“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

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