Institute - National Council of Teachers of English

How do I take my instruction to the next level?


For more than a decade, 21c Louisville has been engaging visitors and locals alike with some of the world’s best contemporary art.

Join us and veteran teachers Leila Christenbury and Ken Lindblom in answering this question in an unforgettable event that will advance your practice and transform your classroom! NCTE’s Summer Institute is informed by more than 70 years of combined classroom experience, a large body of research in the discipline, and the collective expertise of a broad network of English educators.


Held in the beautiful 21c Museum Hotel in downtown Louisville on historic West Main Street, this Institute is both a celebration of and a call to action for veteran English teachers, and will ensure that you


  • reenergize yourself by rethinking your role as a veteran English teacher.
  • discover advanced approaches to teaching reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
  • develop a firmer understanding of how to responsibly navigate controversial topics without avoiding them.
  • explore new technologies, including social media platforms, that can electrify your classroom in exciting, relevant ways for you and your students.
  • meet like-minded colleagues from many states who can refresh your thinking.
  • build a lasting professional network to strengthen your efforts (and sense of humor) as you walk this continuing journey called teaching English.


Most teachers give give give—to their students, to their school communities, to their friends and families. If this describes you, this summer give yourself the gift of renewal. Come to the 2020 CTJ Summer Institute and connect with veteran teaching colleagues from all over the country.  It’s your time: learn, share, and recharge.  

This year’s Institute is broken into two sessions which can be attended individually or together (content will not be duplicated between the two). Here is a brief description of the thematic focus for each session: 


Session 1Literary and Informational Texts: Reading/Writing about Literature (June 25–27)

Come challenge yourself in an active, supportive environment of veteran teachers. Explore how to rethink your role in the classroom and how to intensify student engagement. Learn about effective approaches to classic literature—such as triangulated writing assignments, using primary historical documents, and adding informational nonfiction text sets to drama and fiction. Examine ways to teach new genres—such as memes, blogs, social media discourse, and new media and literary nonfiction. In small and large settings, share and learn from savvy, friendly colleagues from across the country and engage in hard conversations about teaching in today’s world: post-truth critical thinking, culturally responsive education for all students, and strengthening the courage all veteran English teachers need. Leila and Ken share their experience and facilitate engaging conversations and activities in a lively and collegial format. Some of Leila and Ken’s well-known friends in the field will also stop by to share their wit and wisdom to inspire us all.

All participants will take home a copy of Continuing the Journey: Becoming a Better Teacher of Literature and Informational Texts, Continuing the Journey 2: Becoming a Better Teacher of Authentic Writing, a comprehensive presenter handout packet, and a personalized certificate of attendance for 15 CPUs.


Session 2Writing, Speaking, and Listening: Teaching Communication Today (June 28–30)

Audience-responsive communication means writing, speaking, and listening in ways that respect, honor, and follow the language traditions and expectations of real people. Too much of literacy instruction in the past has been based on laboratory models of what some authorities believe are the best ways to talk and write. Join veteran colleagues as we discuss effective approaches to real-world writing and speech, and learn about how language functions in today’s powerful formal and informal contexts. Explore with us how technology-enabled communication has changed what students need to know to be successful interlocutors; how to encourage respectful and yet still critical discussion; how to manage discussions on important, real-world topics that can be passionate, even heated; and how to value deep listening for intelligent learning and writing. Work with colleagues from across the country to understand how various forms of English function in the classroom and how we can ensure that our students can wield standardized English and other forms effectively to suit their own purposes. A few of Ken and Leila’s friends from the field will also present on specialized topics to help us energize our English classes.

All participants will take home a copy of Continuing the Journey 2: Becoming a Better Teacher of Authentic Writing, Continuing the Journey 3: Becoming a Better Teacher of Language, Speaking, and Listening, a comprehensive presenter handout packet, and a personalized certificate of attendance for 15 CPUs.


Why We Need This Institute Now


Teaching English well has always required bravery. To be relevant, teaching English today requires different skills than it did even just five years ago, skills that are critical to our students’ informed participation in society.

