Monday, November 24, 2008

NCTE Convention in San Antonio, Texas

My colleague Lisa Bott and I are attending the 90th national convention of the National Council of teachers of English. We flew in on Friday morning and have been attending inspiring sessions about a number of topics. It’s my intension to write a brief summary of the main ideas that were presented at the sessions I attended. Since I have to write a report for the pd committee, the contents of this blog will be my report. Currently, I’m in the hotel lobby at 6:00 am on Sunday. I’m an early riser and have been meaning to get to this blog sooner than this. Last night we spent out time on San Antonio’s Riverwalk. We ate dinner at a river side restaurant after taking a boat ride on the San Antonio River. The night was balmy - not warm as we are in the middle of a cold snap here (cold being around 56 degrees F) and it was quite pleasant. The River walk is filled with people, locals and tourists alike and is quite lively. Today after our last session, we’ll head to the Alamo, another short walk from our hotel. Our days have been spent at the Convention Centre a short walk away – it’s huge, bigger than Toronto’s Convention Centre. The participants are from all over the States and Canada – Lisa spoke to one who was from England.

One of the things that I have noticed, being a Canadian in the midst of mostly American teachers is the overwhelming sense of hope and renewal as a result of Obama’s victory. From what I gather, the No Child Left Behind legislation has wrought low moral, low level, teaching to the test instruction, scripted instruction and loss of creativity and the ability to respond to student needs, lack of differentiation, a shocking lack of respect to learners whose first language is not English and only one pathway for students (college). I know that I will be leaving this conferences knowing that I am lucky to be teaching in Ontario – we are far more advanced in education. The US has a long way to go, but there is a permeating sense of hope and excitement that things will change. Many speakers have spoken about a ‘sense of urgency’ for literacy instruction in the US especially with African-American and Latino children and Kylene Beers spoke about "segregation by educational rigour".

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