English Journal is NCTE's award-winning journal of ideas for English language arts teachers in junior and senior high schools and middle schools.
Columns and Column Editors
Beyond Binary Gender Identities sj Miller
Books in Review Michelle Zoss
From Campus to Classroom Marshall George
Critical Global Literacies Bogum Yoon
Journeys Inward Mary Ellen Dakin
Teaching Creative Writing Crag Hill
Teaching Shakespeare Laura B. Turchi and Ann C. Christensen
Column Editor: sj Miller
Associate Professor, Teacher Education
Teacher Academy, Santa Fe Community College
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Contemporary youth express gender identity in powerful and dynamic ways—in and out of school. Gender identity, the internal sense of how someone feels or experiences their gender, is constantly evolving and shifting, expanding the boundaries of language use and performance. As English teachers, it is our responsibility to center the lives of our students in our classrooms and schools in caring, respectful, and equitable ways. This responsibility includes advocating for students who question and contest cultural expectations of masculinity and femininity. It also includes ensuring that they are valued in all aspects of school and see themselves reflected in curricula, instructional choices, and educational policies. Currently, gender identity narratives are practically absent from the texts taught in high school English classrooms, and there are gaps in school policies that enumerate protections or validate multiple gender identities. We can change this together. The only pressing question is How?
This column invites writers to share the stories of how they recognize and affirm myriad gender identities in their classrooms and their schools and to offer concrete and creative suggestions for developing remarkably responsive language arts instruction. We also welcome stories of effort and struggle because we can learn from reflecting on both the challenges and triumphs of changing our thinking. A range of narratives that describe lessons, assignments, and educational practices that question and critique entrenched ideas about gender identity is necessary to address the kind of insensitivity that characterizes most educational settings. We have all been taught the “appropriate” social expectations for gender and gender identity, but by examining the effects of that instruction, working diligently to reject the gender identity binary, and being willing to learn from and support our students in their ever-evolving and dynamic expressions of gender identity, we can strengthen our schools and communities.
Inquiries, submissions, or suggestions for future columns should be directed to sj Miller at email@example.com. Submissions of 1,000–1,200 words should be sent as an attachment.
Column Editor: Michelle Zoss
Associate Professor of English Education
Georgia State University
Many of us are drawn to the teaching profession because it offers us daily opportunities to talk with other people—children, adolescents, and adults—about their thinking, especially what they think about the ideas and activities that interest them most. In these conversations, which may happen anywhere, we can learn about what people are making or doing, what they are reading, what surprises them, how they grapple with new information, and how they view the world or culture or themselves. Put simply, we can learn about what delights people and why. It is in moments of delight or surprise that we are open to new ideas, to rethinking, reimagining, renegotiating, or retooling. Teaching offers ample opportunities for surprise in conversations during work hours. But what about those times when we need something to rejuvenate and remind us why we got into the profession in the first place? We can turn to books.
This book review column is organized around two thematic questions: What delights and surprises us? What are we reading that sparks an idea about teaching in different, delightful ways? We invite writers to consider the books that have altered their thinking about the teaching life. We are especially interested in reviews of books that have influenced teachers’ beliefs about what might be possible in the classroom and the stories about how their thinking evolves with reading. A surprising idea can come from many sources and from unexpected directions; therefore, this invitation is intentionally broad. The column may feature books that do not fit easily into the category of “professional development.” We view the column as a forum for starting thoughtful conversations. Please contact Michelle Zoss to discuss ideas for the column or send your book review essays of 1,000–1,200 words as attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
Column Editor: Marshall George
Olshan Professor of Clinical Practice
School of Education
Hunter College, CUNY
New York, New York
Preservice teachers, practicum students, and teaching interns view the familiar landscape of the secondary English classroom from a different vantage point. Their current learning experiences—in and out of the classroom—offer opportunities to rethink understandings of their content, their future students, and their development as English teachers. By sharing their perspectives as they grapple with the complexities of ELA education, they extend and diversify the professional conversation while fostering their own growth as reflective practitioners. Their insights have the power to provoke veteran teachers and teacher educators to think differently, as well, revisiting familiar assignments, reconsidering current perspectives, and reexamining long-held beliefs about teaching and learning.
This column seeks to share the viewpoints of those poised to enter the classroom as they consider the nature of teaching and learning the English language arts. We invite preservice teachers and interns to contribute thoughtful first-person essays about navigating the theory and practice of ELA teaching as they interact with students and teaching colleagues. Essays may address any topic and may be coauthored with fellow preservice teachers, cooperating teachers, university supervisors, or professors. Authors might address such questions as, Why is the ELA content I will soon teach viable for 21st-century students? How do I engage with issues of justice, equality, and diversity, in and out of the ELA classroom? What do I consider the most pressing issues facing soon-to-be teachers? Essays grounded in the theory of ELA pedagogy are of particular interest.
Original submissions of 1,000–1,200 words should be sent as an electronic Word file to Marshall George at email@example.com. Inquiries about potential topics are welcomed and encouraged.
Column Editor: Bogum Yoon
Department of Teaching, Learning, and Educational Leadership
College of Community and Public Affairs
State University of New York at Binghamton
Joel Spring, who writes prolifically about American education and globalization, has noted that we live in an era in which “nothing is static.” Across the globe, nations, economies, and governing structures face incessant change, competition, and disruption. The dynamic social forces that undergird globalization spotlight its reliance on interdependence and intercultural awareness. The development of critical literacy practices that focus on global perspectives is central to preparing students to navigate this increasingly interconnected world. As English teachers, we might ask ourselves, “How do we invite our students to become socially responsible and critically conscious global citizens?”
