Last year was my first NCTE annual conference and I was completely overwhelmed. Trying to balance sessions with visiting the exhibit hall and all the author signings, whew! This year, I was clearly more prepared and came in with a plan. Did my plan work? No, but I did attend sessions I really wanted to attend and I got a lot out of the conference.
This year’s theme was “Spirited Inquiry” and I noticed a specific trend in many of the sessions – specifically a call to #disruptTexts and to decolonize the curriculum. I sat in one of these sessions for a hot minute and realized that I was not the audience for this session, so I left. I’m glad that there were so many of these types of sessions to get teachers to rethink the novels they teach and to look outside their own bubble and use #ownvoices texts.
One of my favorite sessions was the Black Authors Roundtable and the conversations we had with the authors and among the other teachers at the table was invigorating. Among us teachers there was a wide variety of teaching experiences with a fairly young teacher to a veteran boarding school teacher. Our student populations were just as diverse as we were, but we all agreed that our students needed to be exposed to different voices. Our conversations were so good that time went by so fast and when the session was over, none of us really wanted to stop chatting. It was a great session and I was glad that I got to be a part of it.
Another powerful session was a panel with Black and Latinx authors about raising the voice of Black and Brown girls. So many wise statements by all the authors but it had me thinking about how to raise the voices of my Latinx girls who often let the boys dominate discussions. Of course, exposing them to Latinx authors and other women of color helps (and is what I already do) but it made me reflect on what I could do more. It was a great discussion and the room was full of positivity.
Overall, this conference was a good one and the effort by NCTE to have more diverse voices represented was noticeable. I’m looking forward to next year’s conference and I hope to see some of you there.