I’m currently sitting in Logan’s Airport in Boston awaiting a flight that won’t board for another hour and a half, so I think to ‘myself what better time to share my raw reactions to such an engaging weekend with people involved in all areas of the English field?
I can’t imagine I’ll remember everything I should, but I have a few immediate reactions to the weekend that I think are worthy of sharing with anyone willing to read about my experience. To begin with, a major highlight for me was the opportunity to engage in conversations with my professors that go beyond the university classroom experience. Not that I didn’t already have genuine conversations with my mentors, but this weekend was certainly different in scope and depth. I find myself thankful that I was encouraged by them to pursue participating in the roundtable presentation that happened this morning (more on this soon). Specifically, I have to thank Dr. Ryan Rish for his belief that we were capable to pursing and presenting a pilot study at such an early stage of our program.
The next highlight was having the opportunity to be mentored by Michael W. Smith of Temple University. I hadn’t realized how lucky I was to get a one-on-one mentorship with him until my professors pointed out how influential he is in the field of English education. (Just goes to show how much reading I have left to do!) Dr. Smith took an hour and a half of his time during the conference to sit down and take a closer look at my study, which he was quite candid about. He was critical but constructive, giving me an idea of how to move ahead with my data considering the design of my study. I look forward to working with him again in the future and hopefully sharing a future article with him from this study.
There were several sessions of note from the weekend as well. Particularly, I enjoyed meeting and talking to YAL authors M.T. Anderson (Octavian Nothing), Matthew Quick (Silver Linings Playbook), Matt De Le Pena (Mexican White Boy), and Alan Sitomer (Caged Warrior). There was a great poster session that included mind mapping that actually seems worthwhile to implement in the classroom as well as some insight into writing workshop classroom using the flipped model that will have some influence on how my students will be researching next semester. There was also a solid presentation on the use of mentor texts. The most dynamic discussions I listened to involved Michael W. Smith and Jeff Wilhelm. Both were promoting a current publication as well as another coming out in April, but despite the plugs they had to give, the content of their discussions was captivating. They were defining pleasure in the reading classroom as well as fighting back against David Coleman’s views on approaching reading in the era of Common Core standards. Needless to say, it was like drinking from the fire hose while at the conference, but I don’t think I’d have it any other way.
Finally, I’m looking forward to getting involved in a collaborative that NCTE recently approved that focuses on literacies found in students’ pop culture. I feel my current study speaks to this idea, and I’m anticipating working with scholars and other teachers who want to contribute to this newer research field. I’m also heavily considering getting involved in the graduate strand of CEE (Conference of English Educators) this upcoming year.
At the end of the day, the weekend was a whirlwind, and I’m thankful for the opportunity that has been afforded to me. I’m beginning to feel as though some of my greater aspirations are beginning to develop, and that possibility is thrilling to think about. Oh, and Boston is a pretty rad city too.
Here’s to new experiences and continued empowerment through knowledge! Cheers!