This past weekend, I witnessed more than 100 teachers in Dublin, Ohio, enmeshed in professional learning—by choice, on a Saturday. What were they doing? Sharing formally and informally the books they are reading for professional learning and the books they recommend including in their instruction:
- Books that encourage students
- Books that challenge students
- Books that are highly relevant and consistently offer opportunities for students to see themselves and to see others
The same teachers also waited in line to purchase books to grow their classroom libraries—a line so long that the bookseller told me it was the most books she’d ever sold in a two-hour period. This is even more remarkable when you consider the fact these teachers were spending their own money to provide their students with access to books that matter to them.
This type of commitment to students, to books, to professional growth is the norm among NCTE members.
This commitment has a powerful impact on the students they teach. This was evident in one of my favorite features of this event: handmade labels on the water bottles. Students drew a book cover interpreting their favorite book, complete with the author’s name, as a way to share their own book knowledge with the teachers. With a professional learning event chock full of wonderful things, why was this my favorite?
Because students were at the heart. Because teachers instinctively made this happen. Because it represents a community of learners working together—teachers and students.
The entire month of April was filled with examples like the one I’ve just shared in which our members helped each other to grow:
- We partnered with the Library of Congress to host a webinar about transcribing Whitman in which NCTE Vice President Alfredo Luján shared lessons and voices from his classroom and NCTE Past President Jocelyn A. Chadwick helped to lead a think-aloud discussion around an excerpt of Whitman’s text.
- More than 70 members gathered in Washington, DC, for our Advocacy and Leadership Summit, where they shared expertise with each other and with lawmakers through nearly 100 Hill visits.
- Twenty-five members wrote up resource-filled posts about their favorite poets that were shared with 750 members via NCTE Verse throughout Poetry Month.
And the learning continues! This summer we have many conferences and events taking place where members will share their wisdom:
- 2019 CCCC Summer Conference at Old Dominion University (May 30–31, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA)
- NCTE Summer Institute: Continuing the Journey (June 30–July 2, Providence, RI)
- 2019 Literacies for All Summer Institute (July 12–13, Columbia, SC)
- 2019 Affiliate Leadership Meeting (July 12–14, Washington, DC)
- 2019 ELATE Summer Conference (July 18–21, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville)
And of course, this fall we look forward to hosting our 108th Annual Convention in Baltimore, MD, where teachers will present at more than 600 concurrent sessions.
In a world that rarely gives teachers credit for the knowledge they bring to the profession, NCTE is an organization that exists because of that knowledge. Our work is to bring teachers together to share and elevate it. Every day I’m humbled by the countless ways in which our members generously offer their knowledge to each other.
We appreciate you, this week and always!