Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thousands of Language Arts Teachers at 98th NCTE Conference

We had a productive time attending the NCTE convention.

More teachers than beautiful tiny lights along the Riverwalk were turned on recently in historic San Antonio. They gathered for the annual meeting of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), in association with the Texas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts.

From as far away as Europe and Asia and as close as surrounding Texas towns, participants came to reflect on, discuss, question and create ways to arm students with 21st century literacy skills. NCTE, 50,000 members worldwide, is dedicated to improving the teaching and learning of English and the language arts at all levels of education.

The keynote, focusing on developing the literacy skills of young learners, featured a popular, world-wide authority who stood out. His color had a lot to do with it.

It was Grover the Muppet-- adorable friend of children and (yes, I proudly confess) mothers alike. Grover gave wisdom and tips, spiced with humor and care. There were hundreds of speakers and presenters, generous with professional and instructional insight and materials.

Dr. Jerrie Scott, The University of Memphis, and I were co-presenters and facilitators of the interactive session, Shifting Literacies in the Making of a Tradition: Lessons From 20 Years of African American Read-In Events. There, a diverse group of teachers, along with public school and college administrators, signed up to be part of the 2009 read-in chain and literacy events.

NCTE educators were happy to connect and make new acquaintances, but the absence of laughter and conversations of colleagues no longer with us made us sad. The NCTE "In Memoriam" for members who passed during the last year is copied below.

In Memoriam

Most teachers pass away as they have lived, quietly, but with deep effect upon those to whom they are closest. They are mourned and celebrated by their families and students, privately, often without public announcement of their loss. The profession and the world feel the loss of every individual who has spent so much of a life's energy giving, to students, to the future, whether or not we can list them by name. ... We will miss them.

Mercedes Bonner and Delores Straker, we miss you.

Next year NCTE members and affiliates will meet in Philadelphia.