Fall 2018, Issue 9
We're thrilled to present the 9th issue of the Growing Scholars Chronicle, our 3rd issue as an editorial board. In this issue, you'll find a plethora of relevant information for English Education graduate students, useful for every step of your academic journey. Regarding conferences, Chris Bass offers a recap of the 2018 IFTE Conference in England, while ELATE-GS members give tips on making the most of your time at NCTE this year. Amber Jensen and Dr. Meghan Barnes discuss their experiences with the innovative three-article approach to dissertations, while Dr. Leigh A. Hall suggests secrets for crafting a fabulous job talk. Then Dr. Karly Grice shares the details her transition from grad student to first-year professor. Finally, Mandie Dunn, gives us a glimpse into the decision to rename our organization to ELATE, as we look ahead to 2019 ELATE (formerly CEE) Conference in Fayetteville!
Katie Alford, Arizona State University
Chris Bass, University of Illinois at Chicago
Amber Jensen, George Mason University
Russell Mayo, University of Illinois at Chicago
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 18
ELATE@ NCTE 2018
From the Editors of the Growing Scholars Chronicle
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17
ELATE Luncheon, 11:30 - 1:30 PM
F.09: ELATE Commission Meetings 1
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
G.41: ELATE Membership Meeting & Social Hour, 3:30 - 4:45 PM
ELATE-GS Business Meeting*
5:00 - 6:30 PM, Room 381 A
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18
K.06* Sharing Our Voices: Sustaining Teacher Educators' Desires to Acknowledge, Value, and Raise Student Voices, 2:45 - 4:00 PM
K.07: Critical Issues in English Education: Research by ELATE Research Initiative Award Winners,
2:45 - 4:00 PM
L.07 ELATE Commission Meetings 2
4:15 - 5:30 PM
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19
M.02* The Future is Now: Exploring 21st-Century Teaching Ideas with the Next Generation of English Teachers, 9:00 - 10:15 AM
*Denotes session sponsored by ELATE - Graduate Strand (ELATE-GS)
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 16
Included in this Issue
IFTE 2018 Conference Recap
Chris Bass 2
Upcoming Conferences 3
Tips for Making the Most of NCTE 4
Survival Tips for First Year Professors Dr. Karly Grice 5
Our New Name: English Language Arts Teacher Educators
Mandie Dunn 8
Advice for Grad Students: Three Article Dissertations
Amber Jensen 10
Blogger's Corner: "Three Secrets for Outstanding Job Talks"
Dr. Leigh A. Hall 13
CFP: Articles for ELATE-GS Newsletter 15
Accomplishments and Accolades of ELATE-GS Members 16
ELATE - Graduate Strand
IFTE 2018 Conference Recap
By Chris Bass
University of Illinois at Chicago
The International Federation for the Teaching of English (IFTE) held their conference June 22nd-24th, 2018. Andy Goodwyn, Professor of Education at University of Reading and President of IFTE, hosted the conference at Aston University in Birmingham, England. The IFTE conference aligned with the National Association for the Teachers of English’s (NATE) larger annual conference. There was much overlap in programming as both conferences attracted inter- national scholars, graduate students, and active teachers with interests in English education methods, literacy research, and professional development. This year’s theme, “So Many Voices, So Many Worlds” proved true as many events were open to participants of both conferences, which led to surprising opportunities for collaboration and networking amongst attendees. Such opportunities are exactly what IFTE promotes.
IFTE conferences are unique in that they are designed to link English Scholars from varying professional associations across the globe— including Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the United States. The conferences are a vital part of the organization’s mission statement, which is to “promote the work and voices of English and Literacy Teachers through its member associations and in the world of English teaching generally” (IFTE website). Keeping the desire of collaboration in focus, IFTE conferences always align with another national conference. While this year’s was NATE, the last conference aligned with the 2015 Conference for English Education (CEE) meeting in New York.
