Call for applicants: NCTE/NJCTE Teachers for the Dream – Deadline Oct 31

Call for applicants: NJCTE Teachers for the Dream – Deadline October 31, 2020

The New Jersey Council of Teachers of English (NJCTE) seeks to address and support underrepresented teachers of color in New Jersey and within our own organization. The Teachers for the Dream grant, funded with the generous support of NCTE, will help NJCTE support teachers of color within the state and within the leadership of our organization. We also hope that this initiative will help us increase the diversity of our membership overall.

If you are a teacher of color, please consider applying: https://cutt.ly/NJCTEDream. If you are not a teacher of color, please share this application with a friend or colleague who might benefit from this award.

Call for applicants: NCTE/NJCTE Teachers for the Dream – Deadline Oct 31

Join us! NJCTE Open Board Meeting — 10/25, 6pm

NJCTE is required to hold an annual open board meeting. Typically, we hold this meeting after our spring conference, but this year, for obvious reasons, we did not. So, we will hold our meeting on Zoom, October 25, 6pm.

Register in advance for this meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAuf-2rpj8oHNC714PMu34gHg3JZ3e03agI

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Please join us to ratify changes to our constitution and our new board code of conduct. We will also ratify a few of our interim board appointments and elect new folks to some of our new board positions.

In particular, we are looking for someone to serve as a Web Coordinator and Communications Chair. Are you interested?

Or, if you have expressed interest in giving more of your time and energy to NJCTE, join us and we can definitely make a place for you in the organization and talk about how you can become more involved. 

This will not be a long meeting. Come and approve our new constitution and code of conduct and help us by stepping up to serve or by helping elect others.

Questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out: njctepresident@gmail.com.

Join us! NJCTE Open Board Meeting — 10/25, 6pm

“We Survived September! Now What?” Virtual Panel Discussion

Join us Tuesday, 9/29, 6-7pm to raise a virtual toast — with whatever kind of beverage and/or ice cream flavor you prefer — to ourselves and ELA teachers everywhere and to talk about what has worked well during September remote/hybrid/in-person teaching and learning and how we will carry that forward into October and beyond.

The discussion will be facilitated by NJCTE board member Denise Weintraut and feature four excellent NJ ELA educators (see speaker topics and bios below).

Time: Sep 29, 2020 06:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/89912280611?pwd=TUo1UE1PY2UwOTZjTWJuTmVQVTViZz09
Meeting ID: 899 1228 0611
Passcode: 708880

NJCTE board member and 2020 AMLE National Educator of the Year Joseph Pizzo on “Poetry and the Pandemic”

“My poetry assignment entitled ‘The First Day of School’ has been transformed by the outbreak of COVID-19 and the accompanying restrictions and regulations. Rather than discussing a typical first day of school, my students focus on the challenges and changes (both positive and negative) that this pandemic has imposed upon them as both students and social beings. Some of the images are very powerful.”

English and Theater Arts teacher Katie Whitley on creating a collaborative virtual classroom environment

“COVID-19 has certainly presented significant challenges in regard to creating a ‘space’ to develop an interactive and supportive classroom community. Complications with computer access and connectivity coupled with the discomfort some students feel sharing themselves on screen can make video platforms feel like an incomplete alternative to an in-person collaborative classroom environment. After much trial and error, I developed a template for a weekly slideshow that  has allowed for a wider variety of ways for students to work together, interact, and get the support and assistance they need.” 

English Special Education teacher Ashley Pollitt on “Check-in Questions: Beyond Simply Getting to Know Students”

“Students often chat as they trickle into the classroom. This year, preoccupied with learning who’s who in a mask and implementing safety protocols, I did not readily engage students… that is, until one day I checked in: What made you smile this week? Before long, this became a daily practice: What have you done for yourself today? If you could describe yourself as an animal at this very moment, what would you be and why? Soon, students will routinely create and ask their own check-in questions. As we move past the “get-to-know-you” phase—and as I continue to learn the unique needs of my students with disabilities—this information will ideally help me structure meaningful goals for all students.”

