2023 TYCA Conference Call for Proposals - National Council of Teachers of English

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Call for Proposals: Two-Year College Association 2023 National Conference

Growing Down to the Roots

Submit a Proposal

Date and Location
February 15, 2023
Chicago, Illinois
Offered in connection with CCCC 2023

Proposal Deadline
Monday, October 3, 2022, 9:00 a.m. ET


Call for Proposals

W. E. B. Du Bois describes a college as a community “of human beings, learning of the things they do not know from things they do know in their own lives.” In every class and in every action we take as teachers, we engage with the larger purposes and contexts of our institutions and of our students’ lives. Our 2022 conference examined those efforts through a lens of recovery and reinvention as we emerged from a time of crisis. TYCA 2023 offers us another space to name and examine our best efforts to grow and expand our practice, engage with our students’ lives as they are lived (and not as we imagine them or wish them to be), and think toward a collective understanding of what it is we’re trying to do together.

“Growth” is one of those slippery words—we all desire it, but we’ll soon disagree about what it means. And we might discover that growth is a vehicle for educational violence, that it might mean displacement or replacement, welcome or unwelcome transformations. Growth is inevitable, and we do our best to channel it toward what feels like flourishing.

Two-year colleges have been a focus of one specific measure of growth: getting more people to obtain a post-secondary credential. Thanks to Common Core, a dominant mantra in our nation’s K–12 system is to make students “college and career ready.” On one hand, there is a democratic openness to these kinds of goals—name a broadly-held objective and let people figure out what other meanings to make out of it. On the other hand, these goals foreclose discussion of the broader goals of education, of collective problems and collective responsibilities. Our problems are public, but meaning has been made a private matter.

To nurture conversations about public flourishing, we might turn to past efforts at naming purposes of and creating metaphors for higher education. One such guiding light might be Du Bois. In an address at Howard University in 1933, Du Bois proposed that Black colleges grow “down to the roots,” that is, orient themselves not toward elite ends but toward real life experiences and challenges, the “thought and expression of lower classes.” He frames this direction of growth as a question of survival for a whole civilization:

Human culture in its broadest and finest sense can never be wholly the product of the few. There is no natural aristocracy of man [sic], either within a nation or among the races of the world, which unless fed copiously from without can build up and maintain and diversify a broad human culture. A system, therefore, of national education which tries to confine its benefits to preparing the few for the life of the few, dies of starvation.

In the two-year college, we are decidedly not preparing the few for the life of the few. But what are we doing? Some of our curriculum and much of our structure comes to us by way of elite tradition, and the vast majority of our students are in our classes because of general education requirements. Our locations invite, tacitly or explicitly, engagement with the age-old question, “Why do I have to take this class?” When students ask this, let us also hear “In what ways will this class—English at my two-year college—contribute to public flourishing, to a better life not just for me but for a better world?”

And here, too, we can learn not only from the past but also very much from the present, especially the many, many efforts outside of school, the community organizations and youth-led activism working toward human flourishing. How do we make this work visible in our classrooms? How can this work inform our educational policies and structures? 

Du Bois’s metaphor turns growth upside-down. At the two-year college, ourselves a foundation in so many ways for American higher education, we can nourish the public by seeking the roots, the vital and creative source of all flourishing. 

Proposals are invited on any matter touching on the work and purposes of two-year college English teaching, with special encouragement to tend both to the particulars of students’ lived experiences and the purposes of college more broadly. Please see below for some example questions and a discussion of the focus for presentations.

The deadline to submit proposals is Monday, October 3, 2022, 9:00 a.m. ET.

