Thousands of NCTE members understand the value of being involved at the state affiliate level. It’s an opportunity to build a professional network, take on a variety of leadership roles showcasing our talents, and have a meaningful role in ELA education for students. But, rather than spelling out specifics of affiliate benefits, we’ve opted to have some of our active affiliate members share their own journey—and that of their state group.
Lara Searcy and OKCTE
Lara Searcy is a former classroom teacher and now an assistant professor, English education specialist at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK. She has found a decade of encouragement and connections through NCTE and her state affiliate. She’s gone from participant, to presenter, to President-Elect for 2019 of Oklahoma Council of Teachers of English (OKCTE). She tells us,
When I was a novice high school teacher in Oklahoma, my department would submit student essays to the Young Writer’s Conference. I had a few student winners and always looked forward to attending the annual conference. This allowed me to network and connect with other English teachers across the state, so I developed great friendships and connected with many members on the Executive Board. Through their leadership, they encouraged me to get involved, and I have been on the Board for the past three years.
Each year, the annual OKCTE Fall Conference invites educators and students from across the state to share and learn new ideas. At the Spring Awards Ceremony, they celebrate winners of the Geraldine Burns Award for Excellence in English Education and the Young Writers Contest. The Oklahoma English Journal features practitioner, research, and student pieces, and a digital newsletter showcases voices from local student affiliates, classroom experiences, and book reviews.
OKCTE provides a community in which educators can discuss the latest research, discover what works in the classroom and what doesn’t, and engage and teach students so they will learn and enjoy learning. Opportunities to showcase personal and student work within a larger community allow members to give value to their practice both in and out of the classroom.
Joining an affiliate can bring a variety of benefits to members. It allows teachers to network with their professional learning community on a local level and build partnerships that address their unique needs and opportunities for advocacy. Being a member allows opportunities to attend and share at conferences. Searcy notes,
Seeing a room full of English teachers beyond those in just your school hallways provides an amazing awareness that we are all connected in this profession. Attending and presenting at OKCTE conferences has allowed me to gain perspective and ideas from others in a way that extends my own learning and teaching. Gathering together as a profession builds our Collective Teacher Efficacy and gives us the opportunity to encourage and support each other as we all prepare to teach our students.
It also builds the next generation of literacy learners.
“A state’s affiliate can grow student writers and give them an identity and authentic audience that encourages and promotes their growth as writers,” Searcy says. “OKCTE has an Annual Young Writer’s Conference, [which] provides teachers and students with an opportunity to publish their work as an important part of the writing process.”
Searcy also recognizes that joining a state affiliate is a bridge to becoming involved at the national level. “The Oklahoma group has hosted a dinner during the national conference for the past few years for members to join and network so the [NCTE Annual Convention] experience doesn’t feel quite so intimidating,” she says. “We also post on social media about who is attending and presenting so we can join and support one another.”
How to Get Involved
For those interested in affiliate leadership, most elected positions in state affiliates include the presidential chain—second vice president to first vice president to president to past president—treasurer; executive secretary; and recording secretary. Other positions may include webmaster, historian, vendor chair, public relations chair, parliamentarian, awards chair, nominations chair, and college, high school, middle school, and elementary school members-at-large.
We hope you’ll find inspiration in our affiliates’ efforts. If you’re involved at the state level, thank you! If you’re not, contact your affiliate so you can join in. If you need some help figuring out who to contact, visit the Affiliate page on the NCTE website.
It is the policy of NCTE in all publications, including the Literacy & NCTE blog, to provide a forum for the open discussion of ideas concerning the content and the teaching of English and the language arts. Publicity accorded to any particular point of view does not imply endorsement by the Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, the staff, or the membership at large, except in announcements of policy, where such endorsement is clearly specified.