Monday, November 25, 2013

Reflections on NCTE: How My Work Will Change

A week ago, I cannot even begin to explain to you how excited I was for Thanksgiving break. I love my job and my students, but I was TIRED.  My students were also TIRED, and more than that, they were ANTSY, which made me even more tired.  We were all greatly in need of a little time off to recharge.  Now that I have returned from NCTE in Boston, I am the farthest thing from tired; I am so excited to get back to my classroom and share my learning with my students!  I knew that NCTE would be a great opportunity for me to learn new things, but I don't think I anticipated the renewal that would come from attending the conference.  Being surrounded by English teachers and authors who were as excited as me to nerd out and talk about reading and writing was like a little slice of my own personal nerd heaven.  It. Was. Awesome.  I also had the opportunity to present with some of my colleagues, and not only did people show up at eight o'clock in the morning to listen to us, we had a full room with people in the hall!  Talk about a humbling experience.

One thing I loved about the conference was following the #ncte13 conversation on Twitter.  I added some new educators and authors to my small but growing PLN, and I was able to attend sessions presented by people I had only previously known from Twitter.  Pretty cool. Unfortunately, I was only able to be in one place at a time, as I have not been able to find any way to create a Harry Potter-style time-turner, but thanks to #ncte13, I was able to feel like I was catching the high points of sessions I wasn't able to attend.  I left NCTE feeling more connected and with a desire to help my students feel more connected in the classroom.  I think that new feeling of connectedness and support led to a greater feeling of renewal in my own work.  I was reminded that thousands of teachers across the country are fired up about making a difference.  Thousands of teachers are passionate about changing the face of education.  Thousands of teachers are hungry to grow and change their practice for the benefit of their students.  I am one of many.  My students deserve to feel that kind of renewal, too.  They are one of millions across our country.  Far from shrinking their individual importance, that increases their significance.  They are not alone.  Someone in our world feels they way they do, and there are so many opportunities for them to connect and find that to be true.  I can facilitate that connection through writing and reading. 

Now that I've had about 24 hours to reflect on my NCTE experience, I've come up with some goals for guiding my students toward greater connectedness...
  1. Book Talk more books!  I read constantly, but I don't share my own reading with students often enough.  They need to see that they can connect with me through reading, and that they can connect with new characters in books.
  2. Experiment with using Google Docs for the writing process.  The first session I attended at NCTE was about this topic, and I left the session ready to make this happen in my room.  I really believe this can change the way I facilitate the writing process, and it can change the way my students communicate with each other and me about their work.
  3. Even the playing field.  Carl Anderson discussed the importance of sharing our own writing and reading with our students and empowering our students to identify themselves as writers and readers.  I want to strive to talk to my students as equals in their process.  I want to encourage them to use the language of readers and writers.  This will strengthen their skills and my own skills as well.
Ultimately, I want to turn to more of a workshop approach in my classroom.  With the pressure of standards and testing, it can be difficult to relinquish control and flip the classroom, but our students deserve to learn how to guide their own process. I'm ready and excited to make that happen.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written, Jessica! I, too, feel renewed to speak up and out for educators and to work together with teachers so students have voice, choice, and creativity available to them each day. Way to go, my friend. I so admire you!