  • How do your students conceive of public flourishing? How might our instruction engage with students’ conceptions of public flourishing and also nourish their moral and public imaginations?
  • Language has become a focus of our professional efforts to grow and flourish. Du Bois noted the importance of language and of history to successful education. As he put it to his audience at Howard,
    •  a [Black] university in the United States of America begins with [Black Americans]. It uses that variety of the English idiom which they understand; and above all, it is founded, or it should be founded on a knowledge of the history of their people in Africa and in the United States, and their present condition. Without whitewashing or translating wish into facts, it begins with that; and then it asks how shall these young men and women be trained to earn a living and live a life under the circumstances in which they find themselves or with such changing of those circumstances as time and work and determination will permit. (90) 
  • How do you engage with your students’ idioms, or with their languaging, or their composing practices? How do you engage with students’ ideas about what it means to earn a living? To “live a life under the circumstances in which they find themselves”? How could this statement inform placement policies and practices? Where do two-year colleges see themselves in our decades-long professional conversation about Students’ Right to Their Own Language and in the fight for linguistic justice?
  • Du Bois puts the question of flourishing starkly: “Our problem is: How far and in what way can we consciously and scientifically guide our future so as to insure our physical survival, our spiritual freedom and our social growth? Either we do this or we die. There is no alternative.” (97) What present-day efforts at ensuring physical survival, spiritual freedom, and social growth could we use to “consciously and scientifically guide our future”?
  • In taking Du Bois’s thinking as a starting point for our own reflection, we have to face the fact that white people are overrepresented among two-year college English teachers. What kinds of policies, practices, and resources are effective in helping white faculty members understand their own racial formation and how it positions them in relation to their students and our profession? What policies and practices are successfully diversifying two-year college English faculty ranks? And how might thinking about our diverse racial identities inform a project of growing down to the roots?

Focus for Presentations 

Presentations do not need to explicitly discuss the conference theme, but they should address issues that are relevant to English studies professionals who support diverse college students in their first two college years. Participants do not need to be affiliated with a two-year college but should focus proposals on research and practices that are clearly relevant to TYCA members. Potential areas of exploration include (but are not limited to) first-year writing, developmental education, college reading, basic writing, information literacy, online teaching, writing centers and other learning assistance programs, teaching English to speakers of other languages, placement, literature, creative writing, intermediate composition, communications, linguistics, technical writing, business writing, professional development, teacher-scholar activism, community engagement, program administration and innovation, preparing to teach at a two-year college, labor organizing and its impacts on the two-year college classroom, and the roles of contingent faculty.

For Questions: Contact CCCCevents@ncte.org

To Stay Informed about the Conference: Announcements, updates, and reminders will be distributed through the TYCA listserv. Information about subscribing is available through the TYCA Archive Website: https://tycaarchive.wordpress.com/listserv/.

Submit a Proposal


Guidelines for Proposals

Proposal Criteria

Each conference presentation should meet the following criteria:

  • Is not part of an accepted session for CCCC 2023 or a repeat presentation from previous TYCA National Conferences. Proposals may, however, be based on a presentation made at a recent TYCA regional conference.
  • Focuses on teaching, writing center or learning assistance programs, program administration, or other work of two-year college English teacher-scholars;
  • Provides attendees with practical strategies for teaching English in the first two college years or engaging as a professional in the discipline;
  • Presents concepts and practices that are relevant to working with a wide range of diverse learners at open-admissions institutions;
  • Uses research or other evidence to support recommended practices.


Peer-Review Process

Conference presentations will be selected through a competitive, blind peer-review process that draws from the expertise of TYCA members. Reviewers will come from each of the TYCA regional affiliates and will also include teacher-scholars who are engaged in the profession at the national level. See the proposal review criteria for a more detailed overview of how reviewers will evaluate proposals.


Information for Authors of Proposals

  • Follow the required proposal format and provide all of the required information.
  • Select an appropriate session format based on the goals of your presentation, your proposed delivery methods, and the number of presenters. (See “Session Formats.”)
  • Write your proposal description for an audience of reviewers who are experienced two-year college teacher-scholars but who may be unfamiliar with your proposal topic.
  • Remove any personal identifiers for blind review. This means that the names and institutional affiliations for proposed speakers should appear only in the contact information section of the proposal.
  • Submit the proposal electronically through the NCTE conference proposal submission system.
  • Meet the deadline.
  • Look for notifications of acceptance, which will be sent by December.
  • Expect to register for the conference by the deadline indicated in conference invitations. Presenters must register and pay for the conference for their names to appear in the conference program.


