Get Ready for Spirited Inquiry - National Council of Teachers of English
Back to Blog

Get Ready for Spirited Inquiry

These comments from NCTE President-Elect Leah Zuidema, program chair for the 2019 Annual Convention, appear in the 2019 NCTE Convention Preview.


This Convention on Spirited Inquiry was planned to help you rekindle your passion for literacy education. It’s a place to discover new ideas and rediscover the heart of your teaching. It’s a space where you can pause, give a second thought, take notice, question, puzzle, and delight.

By investing in your own growth while you are here, you are investing in your students, too. The Convention lets you give back to your colleagues as well: by giving one another your full attention, asking bold questions, sharing ideas, and building and renewing relationships.

What questions are fueling your inquiry this year in your teaching? In your writing? In your reading? What do you wonder about your students? About your school? Your community?

Some of the questions that sparked this year’s program started like this:

  • How can our curricular designs, learning environments, teaching methods, and assessments foster inquiry?
  • How do we ensure significant opportunities for inquiry for ALL students?
  • What can we learn about inquiry from our students? From our school colleagues who teach in other disciplines or offer academic support? Our communities?
  • How can digital tools help to spark inquiry for students and teachers?
  • What does it mean to take an inquiry stance as an ELA teacher, professor, or educator?
  • What does our teacher-research and other scholarship suggest about inquiry?
  • How do we help one another to wonder about things that matter, to learn more, and to share, connect, and act upon what we learn?
  • What do we do when our inquiries lead us to disagree with others’ ideas and conclusions?
  • How can we prepare future teachers to nurture a spirit of inquiry in their students and themselves?
  • How can we sustain and grow our inquiry? Our awe and delight as learners?

Throughout this Convention, let’s dare to wonder, to be bold and creative in our curiosity. Let’s focus deeply and persistently on the role that spirited inquiry plays in English, language arts, literacy, and composition. Let’s make concrete plans to share with others when we return to our schools. Let’s ask questions that matter, and commit to keep asking. Our students depend on us to be curious and stay spirited!



Leah Zuidema is associate provost, dean for curriculum & instruction, and professor of English at Dordt College, Iowa, and is NCTE President-Elect.