MSU educators honored at national English teaching conference

November 15, 2016
Raven Jones Stanbrough

Raven Jones Stanbrough. Photo courtesy of Communications and Brand Strategy.

Several people from the Michigan State University College of Education will present or be honored at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual convention this year.

Raven Jones Stanbrough, an assistant professor and Detroit-area internship coordinator for the MSU Teacher Preparation Program, is among six being honored with the Early Career Educator of Color Leadership Award. She is the only recipient from Michigan. The two-year honor provides educators a forum for professional collaboration and development, with the opportunity to attend the conference (year one) and present a session (year two).

Other representatives of the College of Education at this year’s NCTE convention include current students and recent alumni, representing two separate research projects.

One group took a class with April Baker-Bell, an assistant professor in the College of Arts and Letters, and will present alongside her.

“I invited these students in particular to present their work with me because each of them remained in touch with me following our spring 2015 course.” They took Baker-Bell’s ENG 302 course, which is designed for students in the Department of English and a requirement for those pursuing secondary education certification. “Each of these students displayed remarkable leadership qualities in my course, collaborated well with their peers and had a willingness to engage in community activism around linguistic discrimination.”

The course was an introduction to theories, research and pedagogies surrounding various U.S.-based Englishes that are stigmatized; Baker-Bell’s course primarily focused on African-American Language (AAL). AAL is spoken by many African-Americans, and refers to words, patterns of pronunciation and grammar that are directly and intimately linked with a history of oppression, resistance and rich linguistic and literacy achievement among African-Americans.

At NCTE, Baker-Bell and the four pre-service/student teachers will present activities that current teachers can use and leverage in their classroom:

  • Kelsey Wiley, a senior majoring in English
  • Jordon Robb, B.A. ’16 (History Education), in his teaching internship year
  • Drexton Sportel, B.A. ’15 (Education), a fifth-grade teacher in Duluth, Ga.
  • Han Nguyen-Tran, B.A. ’16 (Education), in her internship year

“This year, NCTE received more than 1,700 proposals, so the selection process was very difficult, yet these students were accepted,” Baker-Bell added. “These students and recent graduates will be presenting their work among researchers, scholars, teacher educators and in-service teachers from all around the nation.”

An additional group of College of Education interns, all of whom took a class with Assistant Professor Jennifer VanDerHeide, will be participating in a session called “The Future is Now: Exploring 21st Century Teaching Ideas.” The annual session includes interns and student teachers from across the U.S. who will present on teacher inquiry projects from their classroom. Last year, four English education interns from the college presented.

The presenters, all in their teaching internship year, are:

  • Alexandra Sekulovski, B.A. ’16 (English)
  • Lindsay Shafer, B.A. ’16 (English)
  • Jenna Pratt, B.A. ’16 (English)

They are all currently carrying out their plans in their internship classrooms, collecting teaching artifacts to analyze and to work toward answering their inquiry questions. At the conference, they will present what they did in their classroom and what they learned from the process.

“I am very impressed with the way they are building ideas they have learned in the Teacher Preparation Program,” said VanDerHeide, “and the ways they are implementing these ideas within the specific contexts of their field placement classrooms. I know they will be strong representatives of Michigan State University.”

The NCTE annual convention will be Nov. 17-20 in Atlanta, Ga.

Update 11/17/16: As a follow-up to being the first graduate students to receive a NCTE-Conference on English Education Research Initiative Grant last fall, Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education (CITE) doctoral candidate Cassie J. Brownell and alumnus Jon M. Wargo—now an assistant professor at Wayne State University—will also present at NCTE. The pair will have two presentations focused on their findings based on their work with sound.

The first presentation is centered around the larger #hearmyhome collaborative project, which asked the K-12 teachers and community to “earwitness” the world around them.

“At the heart of this presentation are questions concerning how, through writing with sound, English teachers may leverage audio, attune toward difference and inquire how sound can be a mechanism for writing with place in the ELA classroom,” Brownell shared.

Their second presentation, alongside other CEE Research Initiative Grant award winners, will explore how elementary prospective teachers used digital media to write community through and with sound. Brownell and Wargo’s second study inquired how hearing difference and listening to community re-educated the senses toward issues of difference, belonging and multiculturalism. Ultimately, Brownell and Wargo noted three ways that prospective teachers maintained a “proper distance”—a proximal, reflexive and reciprocal stance—through digitally composing their sound maps and reflections.


On the web

A recent collaboration on AAL between Baker-Bell, an MSU College of Education graduate student and Django Paris, associate professor of language and literacy, was highlighted in the cover story of the Spring/Summer 2016 New Educator.

Listen along with #hearmyhome by following the project on Twitter, Instagram and Soundcloud, or by joining the mailing list.