Art created by Akyra Bell
The global pandemic has also amplified how racial inequities are deeply entrenched in the fabric of this nation. The disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities and the state-sanctioned violence that led to the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade compel us as English educators to “reimagine literacy and English language arts through the lens of equity, justice, and antiracist teaching” (From the NCTE 2021 Annual Convention Call for Proposals).
We invite you to join us on Saturday, February 27, 2021 as we get into Good Trouble at the Michigan Council of Teachers of English’s Spring Virtual Conference. The theme of the conference is inspired by the wisdom of Congressman and Civil Rights Leader, John Lewis, who reminds us:
When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation, a mission, and a mandate to stand up, to speak up and speak out, and get in the way, get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble…You have to get out there and push and pull to try to make things better for a generation yet unborn. Each one of us has the ability to resist, not to be quiet. We have to be brave. We have to be bold. And sometimes you have to fight some of the old battles over and over again for the next generation. You too can make a contribution, and you must. (From Oprah Winfrey’s The Path Made Clear)
We invite you to join us as we use our work as English and literacy educators to get into Good Trouble. In particular, the theme of the conference asks us to engage with the following questions: How can we use literacy to speak back to the inequities happening within classrooms, schools, and communities?; How can we use our platform as English educators to support and work alongside youth who are already using literacy as activism to speak back to the systems that marginalize them and their peers?; and How do we support our students in creating the world they want to exist in, both within and outside of English Language Arts (ELA) classrooms?
According to Educator, Poet, Activist, and Interrupter Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz (2016), getting into Good Trouble in ELA classrooms means that our instruction must be urgent and purposeful in responding to and anticipating the social context of our times. She states:
English and literacy educators are in a unique position to interrupt the violence, pedagogical injustices, and misrepresentations. . . . [T]he tools we have at our disposal (writing, visual arts, spoken word, and other modalities more readily accepted in English and literacy classrooms) provide an outlet to discuss, critique, and dismantle this violence. (From Why Black Girls’ Literacies Matter: New Literacies for a New Era, English Education Journal)
An additional question we will consider at the spring conference is: How do we use the power of language, literature, digital literacies, art, writing, speaking, listening, visual images, music, media, etc. to interrupt the violence and pedagogical injustices that are perpetuated in communities in classrooms?
The spring conference will highlight the work of English teacher-activists, community leaders, and youth activists who have been on the frontlines teaching, mobilizing, protecting, building community, and fighting for futures that not only include some of us, but all of us. The conference will include keynotes, fireside chats, and teacher-led and youth-led deep think tank sessions. We look forward to getting in Good Trouble with you on February 27.
Nic Stone is the bestselling author of young adult novels that explore race, sexuality, and romance with powerful honesty and captivating storytelling. Her debut novel, the New York Times-bestselling Dear Martin, is inspired by a series of true events involving the shooting deaths of unarmed African American teenagers. Her second book, Odd One Out, is an honest and touching depiction of first love that explores gender and teenage friendship with tenderness and compassion.
In her lectures and workshops aimed at teenagers, educators and aspiring writers, Stone explores how literature can impact social change and disrupt the status quo. Through critical thinking and discussion, she challenges audiences to “write the tough stuff” to embrace their inner power.
For more information on this Speaker, please visit www.prhspeakers.com.
Jamarria Hall is an advocate and activist for equitable public education. Hall was a student at Osborn High School in Detroit who experienced firsthand the inequalities built into how resources were distributed between wealthy suburban districts and cities like his own. Hall led students in Detroit in 2016, filing a class action lawsuit against the state of Michigan seeking a constitutional right to literacy, irrespective of zip code based on the 14th Amendment.
9:00 – 10:00am: Keynote | Nic Stone
10:15-11:15 am: Concurrent Teacher-Led Deep Think Tank Sessions
Session A: Racial Justice: Dr. Carlin Borsheim-Black and Dr. Lamar Johnson
Session B: Linguistic Justice: Christina Ponzio, Abraham Ceballos, and Vanessa Stephens
Session C: Mental Health and Justice: Dr. Kia Jane Richmond
Session D: Food Justice: Silver Moore
Session E: LGBTQ Justice: Everardo Cuevas
11:30am -12pm: Fireside Chat: Nic Stone in conversation with Kaelyn Muirui, Silver Moore, Sirrita Darby, Akyra Bell, and Detroit Students
12-12:30pm: Lunch Break
12:30 – 1:30pm: Keynote | Jamarria Hall
1:45 – 2:45pm: Concurrent Youth-Led Deep Think Tank Sessions
Session A: Immigration Justice: Detroit Youth Activists and Matthew Knieling
Session B: Trauma & Healing Justice: Detroit Heals Detroit and Sirrita Darby
Session C: Family Literacy (Early childhood session): The Zuri Reads Initiative
Session D: Indigenous + Latinx Youth Storytelling: Latinx Leadership Program and Dr. Estrella Torrez
Session E: Environmental Justice: Flint Students and Jessyca Mathews and Carrie Mattern
3:00pm – 3:30pm: MCTE Fireside Chat: Conversation focused on the future of MCTE
$60.00 for teachers
$30.00 for undergraduate and full-time graduate students
Free Registration for Youth: Michigan youth are invited to attend MCTE’s conference this year from 11:30-3:00. Join us for Nic Stone’s Fireside Chat, Jamarria Hall’s youth keynote address, and an afternoon of breakout sessions led by youth across the state. If you are a student in grades K-12 wishing to join us, please register at the button below.
Are you a teacher registering for an MCTE Conference for the first time? Contact MCTE Executive Director Jim Kroll ([email protected]) for a $10 coupon for first-time MCTE attendees (Michigan registrants only).
The dije committee is offering scholarships to support the attendance of teachers from historically underrepresented groups whose presence, participation, and contributions are central to the full realization of MCTE’s goals to serve Michigan teachers and their students in ways that privilege diversity, inclusion, justice, and equity. Learn more about the scholarship application process here.
Because the MCTE conference is virtual this year, we welcome guests from outside of Michigan. Join us for a day of getting into good trouble.