Sep 28, 2023
This week I want to talk about getting you in front of an audience this year.
My first year in the classroom I had an amazing mentor. Anne, my department chair, invited me to her house for lunch regularly. I brought pastries, she made fruit salads, and then over oatmeal-raisin scones and papaya, she listened to me talk about everything I was learning and doing. She nodded and smiled, and focused on supporting my enthusiasm rather than telling me what to do.
If only everyone had a mentor like that in their lives.
I remember one piece of wonderful advice she gave me then, and that was to start publishing. She suggested a local teaching newsletter that I could submit an article to, and I did, and it was accepted. Even though I was 22 and in my first year of my first teaching job.
That got me started thinking of myself as someone who could share my ideas with others. I submitted an awful lot more articles after that, and began applying to present on what was going well in my classroom. Sometimes I presented to a crowd at some lovely hotel. Sometimes I presented to my colleagues at my own school. Both were satisfying, and pushed me to see my classroom as a place for trying new things, analyzing the results, and sharing what I learned.
So today I want to give you the same advice my mentor gave me nineteen years ago.
Put your work out there. Ask to present to your department, your whole faculty, or at a local or national conference. Submit a presentation proposal to your state council of teachers of English conference or to the annual NCTE conference.
Write about what you’re doing and send it off to English journal, Read Write Think, We are Teacher, or Edutopia.
Pitch yourself as a podcast guest! Send in an Op Ed to the New York Times. Whatever feels like a good step to you, do it! I believe you’ll start to see your work in a new light when you share it.
You’re a change-maker, an agent of creativity in a profession that is lucky to have you. And I highly recommend you share your best ideas with as many other people as you can.
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