MCTE Call for Proposals

Fall Conference 2024

 
Friday, October 11, 2024
The Kellogg Center, East Lansing, Michigan

“Who and what is included and excluded? As a literacy research community, who are we becoming and who do we want to be?”

-Dr. Marcelle Haddix, LRA 2019 Presidential Address

The ancient Greeks used an early version of the formal table. Placed in an andron, this space was meant for men to gather together. As they debated academic topics or watched performances from dancers or musicians, the men were often served by enslaved people or the women of the household– providing an early version of the power dynamics involving class, race and gender that still exists around many tables today. Just as the Greeks cultivated collective spaces where one group monopolized the positions of power and importance, today’s literacy classrooms and academia are places where some members hold authority and privilege, while others feel unsafe, unwelcome, and unheard.

In a democratic society, literacy- reading, writing, thinking and speaking– should be important steps to earning a “seat at the table.” However, literacy practices– especially notions of what counts as “right,” “appropriate,” or “academic”– often dictate who does and does not belong. Belonging in literacy communities has been, and continues to be, determined by norms of whiteness that devalue the linguistic practices of Black, Indigenous, and other people of Color (Baker-Bell, 2020; Souto-Manning et. al, 2022). This is inherently wrong. 

While making more space at the table is important, members are not mere tokens of representation and diversity. Justice and belonging goes beyond offering a seat at the table, by centering the voices that have been historically excluded, ensuring that they are listened to, respected, and deemed a valuable contribution. Diversity and inclusion is more than being in the room – it is being heard and understood.

In order to create spaces of true belonging, Michigan educators must ask difficult questions about our literacy communities: Are we ready to transform conversations and curriculum? Are we ready to forego nostalgia and break the cycle of white supremacy? If someone is brave enough to take a seat at the table, do they have a safe space to be heard? Rather than maintaining systems and reproducing norms because “that’s just what we’ve always done,” asking instead, “What do we want our communities and classrooms to be?” 

The 2024 MCTE Fall Conference call invites literacy educators to engage in lively conversations, critical thinking, and problem-solving that focuses on creating a more equitable table today and better preparing communities of belonging for future generations.

Proposals should respond to one of the following prompts:

  1. Social Activist Sandy Hudson said, “I think that sometimes we need seats at the table, but sometimes we need to destroy the table and create a whole brand new one.”  If we break apart our previous “tables,” what might be more equitable ways to gather and share ideas in literacy communities? What types of instructional practices could contribute towards justice and belonging in our classrooms, teacher education programs, and professional organization?
  2. Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress, said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” When our students are not invited to important tables, what literacy practices might offer an avenue for them to enter new spaces and insert their voice into the conversations? 
  3. In the process of selecting texts and voices, how do we curate curricula that disrupt the nature of “bordering” and “gatekeeping” ? What text forms and 21st century multimodal literacies offer belonging and justice for more community members? 
  4. How do we develop students’ literacy identities and use texts to invite multicultural conversations? How do we make instruction socially, culturally and technologically relevant and exciting? How do we teach in revolutionary, multicultural ways?
  5. American writer and activist Audre Lorde said, “Without community, there is no liberation…but community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist.” What will it mean to invite someone into the literacy community? How do we move our communities from equality and inclusion to transformation and justice?

 

References

Baker-Bell, A. (2020). Linguistic justice: Black language, literacy, identity, and pedagogy. NCTE.

Souto‐Manning, M., Martinez, D. C., & Musser, A. D. (2022). ELA as English language abolition: Toward a pedagogy of communicative belonging. Reading Research Quarterly, 57(4), 1089-1106.

Sara Hoeve

MCTE Vice-President, 2024

DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS: MONDAY, JULY 15 BY 5:00PM EST