Wednesday, October 5, 2011

NCTE and You

Note: The September 2011 issue of English Journal celebrates the centennial of the National Council of Teachers of English. The articles consist of testaments to the value of the NCTE to practicing teachers of English. Peter Smagorinsky in the final paragraph of his article, “NCTE & Me: Reflections on the Council’s Role in One Teacher’ Life,” says well what I have learned from  my experiences with the NCTE.

Quote: “I have always been puzzled at the fact that, with all that NCTE has to offer, more practicing teachers are not members. I taught in some highly regarded high schools in which I was among the few members of large faculties to join and take advantage of its resources. These resources have only grown more abundant and better with each passing year as NCTE tries to serve its members and improve the quality of teaching. I hope that my reflection on my own experiences with the Council helps others to think about where they would be without NCTE and to persuade colleagues of the possibilities that await them through their membership.” P. 116.

Comment: I began reading the English Journal in 1956 in my first year of high school teaching. Because I wanted to learn what was happening in elementary school, junior high and middle school, as well as high school and college, I expanded my reading of professional journals in English to include Elementary English re-named Language Arts, Voices from the Middle, College English, English Education, College Composition and Communication, Teaching English in the Two-Year College, Research in the Teaching of English and added to the NCTE’s list of journals those of the International  Reading Association, The Reading Teacher, Journal of Reading re-named Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy and Reading Research Quarterly.

That’s a lot of reading, but I’ve learned to read for ideas and to find the significant ideas in each article of each journal, and, believe me, nothing is so exciting as discovering an answer to my questions about teaching English and raising new questions. I’ve discovered pre-writing, the writing process, writing to learn and teaching English as a second language in the pages of these journals. Sometimes the writers reinforce my own ideas, more often disagree with my ideas, but always I learn from ideas that I reflect on in order to improve my teaching of English. And I have learned how to write and publish in these journals, further refining my ideas.

Ideas. They are my reason for reading professional literature. Ideas that cause me to reflect about how to improve my teaching. That’s why I am a member of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English. If you’re an English teacher, you really need to belong to your professional organization. This blog, English Updates, consists of selected ideas from the pages of professional literature. I have had as many as 250 hits a day. RayS.

 Title: “NCTE & Me: Reflections on the Council’s Role in One Teacher’s Life.” Peter Smagorinsky. English Journal (September 2011), 111-116.

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