There was a friendly and intimate environment throughout the three days. Coffee and tea were provided between all sessions. As a result, conversations extended beyond formal sessions and into the longer break time. IFTE and NATE co-sponsored a formal panel of British journalists who discussed the implications of “Fake-News,” Brexit, and the limitations placed on journalists. It was clear that more conversations around educational reform, nationalist politics, and journalism need to be had amongst international colleagues.
Though there was much overlap between conferences, there were also sessions open only for IFTE members. These sessions were arranged to assure that each presentation represented scholarship of differing nations—for example, I presented alongside scholars from Australia. Such purposeful organization created opportunities to collaborate and network with international scholars, which can be difficult at larger conferences. Of course, it wouldn’t be a conference in England without pubs. Birmingham’s many pubs, including one conveniently located on Aston’s Green, became informal spaces in which attendees continued collaboration, and caught a few World Cup soccer matches, well into the evening.
Peter Smagorinsky, Distinguished Research Professor of English Education at University of Georgia, delivered the keynote presentation to a packed conference room (I was put on the waitlist and just made the cut to get in). His presentation, titled, “Literacy and Education: ‘It’s the context, stupid’” was an informal conversation about the concepts, “Best practices” and “high-leverage practices.” He explored the problems with such concepts and suggested that English Educators focus on preparing future educators to value and integrate local cultural contexts into the curriculum. More information about these ideas can be found in his article with the same title, recently published in Journal of Literacy Research.
The three day conference came to a close with the Harold Rosen Lecture delivered by Andy Goodwyn. Goodwyn focused on the life and times of Harold Rosen. It was an uplifting presentation about the power of literacy and the significance of literacy teachers. Goodwyn outlined the history of IFTE and shared how it has adapted to changes in education scholarship and policy. In addition to the presentation, awards were handed out: Peter Smagorinsky won an award for his contributions to IFTE and the field of English; Wayne Sawyer, Professor of Education at Western Sydney University, also received an award for his contributions to IFTE and field of English.
We look forward to connecting with everyone at the ELATE Summer Conference in July 2019!
IFTE 2018 Conference Recap (continued)
FOR YOUR CALENDAR
Indian Wells, CA | Nov 27 - Dec 1, 2018
Athens, GA | February 2-3, 2019
Birmingham, AL | February 8-10, 2019
CCCC 2019 :
Pittsburgh, PA | March 13–16, 2019
Toronto, Canada | April 5-9, 2019
ELATE (formerly CEE) 2019:
Fayetteville, AR | July 18-21, 2019
Baltimore, MD | November 21-21, 2019
Tampa, FL | December 4-7, 2019
While we find it re-energizing to be around so many passionate teachers and scholars, NCTE offers so much to experience that it can get a bit overwhelming. Therefore, we thought it would be helpful to provide some “tips” for maximizing all of the opportunities available at this year’s conference.