English teacher Jason Toncic on “The Problem with Zoom”

“With the take-up of remote teaching via Zoom over the past year, many educators have found themselves teaching to blank screens. Although this may be disconcerting for teachers, I’ve found that the discourse about students’ videos has masked a greater issue: the loss of physical space in the classroom. Due to equidistance, classrooms are dominated—even more than usual—by teacher-led discussion with little room for other voices. What consequences emerge in classrooms where only one dialogue can occur, and what options exist within the software that can mitigate some of this unanticipated problem?”

Speaker biographies:

Joseph Pizzo is an English Teacher beginning year 47 on 11/3, Black River Middle School – Integrated Language Arts Teacher and Drama Club Co-director, Centenary University – Adjunct Prof. of Communications, Union County College and College of Saint Elizabeth – Former Adjunct Professor, AMLE National Educator of the Year – 2020, former NJCTE and NJAMLE Educator of the Year, NCTE Historian, NJ Autism Think Tank Member, a poet and author, and much more.

Ashley Pollitt is an English Special Education teacher at Ridgewood High School with experience in General Education, Co-Taught, and Resource settings. She is currently pursuing her PhD at Montclair State University in Teacher Education and Teacher Development with a focus on critical disability studies. At Montclair State University, Ashley also serves as an adjunct professor, teaching courses in the Early Childhood and Special Education (ECSE) and Educational Foundations (EDFD) programs.

Katie Whitley has been teaching high school English and theater arts since 2008 and is an adjunct professor of writing studies at Montclair State University. Katie is also a doctoral candidate in Teacher Education and Development at Montclair State focusing on critical literacy and feminist pedagogies. 

Jason Toncic is an English teacher at James Caldwell High School. As a Ph.D. candidate at Montclair State University, he is examining discourse records from online English classes within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic from March-to-June last school year.

“We Survived September! Now What?” Virtual Panel Discussion

Cocktails in Crisis is Back!

Calling all ELA educators, K-16! Let’s come together virtually, with your favorite cocktail or mocktail.

We did it before, and we are doing it again because it was such a success! If you came before, you know it was great. If you missed it, join us this time around. You’ll be glad you did.

Date/Time: Thursday, August 13, 2020, 4:00 PM Eastern Time

Join Zoom Meeting
https://NJCU.zoom.us/j/95780362429?pwd=TFNvdThaaEErYnR1bytGeldQZHFvdz09

Meeting ID: 957 8036 2429
Password: 59175101

Our thanks go to the American College of Education for graciously sponsoring this event and providing our generous door prizes! If you’d like to continue your education while still teaching, be sure to check them out by contacting our representative below.

Kerry Delaney

Field Enrollment Specialist

American College of Education

101 W Ohio, Suite 1200, Indianapolis, IN 46204

Phone: 833.230.6585

Email: kerry.delaney@ace.edu

Cocktails in Crisis is Back!

Register Today for NJCTE Summer Virtual Professional Development Sessions

Beat the heat this summer with lots of learning options to inspire you — our presenters are offering condensed, virtual versions of their spring conference sessions to benefit NJ educators this summer.

Join one, a few or all of the sessions — they are free to NJCTE members and only $5 for non-members! You can register for the sessions at the links below. Note that sessions will only run with five or more participants, so please be purposeful in your responses so that presenters can plan accordingly. We welcome your participation and enthusiasm at some or all of these awesome sessions this summer!

Thursday, July 16, 3pm, Janice Alvarez: This presentation will use various pieces of culturally responsive literature to demonstrate various lesson activities that will increase student motivation and achievement. Cornelius Minor’s book, We Got This, will be referenced and teachers will leave with tangible lesson ideas and a bibliography of culturally responsive and appropriate mentor texts.

