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