Edited by Christopher Bass
"Don't skip section get-togethers (that usually have appetizers) and the free, first-timers breakfast for first-time attendees." Dr. Lauren Zucker, Fordham University (2018 graduate) and English teacher @ Northern Highlands Regional High School
“If you attend a panel that you enjoy, don’t hesitate to meet the presenters after. This is a great opportunity to meet new people, put a face with a name, and exchange business cards.” Christopher Bass, Ph.D. Candidate @ University of Illinois at Chicago
“NCTE is exciting and there are so many wonderful sessions and so many people to meet. It's still ok to take a walk on your own, eat a meal by yourself, or step away from the conference center for a bit to re-energize (I find this particularly important as a deeply introverted person).” Mandie Dunn, Ph. D. Candidate @ Michigan State University
“Don't try to see/do everything. I used to try to be at sessions all day, every day of the conference. Bad idea. It's absolutely exhausting and your brain will be overloaded. Instead, review the full program early and find the sessions you really want to see prioritized by topic and/or speaker, maybe 1-2 per day. When in doubt, support a friend and see their session or split up and share notes afterward.” Russell Mayo, Ph.D. Candidate @ University of Illinois at Chicago
“Bring healthy, portable snacks with you--nuts, protein bars, fruit--to fuel your mind between sessions. If possible, make coffee or tea in your hotel room to avoid long lines.” Dr. Lauren Zucker
“I get LOTS of writing done at NCTE because there are so many inspirations there. Just find a dark corner in the convention hall (or go back to your hotel) once or twice a day to jot down your ideas for new article topics, collaborative ventures, potential research topics, and any other convention musings.” Katie Alford, Ph.D. Candidate @ Arizona State University
“If you have business cards, bring them with you. Consider printing a set with your name, institution, and contact info to exchange with people you'd like to connect with after the convention.” Dr. Lauren Zucker
"Many scholars use the conference time network, meet with colleagues from across the country, discuss publications and collaborative projects, or to just catch up. Many of us from Chicago also use this as a time to meet with each other because we're rarely all together in the same place at the same time back home!" Russell Mayo
“Don’t be afraid to take a break and soak it all in. Make time for yourself to sit and reflect. Have coffee with a new friend, or even just find somewhere quiet to collect your thoughts!” Dr. Nichole Barrett @ University of Buffalo
"Leave room in your suitcase for goodies snagged at the exhibit hall, or plan to ship a small box home from the convention center's shipping store. Check the program for the schedule of author signings, which take place in the exhibit hall." Dr. Lauren Zucker
Tips for Making the Most of NCTE
Survival Tips for First-Year Professors
By Dr. Karly Grice, Ph.D.
When I was first asked to write this piece, I was certain I had nothing to share. After all, I was doing my best just to survive year one, how could I possibly provide my peers advice beyond try to “do no harm” and “don’t die”? It often feels like I’m spending more of my time (poorly) putting out fires than doing anything else. Even this semester, the beginning of year two, I’m still wondering if I’m doing it right. As I’ve chatted with colleagues at various levels of their career and read early career professional advice columns, I’ve heard a lot of seemingly good strategies. One suggestion in particular seems to be the most common: be quiet. As a young professor, you should, to quote Aaron Burr from Hamilton, “Talk less. Smile more. Don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.” Unfortunately, much like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s representation of the titular Alexander Hamilton with “a lot of brains but no polish,” I just don’t fit this ideal. First of all, I’m a really passionate person. This has served me well in many phases of my life—my student evaluations frequently acknowledge my passion as notable and my colleagues comment that I actually seem to care about what’s happening (even in late afternoon Monday faculty meetings when other professors are buried in their phones). Others describe me as impassioned, spirited, fierce, fiery.
Second, I’ve spent enough time analyzing textual representations and real world institutions that reinforce systemic oppression and inequity to know that certain voices are often silenced: those of people minoritized based on non-dominant genders, races, sexualities, languages, religions, and abilities. Most insidiously, their passion is rhetorically transformed into “rage” by those within the institutions who don’t want to hear what they’re saying. Tone is policed, embodiment controlled, and voice silenced in an effort to maintain the status quo—the system that has, historically, not included these voices. As a woman, I’m used to this. My shift to assistant professor did not magically fix the complications of “talking while woman” that I experienced as a graduate student. Becoming Dr. Grice—while still immensely cool to think about—didn’t mean that my opinions would automatically be taken more seriously by the men in the room. I’ve had my enthusiastic description of my research to new students be assessed by the man to follow me with “geez, you talk a lot!” I’ve had to introduce myself to a room full of visiting educators after having a male colleague introduce the other two male professors to our audience but fail to introduce me. I’ve heard the ideas I’ve just explained to seemingly deaf ears be repeated verbatim by a man a few minutes later to eager approval.
