Andy Schoenborn reflects on student choice while relating it to our own experience as educators in his current role as MCTE past president, and he invites you to attend the 2016 conference.  Register here.

as-pic-1As I sit to write, I look out my window while rain falls in steady drops to the earth.  The dark green grass stands vibrant against the gray sky and the not-yet-chilled air smells fresh – clean.  September is like Spring for teachers.  We have become rejuvenated and refreshed by the summer and the worries of last school year are washed away.  Teachers, like grass, cannot be fully refreshed by the summer rain alone.  To become vibrant against the gray, we need to cultivate our own growth by breaking loose hardened clay and fertilizing our minds with a renewed vigor.  

Our school districts understand this and help by beginning the year with professional development programs before the students arrive.  It is a good start but, like our students, for growth to take root we, too, need individualized instruction.  

If you are reading this post, you know this to be true because you are the master gardener of your learning.  You take an active role in shaping your path of growth by reading educational blogs and professional journals.  You stay connected with your favorite pages, hashtags, and writers on Facebook, Twitter, and podcasts.  No doubt, you belong to organizations like the National Writing Project, the National Council of Teachers of English, the International Reading Association or any of their affiliates.  Your thirst for knowledge and affirmation helps you to stay in the full bloom of a master teacher.

To inspire our students, we seek inspiration and learning communities to stimulate our personal growth through critical thinking, personal writing, and thoughtful reading.  In a certain slant of light, we assign ourselves homework to help enliven our experience in the profession and shape our growth.  Among those who embrace our collective learning journey the 2015 Global Teacher Prize recipient, Nancie Atwell, has long stood as an advocate of literacy for both students and teachers alike.  In her book, The Reading Zone, she reinforces that

There is no more important homework than reading. Research shows that the highest achieving students are those who devote leisure time to reading, even when the school day and year are only mid-length and homework isn’t excessive. Recently, the largest-ever international study of reading found that the single most important predictor of academic success is the amount of time children spend reading books, more important even than economic or social status. And one of the few predictors of high achievement in math and science is the amount of time children devote to pleasure reading. (130)

Atwell is not alone in her view of reading, Anne Lamott adds to her assertion and weaves writing into the conversation by acknowledging “writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored” (Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life).

True for our students.  True for us.  

Throughout the school year there are many ways to restore our learning buoyancy and the Michigan Council of Teachers of English (MCTE) Annual Conference is one of the first opportunities teachers have to connect face-to-face with other literacy-minded advocates.


Join us for the 2016 Fall Conference Choose Learning: The Preservation of Life, Liberty, and Literacy for All on Friday, October 7, 2016, at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing, Michigan, to be inspired; to see the power of words; and to be reminded of the role of literacy in both.  We have invited two stellar speakers for our morning keynote and our featured luncheon speaker.

Nancie Atwell, recipient of the Global Teacher Prize, 2015. Image from
Nancie Atwell, recipient of the Global Teacher Prize, 2015. Image from

Distinguished teacher, scholar, and author Nancie Atwell will be giving the morning keynote based on her research and experiences.  Nancie is a devoted advocate of student choice in reading to help students grow into academic success stories.  See and hear her response to the place of student choice in reading.  We are thrilled to invite you to learn with one of the most influential student-centered literacy advocate of the last few decades.  Fall Conference attendees are sure to leave with rich connections, welcome affirmations, and bright ideas to shape the year.

Spoken word poet Casey Rocheteau -
Spoken word poet Casey Rocheteau. Image from

The luncheon speaker, Casey Rocheteau, was born on Cape Cod, and raised as a sea witch. She was the recipient of the inaugural Write A House permanent residency in Detroit in 2014. She has attended Callaloo Writer’s Workshop, Cave Canem, and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Sicily. She is an Artist in Residence at InsideOut Literary Arts in Detroit. Her second poetry collection, The Dozen, was released on Sibling Rivalry Press in 2016.  Peruse Casey’s work on her website as you prepare for her stunning spoken word performances.

Among the varied literacy landscapes feeding the mind (and soul) the Michigan Council of Teachers of English Fall Conference provides a chance to reconnect and rejuvenate the minds of K-University educators.  Though not the only place it is one place where you can join the ranks of your fellow literacy advocates in a day to break new ground.

Andy SchoenbornAndy Schoenborn (@aschoenborn) is a Great Lakes Bay Region RUBY award and Ray Lawson Excellence in Teaching award-winning teacher of English at Mt. Pleasant High School in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.  He is a past-president of the Michigan Council of Teachers of English and a Chippewa River Writing Project teacher consultant with over 80 contact hours of professional development.  Andy focuses his work on creating supportive inquiry-oriented contexts for developing and performing literate behaviors, student-centered critical thinking, and digital collaboration.

Andy Schoenborn
+ posts