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Four ACE Teachers Present at NCTE Conference

on Thursday, 16 January 2020.

NCTE Conference Baltimore ACE Teaching Fellows

Four ACE Teaching Fellows joined 10,000 English education teachers, scholars, and researchers in Baltimore recently for the annual convention of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Wilson Barrett, Emma Doerfler, Tracey Schirra, and Matt Sheber Howard joined ACE professors Mike Macaluso and Kati Macaluso to present at NCTE’s flagship conference.

Barrett, a high school teacher at Bishop Dunne Catholic School in Dallas, participated in a round-table session aimed at contemporizing commonly-taught canonical texts in the language arts curriculum. Pairing Scott Westerfield’s young adult novel The Uglies with more canonical dystopian novels like Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451, Barrett discussed how literature could be used to show social media’s role in creating modern-day dystopias – figured worlds with an oftentimes dangerous notion of perfection or beauty, to which young people especially too often fall victim.

Doerfler, a teacher at St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, California, and Schirra, a teacher at Bishop Snyder High School in Jacksonville, Florida, presented on their development as teachers of writing, with a focus on the topic of teaching revision. Their discussion surfaced many parallels between writing and teaching, as evidenced by Schirra’s reflections on the experience of putting together their joint presentation: “I realized that taking time to reflect on your work [as a teacher] is so important. Because I was presenting on a lesson dealing with revision, I had to do a lot of reflection on that lesson and the accompanying assessment. As a result, my understanding of what exactly my students had accomplished shifted.”

Sheber Howard, a teacher at Mount St. Mary Catholic High School in Oklahoma City, participated in NCTE’s “Future is Now” session, a format designed to facilitate the sharing of ideas and feedback among novice teachers and established teacher educators throughout the country.

“The prospect of sharing my work with other English educators was exciting, as much for the experience of presenting in a professional setting as for the feedback I would be inviting on my work,” said Sheber Howard, who focused his presentation on his experiences teaching about race and racism through Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun.

The Macalusos have brought ACE teachers in the program’s second-year English Language Arts methods course to the conference for the past three years. In addition to presenting, the four ACE teachers attended sessions led by other teachers and scholars from among a list of over 600 offerings. They also reconnected with recent ACE graduates and friends Anna Bourjaily (ACE 24), Tyler Schilly (ACE 24) and Mary Neville (ACE 17), who also attended and presented at this year’s conference.

A common theme among the ACE participants was “gratitude”—gratitude for the opportunity, for the challenge, and for the learning, but also, as Doerfler stated, “immense gratitude for the way that ACE forms teachers. Having such a strong community of teachers is such a wonderful resource, and while it was good to be surrounded by other English teachers at NCTE, I was grateful that I don’t have to go to conferences to find community.”

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