See the Proposal Review Criteria for the TYCA National Conference


Session Formats

15-Minute Individual Presentation (one or two presenters)

A short presentation from one or two presenters about best practices or research findings. Individual presentations will be combined with two other presentations that focus on similar topics and/or areas of English studies. 15 minutes of each session will be reserved for questions and discussion with attendees.


60-Minute Panel Presentation (three or more presenters)

A session on a focused issue organized entirely by the authors of the proposal. Panel discussions should have at least three speakers who collaborate with each other to organize a cohesive session. Presenters may determine the format and delivery methods for the session based on the focus, purpose, and goals of the presentation but should leave time at the end of the session for questions or other interaction with the audience.


60-Minute Facilitated Discussion or Workshop Activity (at least two facilitators)

A brief overview of an issue, followed by an interactive discussion or activity OR a learning experience with a high level of participant interaction.

  • Discussion sessions should have two or more facilitators who provide an introduction to an issue or problem followed by an organized discussion or group activity. Most of the session should focus on interactive discussion or group work. Facilitated discussions and activities should have clear goals that attendees can accomplish within the allotted time. Sessions may include a large group discussion, small group breakout discussions or activities, or a combination of large and small group interactions.
  • Workshops should have two or more facilitators who provide attendees with hands-on activities that focus on practical strategies for teaching, taking action, doing scholarship, or engaging in other professional work. Attendees should be able to apply learning from the workshop to their own institutional contexts and leave the session with practical ideas or resources for enhancing their work as college English professionals.


Interactive Poster Presentation (one or more presenters)

A visual presentation with a scheduled time for interaction with attendees. Posters will be displayed on bulletin boards throughout the one-day conference. Poster presenters have a speaking role on the conference program, and they will have a scheduled time to engage with attendees in conversations about their work and answer questions. Posters can focus on any aspect of English studies but are especially appropriate for sharing a teaching strategy, work in progress, innovative idea, preliminary research results, or the application of a theoretical concept.

Required Proposal Information


Session Information for the Program

  • Title (160 characters)
  • Abstract (400 characters) A very brief summary of the session or individual presentation for the conference program.

Contact Information for Each Speaker


Speakers who do not have an institutional affiliation may identify themselves in another way (for example, as an independent scholar or retired member of the profession).

Unique Presentation

  • The proposed presentation is NOT part of an accepted session for CCCC 2023 or a repeat presentation from a previous TYCA National Conference. Proposals may present information previously presented at a TYCA regional conference.
  • The presenter is either an author or represents a commercial entity (e.g., a publisher or other for-profit company). Note: Nonprofits and government-funded agencies are not considered commercial entities.

Session Type

  • 15-minute individual presentation
  • 60-minute panel presentation
  • 60-minute facilitated discussion or workshop activity
  • Interactive poster presentation

Relevance to the Conference (50 words)

Explain how the presentation addresses issues or practices that are relevant to the work of two-year college teacher-scholars.

Target Audience (20 words)

Identify one or more constituent group(s) within TYCA or CCCC who would be interested in your presentation (for example, first-year writing teachers, online teaching, writing center directors, writing program administrators, literature instructors, integrated reading and writing instructors, etc.)

Session Description

Write a detailed description of the session or presentation that includes the following information:

  • The purpose, learning objectives, or goals of the session
  • An overview of the research, evidence-based teaching strategies, and/or best practices presented in the session
  • A short outline or description of what will happen during the session
  • An explanation of how the presentation will actively engage attendees in discussions or other activities (not required for a 15-minute individual presentation)

Guidelines for Session Descriptions

  • Remove personal identifiers and institutional affiliations for blind review. Do not refer to presenters by name.
  • For panel sessions that include individual presentations, identify separate presentations (for example, “Speaker 1” and “Speaker 2”) and provide titles for each presentation.

Word Count Limits for Session Descriptions

  • 15-minute individual presentation (4000 characters)
  • 60-minute panel presentation (40000 characters)
  • 60-minute facilitated discussion or workshop activity (4000 characters)
  • Poster presentation (4000 characters)

Sponsored Session (optional)

Please enter a group name if the session is sponsored by a TYCA regional affiliate, a CCCC standing group or SIG, or another professional group affiliated with NCTE.

Submit a Proposal