Mandatory Reflection Time (or The Day After #NCTE17)

It’s hard to imagine that anything could be missing from the English teacher extravaganza that is NCTE. But if anything is missing, it is mandatory reflection time — time away from the learning and the exhibit hall (and the cheerleaders), to process. To be still. To think. To make a plan for the future.

Right now, I desperately need mandatory reflection time.

I have pages upon pages of scratchings in my notebook, but they all pretty much come down to one thing. In the immortal words of Nwanda in Dead Poets Society, here’s what I walk away with:

“Gotta do more. Gotta be more.”

Whether or not you were with us this weekend, Thanksgiving is the perfect moment in the school year to pause, figure out where we’ve been, and make a plan for where we are going to go.

So today instead of a post in which I pontificate on my own NCTE17 takeaways and instead of sharing our Moving Writers NCTE presentation with you (we promise we’ll have that ready for you December 1), I offer you some mandatory reflection time. Here are some questions that might help:

  • What’s going well in your class so far this year that you can build on (and if you were at NCTE, what strategies did you get that will help you build on it)?
  • What’s not going as well? What can you do right now that will make that element of your class 5% better? (And, NCTE participants, what tool did you find at the convention that might help you do that?)
  • Who could you partner with to help you teach 5% better. At NCTE, what relationship did you form or cultivate that can help you achieve some of your classroom goals?
  • What questions are you wrestling with? As Cornelius Minor asked teachers, what seems impossible in your classroom or in your context right now? And what questions can you ask about that impossibility? This is where classroom action research (and, I would add, professional writing) come from!

Don’t comment today. Take a nice deep breath. Do some thinking. Take the next little, tiny step toward progress.

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