Monday, July 20, 10am, Kristie-Anne Opaleski: There are a myriad of effective SEL programs available for the elementary and the middle school classrooms. However, options are limited for high school teachers though teens need this instruction equally, if not more. As the District SEL coordinator and instructional coach, I created SEL in the Secondary English Classroom for my high school colleagues encouraging them to try feasible and simple ways to integrate social-emotional learning in their English classes. Our district had a felt need at both high schools that all students, regardless of their academic level, needed coping skills; consequently, I created this Google Slide presentation as a springboard to start teaching SEL skills, specifically self-awareness and self-management to teens. The focus is on what teachers are already doing and capitalizing on ways to do it better. Most teachers care about their students, therefore some of these techniques are more of reminders than methods. I presented this to 40 high school English teachers and 95% of those surveyed felt like they could employ at least one of the strategies presented the next day.

Wednesday, July 22, 10:30am, Kate Overgaard: During this session, I will discuss the outline for implementing First Chapter Friday in classes, from elementary through college. The idea is to provide students with exposure to various texts and potentially open them up to different types of readings. I will share the list of readings used thus far and, provide sample lists for each grade level (elementary, middle, high school, college), etc.

Tuesday, July 28, 10am, Joe Pizzo: ELA Meets SEL 2.0 inspires ELA teachers to combine various strategies that infuse the fundamentals with fun wrapped in an envelope of SEL principles encouraging voice and choice. Participants will learn ways to connect with their students right from the first day of classes. The featured project is Character Comfort, an activity being featured in Shelby Witte’s new book for NCTE. The chance to create a Professional Learning Network (PLN) designed to continue the workshop experience will be offered. Bring your device, your energy, and your creativity!

Wednesday, July 29, 4pm, Mr. & Mrs. Krapels: As teachers, we all can probably recognize that student stress and anxiety levels seem to be increasing every year—especially when it comes to their grades. While this stress may be related and exacerbated by a number of factors, it’s evident that more and more, some students see their identities and their grade point averages as one and the same. Often, learning and reflection can take a backseat to the letters on their report card. This session aims to help teachers in the ELA classroom combat the obsession over grades by providing three replicable methods for teachers’ own classrooms. Because many of us teach in traditional schools that still rely on traditional grading methods and reporting, this session does not aim to help teachers “throw out grades.” Instead, its aims are to provide teachers with ideas that can help them challenge the traditional grading system while still providing the traditional letter-grade reporting that is required of so many of us. More importantly, this session will introduce participants to practices that if employed in their own classes, may help positively change students’ mindsets around grading and assessment.

Monday, August 3, 10am, Emily Meixner: In this session, the presenters will introduce the idea of reading “frames” and provide examples of how these frames can guide teachers’ use of whole class texts. Despite changing school demographics as well as an intensified awareness of the increasing social emotional needs of secondary students, the way in which English teachers “teach books” looks very much like it has for decades. The goal in this session is to model for teachers how they might identify and teach reading “frames” to provide students with not only greater purpose, but also with increased autonomy over how they read. Come prepared to reconsider texts you currently teach and/or imagine how you might approach new texts you’d like to explore with your students.

Thursday, August 6, 4pm, Bryan Weber: This presentation will introduce teachers to creative ways to build empathy in their students. Bryan will demonstrate how the use of critical lenses and creative assessments can foster greater understanding of diverse perspectives and experiences. Bryan will provide examples of actual activities he has used in his high school ELA classroom that assist students to feel and show empathy for others, especially with regards to women, individuals on the autism spectrum, and refugees.

Wednesday, August 19, 10am, Berit Gordon: How do we get to more joy and less struggle in a profession where people put in such tremendous effort and do such essential work? No matter what supports you might have in your school or district, you can take charge of your teacher growth and craft your own learning journey. This workshop will show that the expert is already in you, and will offer you some hands-on strategies/guidance you need and crave in order to become the high-impact teacher every student deserves. This workshop will provide a structure to help K–12 teachers reflect on your own professional development needs, set goals that work for you and your students, and access a host of practical strategies that will help you meet that goal. We will look at self-assessment checklists to help you find your own entry point. Once you have determined which goal you want to start with, you will look at the list of strategies and choose one to try.

