This post was written by NCTE President-Elect Alfredo Celedón Luján.
When we learned we could not hold our Convention in Denver due to COVID-19, no one was more disappointed than I. After two years of planning and working toward the “¡Confluencia/Songs of Ourselves!” theme—and developing a vision for the confluence of English language arts—I was devastated to know that we wouldn’t convene in person to see this concept take shape. Like a flash flood in an arroyo/wash, COVID-19 changed the landscape.
We will still hold the Convention, yet in a very different format. There is hope and reconstruction after the deluge—the seeds that were carried in the current will spring up online. Unlike 1942, the one other year when NCTE’s Convention cancelled, we can still host a Convention, thanks to 21st century technology. For that, I am grateful.
We have studied how we can make a dynamic experience come to life virtually. I’m excited! This week, we are sharing information with participants who were accepted to the original program. However, going virtual unfortunately means a smaller program. Due to the nature of creating virtual events and accompanying budgetary constraints, only 40% of the accepted sessions could be on the virtual program. Creating this event and its sessions is not as simple as recording oneself with a cell phone or camera. This is hugely disappointing because every proposal I’ve read is excellent. As I read through the proposals, I wanted to make sure there was a confluence of new and established voices, a representation of all sections, a cross-section of regions, and multi-cultural/multi-lingual presentations. I asked for input from section chairs and representatives-at-large, and then had to narrow the field down to 398 from 1,045 sessions. The virtual Convention will host many new and established voices in three session formats: live, on-demand, and sampler. The 2020 Convention will be robust with diversity and energy. I am so looking forward to it!
So what’s next? In the next month or so, NCTE will release details about the new format and the amazing (like wow!) speakers we will offer this year. We’ll open registration then, too. We are moving as quickly as we can, with great care to build a dynamic event. Please stay tuned for more details—we look forward to celebrating “¡Confluencia/Songs of Ourselves!” together, with you, in November.
Alfredo Celedón Luján
2020 Program Chair