“We are the future of English” was one of the first phrases that really stuck out to me at my very first NCTE Convention. There are a lot of expectations wrapped up in that one phrase. I think it is telling us that we are always moving forward, always improving. It also fit very well with the theme of NCTE 13: “(Re)Inventing the Future of English.”
Then the First Wave performers took the stage and absolutely blew me away. They were amazing!!
The First Wave is a group of students from the University of Wisconsin. They are artists who write and choreograph their own performances and present through the mediums of spoken word and hip hop. To learn more about the group, visit this site: http://omai.wisc.edu/.
These students had a powerful message to share with us that day. These were students that didn’t fit in the traditional mold that school was trying to make them fit into. These were students who felt their cultural identity was ignored in school. These were students who didn’t see any connections between what teachers thought they should learn and their own lives.
Why do we ignore these kids?
Why do we want our students to fit into a mold?
Listening to their performance made me do a lot of thinking about my own beliefs about how I want to teach English. How am I going to help my students discover and explore their own identities? Is what I will be teaching really going to help my students? How can I put my students in control of their own learning? In what ways can I acknowledge my students’ pasts, where they are right now, and where they want to be in the future?
Listening to the First Wave performers was an amazing kick-off to what would be one of the best learning experiences of my life! More blogs to come about my stellar experience at NCTE 13!