Friday, August, 21, 10am, Colleen Potter: In our new hybrid world, digital portfolios are becoming an increasingly relevant tool for educators looking for ways to empower their students to communicate evidence of learning anywhere, anytime. Student-driven digital portfolios serve to document student learning and are a valuable space for prompting student reflection to integrate more thoughtful SEL education into the classroom. By capturing learning as it happens with audio, video, files from the cloud, readings, and artifacts from the ELA classroom, teachers can challenge students to reflect on their learning, feelings, and areas of improvement. This session will give a technology-agnostic overview of how digital portfolios can be used to capture learning and demonstrate social and emotional learning.

Register Today for NJCTE Summer Virtual Professional Development Sessions

NJCTE Educator of the Year and High School Writing Contest Award Winners Honored at New Jersey Governor’s Awards in Arts Education 2020

Talented educators and students from throughout the state of New Jersey were virtually honored on June 26 with the Governor’s Award in Arts Education. Usually held at the Trenton War Memorial, the 40th anniversary year was livestreamed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the annual New Jersey Governor’s Awards in Arts Education (NJGAAE), the New Jersey Council of Teachers of English honors an English Educator of the Year and the High School Writing Contest winners for their service and accomplishment in English Language Arts.  

Broadcast live on the NJGAAE website, YouTube, and Facebook simultaneously, the 40th anniversary awards ceremony was a gala event that opened with a pre-show virtual red carpet interview livestream hosted by student honorees and featuring various 2020 award winners. The main event opened with a slide show of award-winning visual art from New Jersey students. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy then addressed the attendees and celebrated the importance of arts education, noting that last year New Jersey was first in the nation to offer universal arts education in all of our public schools. This year, according to Governor Murphy, New Jersey is again first in the nation to incorporate climate change education into all of our K-12 standards. Governor Murphy congratulated all New Jersey teachers and students receiving awards in arts education. 

Past award recipients spoke about how the award has influenced them personally and professionally and answered the question: “Why are the arts more important now than ever?” The program featured performances from alumni and this year’s student award winners interspersed with short video selfies of each winner in multiple categories, including creative writing, dance, instrumental music, public speaking, theater, visual arts, and vocal performance.

Dr. Darlene Russell, Professor and Fulbright Scholar in the College of Education at William Paterson University, was honored as the NJCTE English Educator of the Year. Dr. Russell teaches undergraduate and graduate English methods, literacy, and educational foundation courses. Dr. Russell is the founder of the Nurturing Culturally Responsive Equity Teachers (NCRET) Research Project, which focuses on implementing a culturally responsive and pro-social justice curriculum in secondary classrooms. She is also the founder of My Sisters’ Nest, a mentoring group for female college students from underrepresented groups. Her research agenda orbits around critical literacy, critical race theory, and culturally responsive pedagogy. Dr. Russell’s acceptance speech was featured in the education portion of the livestream award ceremony. In her remarks, Dr. Russell noted that her parents were her first teachers, and though they never received an award, they taught her “how to care, how to love, how to listen, how to be heard, how to fight, how to persist, how to focus, how to labor, and how to lead.” Dr. Russell expressed appreciation for how the award recognized all aspects of her professional work with teaching and scholarship. “I am grateful and joyful for this honor, this award, and I will continue to live up to being the educator of the year every year,” said Dr. Russell.   

Three students were honored for their exceptional writing ability, as demonstrated through the annual NJCTE High School Writing Contest. Catherine Park of Bergen County Academies won first place in the poetry category for her poem “Today,” Caitlin Brannigan of The Academy of the Holy Angels won first place in the short story category for her story “Calamity of Freedom,” and Joyce He of Livingston High School won first place in the personal essay category for her essay “The Glory of Gym Class.” In addition to our own NJCTE awards for their superlative accomplishments, these individuals were also honored among the best of all arts educators and students in New Jersey through the NJGAAE. 

In the 2020 NJCTE High School Writing Contest, remarkable creative work was also received from Rikki Zagelbaum of Bruriah Girls High School, who won second place in the short story category for her story, “A Bucket of Youth and Boat Full of Dreams,” and Grace McGory of Pascack Valley Regional High School for her story, “Heart to Hart.” The short story category of the writing contest was organized by Beth Ann Bates. 