As frustrating as these silencing tactics have been to me, I know that I have benefited from white privilege that has led my voice to more often be heard as “unthreateningly inquisitive” instead of “radically critical” as my academic sisters of color have been labeled. In preparation for this piece, I spoke about these experiences and frustrations with another young professor who is a Black woman. While she expressed kinship with my passion and drive, she made it clear that she didn’t feel safe being as vocal as I was. She explained that she felt the need to silently play the long game. I might be tagged as “dramatic,” “nagging,” or “hysterical,” but none of these epithets puts my personal life and professional livelihood in as great a risk as the labels women of color face.
It might seem at first glance that an individual working in the field of education would be welcomed for their fiery qualities. From the apocryphal W.B. Yeats (more likely misquoted from Plutarch) aphorism telling us that “education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire” to Rafe Esquith’s popular Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56, those of us in education are quite familiar with the figurative “fire” within conversations about education. However, based on the most common advice I’ve heard from others, I worry as a young faculty member that, perhaps, it is seen more as a danger than a delight, something to be controlled rather than harnessed. So, I decided to use this article as a chance to truly reckon with what it means for me as a fiery person to temper my nature while still being authentic within the academe. The following is how I’ve made sense of this:
Your spark got you hired—honor that: Speaking up, asking questions, and advocating for myself and others are all central to my identity and scholarship. I made all of this very clear in my cover letter and during my on-campus visit because I wanted to work somewhere that would embrace and elevate my purpose-driven work. Ultimately, there was something about this that led the hiring committee to decide they wanted me. After arriving on campus, I was told frequently by colleagues how excited they were to hear my fresh perspective on things as a new faculty member. Considering all of this, I’ve decided to continue to be unabashedly me at my job.
Getting fired up can be a good thing: The incessantly galvanizing nature of everyday life in 2018 is keeping the fire in the pit of my stomach burning more often than ever before. For better or worse, I feel energized by this feeling to do something—to do the work, to make a change, to better myself and the world in whatever way I can. I bring this fire into my classroom and have watched it also light up my students with passion and purpose. I’ve realized the times and spaces--most especially in my teaching and mentoring students--where embracing my fire has paid off for the greater good.
Find others to build a bonfire with: At a recent English education conference I heard Young Adult author Laurie Halse Anderson encourage the teachers in the room to “gather together around bonfires,” to build communities of support as we light up the world with our work. For me, this is my group chat of friends in academia who are also early career professors at different schools and regular calls with mentors who’ve withstood the heat in academia for decades. This has also meant finding supportive faculty members at my own university. Some of these community members are more senior faculty who help me navigate the university culture I’m still uncertain of, while others are newer hires like me who help me see that I’m not alone. In order to put my experiences into perspective and feel less alone, I now make gathering with these supportive colleagues and sharing my experiences and concerns with them a more intentional part of my schedule.
Don’t burn yourself out: Untenured faculty often get asked to do a lot of things. It can be very hard to say no to these offers, especially as someone who doesn’t have tenure yet. On top of these offers, women in academia (especially women of color) often bear the load of unrecognized emotional labor for both students and other faculty, leading to emotional exhaustion. I spent a month after spring semester mostly sleeping and trying to ameliorate the first year fatigue and wondering if this work was sustainable. I realized that if I wanted to stick around and do good work I’d have to protect myself from burn out. I have friends who remind me to practice self care, and when I don’t feel like I can say no, I ask a more senior faculty member in my community to say it for me. Ultimately, this self care is supported by my bonfire people, making cultivating that community even more critical to survival.
Try not to burn bridges: New faculty are valuable for the fresh insight they can provide to the university and department so long entrenched in their own culture and ways that they might not otherwise see what is happening. However, when young faculty do speak up against the structures that currently exist, they face the possibility of receiving negative repercussions from faculty resistant to change. It makes sense that some young faculty don’t want to burn bridges, especially minoritized scholars who have been historically and continuously denied access. In order to stay in the game and do the work, I’ve talked through my compulsion to “burn it all down” with my community of support and am trying to find more strategic ways to navigated this resistance to change. I still speak up, but I start with questions and ask for points of clarification as to why things are done a certain way, and I unpack these answers and experiences with colleagues who share my values and viewpoints.
