The Many Benefits of Attending the NCTE Conference

The Many Benefits of Attending the NCTE Conference
  • Outside the Classroom
  • Upper Division
Matan Halzel

By Tia Woods, Upper Division English Teacher

From November 19-24, close to 9000 English teachers converged on Baltimore, Maryland. I was attending the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) - the professional organization for English teachers from preschool through college. It was set to be a week of scholarship and growing as educators, inquirers, and learners. This convention allows teachers to inspire their practice and rejuvenates their profession. Teachers leave with strong strategies and best practices for teaching literacy, language, and composition. They learn new ideas for delivering instruction that engages students and addresses the most pressing needs within the school. Attendees heard from leading education voices as well as nearly 300 national authors, all learning together about the pressing subjects of the field.  

At this amazing event, I attended sessions on Teaching The (Old) Classics, Using Historical Fiction to teach Modern Ideas, Playing with Poetry, Visual Notetaking, Using Lesser Read Authors to Augment Novels, The Power of Storytelling, First Draft does not have to go to Final Draft, Talking about Reading, Collaborative Research, Discussion as a Civil communication, Bilingual Books: How to integrate books with another language, and The History left out of Books: Who are we missing? I learned how to adapt the books and stories that I already teaches, new approaches to books I will be teaching, and new ideas to bring into the classroom.

I also met, heard from, and spoke to many amazing authors writers. I heard a Key Note speech from George Takaki about the time he spent in a Japanese Internment Camp. I heard speeches from authors who wrote novels because they didn’t see themselves as characters in books. I spoke to children’s authors who are working hard to write books that address issues children face today in terms that children can understand. I spoke with a graphic novelist about why he believes teaching the Odyssey and Beowulf is so important today. I spoke with a representative from the premier authority on Shakespeare, and was offered to participate in curriculum creation for the teacher’s section of their web page.  

I also met with publishers and educational specialists. I received sample copies of books that I teach so that I can better my teaching, and I picked up books to donate to both the Lower Division and the Upper Division libraries – some signed by the authors.

But the most important part of this event was my presentation. More than 4,000 presentation ideas were submitted six months ago; almost 750 were accepted to present at the conference. I presented on Creative Ways to asses Student Writing Without Assigning an Essay. I presented to about 80 people on methods that I have used in my classroom to improve student writing at the same time as encouraging their creativity. I showed student work that exemplifies this practice, and I answered questions about how to adapt this to any classroom.

I even found a bit of time to explore literary Baltimore.  I visited both the house of Edgar Allan Poe, and his grave.  My group was invited to the Poe reading room at the Library, where we saw original letters, a lock of Poe’s hair, and a piece of his coffin. 

Overall, this was an amazing, stimulating, and inspiring conference.  I am so pleased to have been able to attend, to represent Denver JDS, and honored to present my knowledge to other teachers.

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