Outstanding work responding to this year’s theme for personal essays, “Hindsight,” was submitted by Alyssa Laze of Northern Highlands Regional High School. Her second-place essay was entitled “Saying a Prayer that’s Not Ours.” The third-place essay, submitted by John Jabbour of Morristown High School, was entitled “The Value of Impermanence.”

Finally, wonderful poetry entitled “Ninety one” was received from Katherine Vandermel of Bergen County Academies and won second place; Livingston High School’s Eden Quan’s poem “Golden Boy” won third place in the poetry category. Both the poetry and the essay categories were organized by Lynn Love-Kelley. 

Congratulations to our talented, successful educators and students! NJCTE and the state of New Jersey are very proud of you!

NJCTE Educator of the Year and High School Writing Contest Award Winners Honored at New Jersey Governor’s Awards in Arts Education 2020

Cocktails in Crisis!

Calling all ELA educators, K-16! Let’s come together virtually, with your favorite cocktail or mocktail.

We did it before, and we are doing it again because it was such a success! If you came before, you know it was great. If you missed it, join us this time around. You’ll be glad you did.

Date/Time: Thursday, July 9, 2020, 4:00 PM Eastern Time

Join Zoom Meeting
https://NJCU.zoom.us/j/95780362429?pwd=TFNvdThaaEErYnR1bytGeldQZHFvdz09

Meeting ID: 957 8036 2429
Password: 59175101

Our thanks go to the American College of Education for graciously sponsoring this event and providing our generous door prizes! If you’d like to continue your education while still teaching, be sure to check them out by contacting our representative below.

Kerry Delaney

Field Enrollment Specialist

American College of Education

101 W Ohio, Suite 1200, Indianapolis, IN 46204

Phone: 833.230.6585

Email: kerry.delaney@ace.edu

Cocktails in Crisis!

Remembering and Honoring Pat Schall

NJCTE recently established the Patricia L. Schall Visual Literacy Award. Please join us in remembering and honoring Pat by reading the following lovely remembrance, and, if you are able, by making a donation in her honor and in support of this award.

The author and Pat at the March for Science in New York City

by Lisa Mastrangelo

The last time that I saw Pat Schall in person, she was wearing a floral headband and representing Mother Earth as we marched at the March for Science protest in New York City. By then, I had known Pat for nearly 20 years as one of my colleagues at The College of St. Elizabeth. That day at the march epitomized Pat for me—she was filled with both energy and drive and the desire to see people learn, to be educated, and to do what was right and good. We weren’t close friends at work, but I always valued her input, and had missed her when I moved on to a new teaching position. On the way home from the march, I remembered thinking that I had forgotten just how smart, how observant, how keen of mind, but also how funny Pat could be. She was also amazingly thoughtful. While she had an amazing sense of ethics, and truly believed in right and wrong, she considered many sides before making a decision. This was one of the main lessons that I learned from Pat as a new doctoral student just beginning to teach: listen, learn, decide, and if you see injustice, absolutely speak.

Pat’s impact on me seems minor in comparison to her impact on the many future teachers that she sent into the education world. She was a true teacher and mentor. She shaped the world of education for her students, and more importantly, she believed in them, mentored them, and remained their friend long after they graduated. She encouraged them to do their best as teachers, supported them in their teaching careers, and continued to mentor them as they moved into other career paths, in education and beyond. She celebrated their weddings, their children, and their pets (particularly their cats!). Nel Noddings once wrote that, “Education, by its very nature, should help people develop their best selves.” I cannot think of any educator who was more able or willing to do that than Pat.

Perhaps the greatest insult of Pat dying during the coronavirus pandemic has been our inability to gather to celebrate her life. Pat touched so many lives—so many teachers, so many students. So many of us were thrilled to see that NJCTE announced the Patricia L. Schall Visual Literacy Award, and we are equally as pleased to be able to donate to sustain it.

Remembering and Honoring Pat Schall

Limited-Time $5 NJCTE Membership Offer

Given the current COVID-19 situation, NJCTE is offering special, limited-time discounted membership to all! If you are a new or a returning member, 2020-2021 membership is available for $5. 

