For the first time in my career as an English educator, I’ll be attending NCTE (National Council for Teachers of English) national conference next week. This year the conference is in Boston–a city I’ve never stepped foot in before. As the date approaches for me to jump on a plane and join my fellow English teaching brethren in Boston, I have a range feelings and hopes in anticipation of next weekend. I’m certainly excited as well as nervous, but more than anything I’m feeling hopeful. This trip feels like the beginning of something new in my life and my career; it has a gravity about it that I’ve been anticipating for a couple of years now. I realized by my fourth of year of teaching that I didn’t just want to be another teacher who arrives at school, plans, instructs, helps, counsels, grades, and goes home; I realized I wanted to contribute to my field; I want to be a problem solver, a game changer, a breath of fresh air.
To me, that first big step takes place next week when I have the privilege of presenting my pilot study to a roundtable of scholars and teachers like myself and participate in a mentorship program that will connect me with an established scholar to help me on my journey. This feels big. How big it actually is will be based on my perceptions of the weekend and what I do with the experience afterwards. There is an air of serendipity to the event as I wasn’t supposed to originally go. Initially, my pilot study had come in a close third behind two of my other wonderful cohort members during a blind review of our frameworks and study design but as the fates would have it, one of my peers had to bow out of the opportunity allowing me the chance to go in her stead. I will probably always feel indebted to her whether I should or not. I plan to use the experience to my fullest advantage to grow and network, and probably most importantly bring back something of value to my students and my classroom.
I will be tweeting and posting throughout next weekend so feel free to follow along on my adventure. I’ll be posting again soon with some basic background information my pilot study and what I’m hoping to learn from the experience as well. My dream of being a true contributor in my field is starting to take shape.