The last couple of weeks have been a true whirlwind for both Nathan and I. We have been running around like crazy, and between parent teacher conferences, meetings after school, planning and executing a project at the same time (not always recommended), and him working on a huge project at work, the days have been long. This week has been our first break in over two weeks, which is why when I sat down this morning to write about teaching and learning, I had no plan.

Then it hit me. This past weekend I drove myself to Mountain Home, Arkansas to meet with some of the best people in the world. They are all educators, either at colleges or at k-12 schools, and they are some of the most passionate people I have ever met. Over a day and a half, we made a lot of decisions about how our professional organization is going to move forward to support English teachers. A couple of the ways that we support English teachers is through our participation in the ACC Conference, a conference in Little Rock where all the core subjects get together and share what we are doing that works, and the Anthology of student and teacher writing.

My professional organization, ACTELA, stands for the Arkansas Council for the Teachers of English Language Arts (playfully called nutella by my co-facilitator). This retreat sparked conversations that sent me home thinking about the future of education. Where are we going? What do we really care about? Is it really all about tests? And the number one question I was asking myself was how do I get other English teachers to see the value of joining?

I must tell you, I feel invigorated after this weekend. My brain hurt from all of the discussion, but my heart felt better. As a teacher it’s easy to get bogged down in the negativity that surrounds us all. If you are a teacher, you know what I’m talking about. We get up early every day, most days we go to bed late, looking to do everything that we can to make sure that our kids, because at some point that’s what they become, have everything that they need to be successful. At the same time, it seems like every day we face negativity, from learners, from parents, but it’s the worst when we face it from our coworkers.

I didn’t know where this post was going when I began, but I know where it is going now. If you aren’t already involved in your professional community, join. Americans are always sitting passively by while the world protests around us, but the one way that you and I can make a difference in the world of education is to get involved! Join ACTELA if you teach English in the state of Arkansas. If you teach the other subjects, join your own professional organization. We have to stop sitting back and letting the world change around us, and I truly believe that the first step is to support ourselves professionally.


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