If you aren’t sure whether it’s time to renew, it’s easy. Did you register for the spring conference and agree to let NJCTE keep your registration and/or membership? If yes, you don’t need to do anything. You are already a member for 2020-2021. Thank you so much for your generosity at this time and for your amazing support of NJCTE!

If no, it’s time for you to renew!

Please support your New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE. Your $5 membership gives you access to the many online activities we have planned for you for summer renewal. You’ll also be supporting the organization that supports you with 

  • webinars geared to the needs of ELA educators,

  • the NJCTE blog,

  • the NJCTE newsletter,

  • the New Jersey English Journal,

  • the NJCTE High School Writing Contest,

  • NJCTE pre-service, early career, educator of the year, and teacher for the dream awards,

  • the early career teaching mentorship program

  • spring and fall conferences (hopefully in the post-COVID future),

  • networking, virtual social hours, connections with colleagues and authors, and so much more.

There’s one catch – this super low price is only good until 4 p.m. June 15 so that we can meet our NCTE membership deadline! Act now, please! After this, the price will increase to $15 for the remainder of 2020-2021 (still discounted from our normal $25 membership fee).

If you can afford to renew at a higher price, please consider a donation to help cover our affiliate costs.

Limited-Time $5 NJCTE Membership Offer

NJCTE Supports S2455

The board of NJCTE has voted to join with Make the Road New Jersey and other professional and labor organizations, educators, and community groups to support S2455: to remove barriers to occupational licenses so that all qualified individuals, regardless of federal immigration status, can pursue their respective career paths. As New Jersey faces an unprecedented public health crisis, and a dearth of health care professionals to meet the need, it is all the more critical that this legislation moves forward.

Thousands of immigrant young people across New Jersey are studying to become nurses, physical therapists, teachers, or accountants, all occupations that require an occupational license – yet citizenship requirements currently block their pathway to licensure. Removing barriers to professional and occupational licenses for qualified individuals can help fill urgent state labor shortages and retain skilled immigrants.

Already, New Jersey has made enormous strides in welcoming immigrants. Because of legislative action, undocumented students who attend New Jersey high schools are eligible for in-state tuition and state financial aid if they go to New Jersey colleges and next year they’ll be able to apply for driver’s licenses. As a result, thousands of immigrants attend New Jersey colleges and universities with dreams of becoming nurses, physician assistants, and English teachers. However, these same students are currently not eligible for occupational licenses.

Passing S2455 will strengthen opportunities for undocumented students instead of forcing them to find other work or move to another state. For more information about this campaign, please contact Nedia Morsy at Make the Road NJ, nedia.morsy@maketheroadnj.org.

Consider 1) making a call or 2) filling out this link which will send a pre-written email to your representative: https://p2a.co/vcHctFN

Calls can go out to Senator Pou, Senate President Steve Sweeney, and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin:

Senator Pou (2544 sponsor): (973) 247-1555
Senate President Sweeney: (856) 339-0808 

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin: (732) 855-7441

Call script for Senator Pou: “Hi, my name is ________ and I am an educator in _______/member of NJCTE. I am reaching to thank Senator Pou for introducing S2544, which would expand access to licenses to all qualified New Jersey residents, regardless of immigration status. As New Jersey faces a severe nursing and healthcare worker shortage and teacher shortage, it is critical that the state step up. Thank you for your leadership and we are eager to see S2455 make it through the Senate and onto the Governor’s desk.”

Call script for Senate President Steve Sweeney: “Hi, my name is ________ and I am an educator in _______/member of NJCTE. I am reaching out to call on the Senate President’s support for S2455, which would expand access to licenses to all qualified New Jersey residents, regardless of immigration status. As New Jersey faces a severe nursing and healthcare worker shortage and teacher shortage, it is critical that the state step up.”

Call script for Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin: “Hi, my name is ________ and I am an educator in _______/member of NJCTE. I am reaching out to call on the Assembly Speaker to introduce and support an Assembly counterpart to S2455,  which would expand access to licenses to all qualified New Jersey residents, regardless of immigration status. As New Jersey faces a severe nursing and healthcare worker shortage and teacher shortage, it is critical that the state step up.”

NJCTE Supports S2455