Reading and writing activities that promote global awareness and cross-cultural understanding are important, but they need to be coupled with an emphasis on critical consciousness. A critical lens is fundamental if we are to be successful in opening an intellectual space for discussions of what it means to live in a world in which cultural boundaries are shrinking because of human migration, market practices, and advances in technologies.
This column invites essays that focus on global perspectives as an integral part of the secondary English curriculum. Topics that we are particularly interested in, but not limited to, include instructional frameworks that English teachers can use in the classroom to promote students’ global thinking and cross-cultural awareness with a critical stance; case studies that show how English teachers develop students’ critical global perspectives through various materials, including global literature; and instructional practices that demonstrate how English teachers can bring the world to the classroom.
Inquiries, submissions, or suggestions for future columns should be directed to Bogum Yoon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions of 1,000–1,200 words should be sent as attachments.
Column Editor: Mary Ellen Dakin
Retired English Teacher and Literacy Coach
Revere High School
In The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life, Parker J. Palmer asserts that teaching is composed of three essential knowledge bases: knowledge of our subject, knowledge of our students, and knowledge of ourselves. “Who is the self who teaches?” he asks; the search for answers to this question has the potential to transform our classrooms and our lives. English teachers work at the crossroads of the epic and the everyday. We wander with our students through the shifting terrains of literature, and we sometimes find that the texts we teach and the conversations they provoke challenge us to explore our own “inner landscapes.” These moments urge us to consider the kind of teacher we have been and also the kind of teacher we are becoming.
This column invites writers to craft authentic nonfiction narratives of self-discovery, redirection, and renewal. When have you seen your own life reflected in the literature you teach and paused to ponder the implications? What specific events, situations, texts, classes, or ideas challenged the teacher within and sent you on a journey toward some greater understanding of your subject, your students, your world, and yourself? Tell us the story of that journey. We are especially interested in lively, personal writing that shares specific classroom moments that inspired introspection, challenged your thinking, and pushed you to consider how who you are influences how you teach. We welcome submissions that showcase voice, sensory details, dialogue, and dynamic characterizations that encourage readers to reflect on their own teaching journeys.
Inquiries and submissions should be directed to Mary Ellen Dakin at email@example.com. Submissions of 1,500–1,800 words should be sent as an attachment.
Column Editor: Crag Hill
Associate Professor of English Education
Department of Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum
Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education
University of Oklahoma
Creative writing can engage writers with all levels of the writing experience. In fact, creative writers produce work that speaks to and about their worlds. In important ways, creative writing can be a bridge from what is known to what could be knowable. It foregrounds choice, agency, and identity formation, encouraging students to grow as authors and as human beings. Opportunities for creative writing can expand spaces in curricula narrowed by the demands of testing and also invite diverse genres and multimodal forms and formats. Creative writing as pedagogy can address individual and societal concerns, engage community members through partnerships and collaborations, and enliven the classroom.
This column invites writers to consider how creative writing—in and outside of the classroom—can engage students as writers, thinkers, and activists. Each column will be a snapshot of a range of creative writing pedagogies and practices that English Journal readers will be able to implement in their classrooms in various teaching contexts. Submissions may include work by creative writing teachers as well as collaborative writing with visiting writers and poets. How have you adopted creative writing to include students’ backgrounds? How are communities—in and outside of school—part of creative writing assignments? How have you introduced creative writing to examine social justice literacies? In what ways has your creative writing curriculum evolved in response to curriculum mandates, changing expectations from school districts, and pressures connected to schooling?
Inquiries, submissions, or suggestions for future columns should be directed to Crag Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions of 1,000–1,200 words should be sent as attachments.
Column Editors: Laura B. Turchi and Ann C. Christensen
Laura B. Turchi, Assistant Professor, College of Education
Ann C. Christensen, Associate Professor, Department of English
University of Houston
Shakespeare’s plays, staples of the secondary English curriculum, are both “difficult” and rich in opportunity. This column asks about and offers ways in to Shakespeare’s works beyond starting with Act I, Scene i. It also serves as a forum for teachers to share instructional activities, innovative lessons, and useful tools they have developed to help students enter a Shakespearean text and dig deep. How do you assist students with Elizabethan English verse, promote their interest in complicated characters, or relate their worlds to the social worlds depicted in the plays?
Writers for the column should consider how the strategies they discuss are relevant to those teaching struggling readers and emergent English learners, as well as those teaching students with advanced literacy skills. We are especially seeking classroom narratives that push against equating a Shakespeare play with a summary of plot and characters or with watching the film version. We invite stories that illustrate the value of attending to language, movement, staging, and expression and that cast studying a Shakespeare text as an opportunity for students to explore identity and perform their understanding in innovative and multimodal ways. To complement these stories, we welcome classroom and student videos, podcasts, and other Shakespeare-inspired creations as posts to our Teaching Shakespeare group on NCTE Connects.
Questions to consider might include, When you teach Shakespeare plays, which scenes work best “on your feet”?; What film clips pop for discussion?; or How do you guide your students to use images, dictionary definitions, and period sources to complicate a reading of “Moor” for Othello, or the Prince of Morocco in The Merchant of Venice, or Aaron in Titus?
Inquiries, submissions, or suggestions for future columns should be directed to Laura B.Turchi at email@example.com or Ann C. Christensen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions of 1,000–1,200 words should be sent as attachments.
For general EJ Submission Guidelines, click here.