Aim for a controlled burn: When your work is about pushing the status quo, especially in finding ways to center your students’ voices and restructure the systems of education that have historically silenced them, then your time within an institution itself will always be a bit contentious. The work you do and the things you highlight about higher education and its role in K-12 education are going to cause some sparks of resistance. Ultimately, I suggest aiming for a controlled burn. Use the fire to fuel your work, ignite your teaching, and (when necessary) burn down the barriers that would stand in your and your students’ ways. But also, have friends and colleagues handy with something to help keep your flame in check.
Further reading to keep the fires burning:
Brittany Cooper’s Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower.
Matthew R. Kay’s Not Light, but Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom.
James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time.
Soraya Chemaly’s Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger.
Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.
kc green / kcgreendotcom.com
Survival Tips for First-Year Professors (continued)
I have mentors through NCTE/CEE that I can go to for help in navigating this career
From my position as a member of the ELATE-GS leadership team, I got a small glimpse into the careful thought and precision that resulted in the renaming of the Conference on English Education as English Language Arts Teacher Educators (ELATE). When I attended my first executive board meeting as a graduate representative at NCTE convention in November, 2017, I learned that the wheels had been turning for years on this name change because members felt that CEE was not an accurate description of the vision of the organization or representative of the members. However, finding a new name meant understanding fully the purposes and goals of the organization, which required many conversations with members as well as completing the formal process to change the name in the bylaws, an official process that requires voting and approval. The official roll-out of ELATE at this 2018 meeting of National Council of Teachers of English is thus a cause for great celebration and renewed sense of purpose for our membership.
To give just a little of background of this change, in 2016, the leadership team of CEE revised the bylaws and purposes of the Conference on English Education. With new bylaws and refined purposes, the name CEE was still a bit of a hiccup. For some, the name was simply confusing. Some people wondered if CEE was a conference. There is a conference associated with CEE. It’s held every other year. However, CEE is an organization that is part of NCTE, and its reaches and purposes stretch far beyond the conference (although, I strongly recommend you consider attending the 2019 conference; if NCTE is marked by a little bit of end-of-the-semester frenzy, the feel and atmosphere of the CEE/ELATE conference is a cool summer breeze). Melanie Shoffner, Marshall George, Gholnescar Muhammad, Robert Petrone, and Detra-Price Denis were tasked with gathering information about how the membership viewed the purposes of the organization and proposing a possible new name that matched these purposes to the executive committee.
I personally would have been apprehensive about this task. Think about asking a bunch of literacy and English educators to consider the exact wording that represents what they think they do. Are you imagining someone pointing out that they don’t believe in representation? We can’t even agree on the wording of the question! Then think about trying to get them to agree on a single name to represent that wording. On top of that, think about everyone charged with gathering this information trying to find a communal time to meet to discuss what to do with the information. I think that Doodle poll was probably pretty epic.
All this to say, I think it’s absolutely amazing that the wonderful folks charged with guiding us through this change listened to its membership about what they saw as the purposes of the organization and thus landed on the name English Language Arts Teacher Educators (ELATE).
Here’s how it happened: First, the renaming committee sent a brief survey to a focus group consisting of current executive committee members, past CEE chairs, and the CEE graduate student leadership. Responses indicated that there was a disconnect between the name and the purpose/objectives of CEE, with the current name failing to clearly indicate the focus on teacher education. Then the findings of this report were shared with the full executive committee. Then, the renaming committee went back to work, sending a survey to the CEE Commissions Chairs/Co-chairs, CEE commission members, and current and past editors of English Education, asking for input about the purposes of the organization. The survey asked respondents about three categories of wording: organizational (are we a council, and association, or an organization?), content (do we do “English Language Arts teaching” “English & