral candidate like me, with similar research interests in helping our students receive the most optimal education, regardless of which communities they are part of.
All of us at the session freely discussed how best to support the needs of students, especially those in underrepresented and marginalized student populations. This much needed conversation helped us to realize that in the end, all students matter, and their identities must be valued and encouraged for the best educational outcomes.
At the end of the convention, like thousands of educators, my heart and mind were filled with hope and conviction for our students. We have come as a community of learners to embrace wisdom and value of students’ voices. No matter where we teach and whose lives we are touching with compassionate hearts, the messages are clear:
- Literacy education is hope for our humanity.
- We amplify and empower students’ voices to transform the world.
- Literacy is the catalyst for creating change.
- From striving to thriving, educators must connect.
Grace Eunhye Lee is a current NCTE Kent D. Williamson Policy Fellow, a teacher at Hinckley Big-Rock Middle School in Big Rock, Illinois, and a graduate student at the University of Illinois.