A literate population depends on the work we do and how well we do it within the changing landscapes in which we work. Now more than ever, the wisdom and insight of veteran teachers is crucial to our ongoing, effective classroom instruction.

It’s time to use your experience—and to share it with others—to go bold and try new things:

  • Teach challenging texts.
  • Engage with new media, a central facet of teaching critical literacy.
  • Help students to apply ethical and critical thinking to the tools they use for composition.
  • Broaden the genres, types, and intended audiences for which your students learn to write.
  • Foster strong communication skills, both written and verbal, as well as the capacity for deep listening. 

These are hard, but necessary, things that we as veteran teachers must do.

This Institute will teach you how.


“Teaching is unique in that the longer you do it, the more you know you have so much left to learn. It’s not easy to continue this journey, but it’s worth the effort. Every blister, every sprained ankle, every aching muscle is a reminder of how many miles we’ve come and how many lives we’ve touched along the way. For this reason especially we keep walking.”

Leila Christenbury and Ken Lindblom

About the Presenters


Both Ken and Leila are veteran English teachers who are passionate about staying current with their teaching skills and helping other teachers improve their practices. They have successfully collaborated for some years on a number of projects and bring, between them, both a shared commitment to teaching excellence and different perspectives on a variety of topics.



Leila Christenbury is Commonwealth Professor Emerita at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, where she has taught English methods, young adult literature, applied English linguistics, and the teaching of writing. A past president of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and a past editor of English Journal, her research has been recognized by the David H. Russell Award, the James N. Britton Award, and the Edward B. Fry Book Award. An active member of NCTE for more than 40 years, she has taught in Virginia high schools and universities for most of her career.



In his thirty-first year as a teacher, Ken Lindblom is Professor of English at Stony Brook University, where he teaches courses in English teacher education and rhetoric. A member of NCTE since 1989 (when he taught high school English in upstate New York), Ken was editor of English Journal from 2008 through 2013. He is coauthor of four books about teaching English and more than two dozen articles, book chapters, and peer-reviewed blog posts on the subject.



Special Guests


Coming Soon!

Nuts and Bolts

If you are a veteran English teacher, beyond the first-year jitters and ready to focus fully on the success of your students and your own professional growth, this Institute is for you.

If you’re a mentor, senior colleague, department chair, or school leader who supports teachers in their first 10 years in the classroom, thank you! You are so important to helping them continue the journey. In this Institute you’ll learn new ways to strengthen your role in that work.

Imagine you’re stepping into an Ideal Teachers’ Lounge for three days. In that Ideal Teachers’ Lounge, real support is offered. Everyone in the room is there to offer advice, encouragement, and signposts pointing to innovations you can use in your classes. Through a workshop approach and with the voices of teachers from across the country, Ken and Leila will help you dive deeply into fresh ways to teach texts, inspire writing, and share wisdom and expertise with each other. And we wouldn’t be surprised if some of Leila and Ken’s friends from the field stopped by . . . .


Schedule Overview


Session 1Literary and Informational Texts: Reading/Writing about Literature

Thursday, June 25

4–7 p.m.

Welcome, Introduction, and Dinner (included in registration)


Friday, June 26

9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Explorations of New Approaches to Reading and Writing

(Lunch included in registration. Tuesday night dinner will be on your own or in groups.)


Saturday, June 27

8 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

Practical Realities and Brave Next Steps

(A box lunch will be provided.)


Session 2—Writing, Speaking, and Listening: Teaching Communication Today

Sunday, June 28

4–7 p.m.

Welcome, Introduction, and Dinner (included in registration)


Monday, June 29

9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Explorations of New Approaches to Writing, Speaking, and Listening

(Lunch included in registration. Tuesday night dinner will be on your own or in groups.)


Tuesday, June 30

8 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

Practical Realities and Brave Next Steps

(A box lunch will be provided.)

