As NCTE 2021 gets underway, we’d like to share this post written by Courtney Kalafsky, who applied for and received funds to attend NCTE 2020 via NJCTE:
During my time as an undergraduate teacher candidate, I found myself surrounded by professors and mentors who were lifelong learners; their passion for growth and willingness to change with newfound knowledge instilled the same values in me. Once I began my teaching career, I always knew I wanted to continue to engage with professional development opportunities. Although I am very lucky to work in a district which truly supports me and encourages me to continue learning, most in-house professional development tends to be interdisciplinary, and my English teacher heart was still craving even more. I decided to apply for a grant to attend NCTE’s 2020 Convention, and was lucky to receive the funds.
During the convention, I learned about effectively facilitating the revision process through intentional strategy. I listened to black authors discuss how they found their way to storytelling and how they hope to see black identities develop in fiction. I was privy to conversations about challenging the ways that things have always been, especially in regards to curricula, and placing students at the forefront of our decisions and practices. Most importantly, I was given the opportunity to ground myself, to forget about the to-do lists and the piles of grading, and to remember why I love teaching. Trevor Noah’s opening session reminded us of the universal value of not only storytelling and teacher, but of humor and laughter.
In a time where everything was overwhelming and uncertain, NCTE’s 2020 Convention, its panelists, and my fellow attendees gave me clarity, inspiration, and hope. I am so thankful to have been supported in this experience, and look forward to the next convention!