Research in the Teaching of English
RTE is the flagship research journal of NCTE.
Research in the Teaching of English
Vol. 53, No. 2, November 2018
Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, Amy Stornaiuolo, and Gerald Campano
Lamar L. Johnson
In this article, I propose Critical Race English Education (CREE) as a theoretical and pedagogical construct that tackles white supremacy and anti-black racism within English education and ELA classrooms. I employ autoethnography and counterstorytelling as methods that center my multiple identities and lived realities as I document my racialized and gendered experiences in relation to my journey to Ferguson, MO, and my experiences as a secondary ELA teacher. The search questions guiding this study are the following: (1) As a Black male English educator and language and literacy scholar, how am I implicated in the struggle for racial justice and what does it mean for me to teach literacy in our present-day justice movement?; (2) How are Black lives mattering in ELA classrooms?; and, (3) How are we using Black youth life histories and experiences to inform our mindset, curriculum, and pedagogical practices in the classroom?This article explicates findings from three interconnected stories that work to show how CREE can be operationalized to better understand the #BlackLivesMatter movement in its historical and contemporary dimensions. The data analyzed stem from my autobiographical narratives, observations, social media artifacts, and images. I aim to expand English education to be more synergistically attuned to racial justice issues dealing with police brutality, the mass incarceration of Black people, and legacies of grassroots activism. This analysis suggests implications that aim to move the pedagogical practices around the intersections of anti-blackness and literacy from the margins to the center of discussion and praxis in ELA contexts.
Jo Worthy, Catherine Lammert, Stacia L. Long, Cori Salmerón, and Vickie Godfrey
Educators and researchers from a range of fields have devoted their careers to studying how reading develops and how to support students who find reading challenging. Some children struggle specifically with learning to decode print, the central issue in what is referred to as dyslexia. However, research has failed to identify unique characteristics or patterns that set apart students identified as dyslexic from other readers with decoding challenges. Nevertheless, an authoritative discourse that speaks of a definitive definition, a unique set of characteristics, and a specific form of intervention saturates policy and practice around dyslexia, and teacher educators are under increasing pressure to include this state-sanctioned information in their classes. Literacy educators’ experiences teaching reading in schools and preparing literacy professionals can add valuable perspectives to the conversation about dyslexia; however, currently their voices are largely silent in conversations around dyslexia research, policy, and practice. The current research was designed to address this gap through an intensive interview study, in which we employed a Disability Critical Race Studies framework, along with Bakhtin’s notions of authoritative and internally persuasive discourse to explore the perspectives, understandings, and experiences of literacy teacher educators regarding dyslexia.
Valerie L. Marsh
To counter inequitable, hierarchical classroom structures, research in the fields of language and literacy studies often looks to the affordances of online spaces, such as affinity spaces, for learning that is collaborative and knowledge that is distributed; yet, researchers continue to locate their studies in virtual spaces, outside classroom walls. This study, situated in a high school writing class, repositions the familiar classroom practice of peer feedback as a way to access affinity space features. Using qualitative case study design and grounded theory analysis, the study reveals that, when supported by an emphasis on social connection, the practice of peer feedback served as a portal for students with a range of writing experience and interest to collaborate and exchange honest feedback, practices indicative of affinity space features. Yet, traditional expectations preserved teacher roles and student roles in ways that prevented the class from more fully accessing the affinity space features of distributed expertise, porous leadership, and role flexibility. Discussion expands the field’s understanding of affinity spaces and their application in physical classrooms by outlining new features, theorizing these classroom spaces, and advocating for a reimagined vision of peer feedback in ELA classrooms where role reciprocity and flexibility resist traditional, inequitable classroom structures.
Essays by Black Girls’ Literacies Collective; Tom Fox, National Writing Project; and Tarajean Yazzie-Mintz with Nahrin Aziz-Parsons, Danielle R. Lansing, Yuliya Manyakina, and R. Cyndi Pyatskowit
Collectivities matter. The power of the collective is important for the research that we conduct, the ways that we write about “the word and the world” (Freire & Macedo, 1987), and the methods that we use to study language, literature, literacies—and the lives of students, teachers, and society. Even when research in the teaching of English is not specifically radical or activist in scope, much of it is conducted with others. While traditions of research collaboration are nothing new in social science inquiry, what strikes us about today’s emerging collectives is their intentionality, the ways that solidarities are negotiated inside and outside of the collective, and their expressed commitments not only to conducting research together, but also to living, doing, and making meaning together. In this issue, we invited members of three self-described collectives—the Black Girls’ Literacies Collective (BGLC), the American Indian College Fund’s Tribal College and University (TCU) early childhood education initiatives, and the National Writing Project (NWP)—to comment on contemporary collective action in reading, literacy, and English education. We are inspired by the BGLC’s expressed commitment to the liberation of Black girls and women by “bringing to the forefront research and practice that call out and work against educational harm toward Black women and girls, while simultaneously promoting their social and academic success.” We are heartened by the NWP’s solidarity with overburdened educators in an era of standardization and neoliberal reform. And we are buoyed by the purposes and processes by which the American Indian College Fund’s TCU early childhood education initiatives “move from concept to actualization” through the “collective work within TCUs and tribal communities, as well as across TCUs and tribal communities”—in short, a collective of collectives. In all three of this issue’s In Dialogue essays, we find much to inform our own work together as a new editorial collective. We trust that others will be similarly enlightened.