Conference Registration:

Advance Rate: $1,030 for each individual session (applicable until April 30)

Regular Rate: $1,235 for each individual session (applicable May 1–May 25)

Double Session Discount Rate: $1,850 for both sessions 


Registration for each session includes

  • one dinner and two lunches.
  • personalized certificate of attendance for 15 CPUs.
  • two Continuing the Journey books.
  • comprehensive presenter handout packet.

Lodging: $159 per night at the 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky.

Graduate Credit (optional): One credit will be available through San Diego State University for each session of the Summer Institute. An additional written assignment and fee will be required. 

The 21c Museum Hotel is offering a very reduced room rate ($159 per night) to Institute attendees. 

Reservations for the event must be made by individual call in. Call Reservations at 877-217-6400, or the Hotel directly at 502-217-6300. Tell the Reservations department that you are with the National Council of Teachers of English in order to receive the discounted rate. 

Reservations must be made by the cut-off date of Monday, May 25, 2020.

What participants say about the NCTE Summer Institute: 


“Worth every penny, every minute of my time. The people, the information, the resources—priceless.”

Jennifer Ehlers, Cincinnati Public Schools


“The CTJ Institute was phenomenal! Leila and Ken turned a group of strangers into a community and, indeed, created the ultimate collaborative team teachers’ lounge where everyone was accepted, encouraged, validated, and challenged. I can’t wait to do it again!”

Jana L. Rieck, Champlin Park High School, MN


“It is so empowering to share with like-minded veteran colleagues from across the country because it is a reminder that we are NEVER alone.”

Leah Johnson, Rugby Public Schools, ND


“This is a conference that is near and dear to my heart. It is a source of encouragement first, and ideas spring from that support.”

Renee Thunell, Archdiocese of Newark Immaculate Heart Academy, NJ


“‘Friends Along the Journey’ is an apt title for the experience. I left with connections to multiple new teacher-friends and armed with a wealth of resources for the next leg of my teacher journey.”

Diane Mora, Kansas City Public Schools, MO


It was a great place to trade ideas with and be rejuvenated by colleagues in the field. Presenters were full of enthusiasm and good actionable ideas that I will be using in my classroom in the fall.”

Andrew W. Baird, The Kent School, CT


“Thank you for an incredible conference! I feel honored to be among such passionate, creative, and talented educators. Attending this institute raises the bar for me and gives me the freedom and permission to follow my instincts, take risks, and bring my classroom alive in the ways I know students need. Game changer! Paradigm shifter! Re-affirming, rejuvenating experience!”

Kate McCook, Littleton High School, MA


“The NCTE workshop is an excellent opportunity for all English teachers to be able to come together and share great strategies and best practices for teaching literacy. It gives us that chance to listen and learn new ideas to increase student engagement and build confidence when it comes to literature as a whole. Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity!”

Levasia Darden, Maya Angelou Public Charter School, Washington, DC


“Ken and Leila are dynamic speakers and facilitators. The conference was advertised as rejuvenation and it was.”

Kathy Judge, Bishop McGuinness Catholic HS, OK


“A great workshop with practical and real facilitators in Ken and Leila that offered keen insight and resources to support all teachers so that students can learn from us.”

Alfonso Strong, Equality Charter School, Bronx, NY


“This was an incredible opportunity to really rethink my practices as a teacher and to engage with a community of incredibly reflective and dedicated professionals.”

Anna Lubowitz, New York, NY


“I leave this conference with renewed spirit, love of the profession, and new friends from around the world. I sometimes dread the first day of school. Now I can’t wait to bring everything I’ve learned and gained to my classes this coming year.”

Johanna Buckels, St. Matthew Catholic School, San Mateo, CA


“This is truly an inspirational and invigorating experience for veteran teachers. Quality professional development is difficult to find at our level. This experience is worth traveling for.”

Pamela Doiley, McCormack Middle School, MA


“Timely, informative, and fun! What a treat to share ideas and inspiration with like-minded veteran teachers. I’ve never been to professional training where I felt more understood and appreciated for what I do as a teacher.”

Molly Stephenson, Kirkwood School District, MO


“This workshop was incredibly uplifting and affirming as we work in such a challenging field.”

Anne Shealy, South Carolina Department of Education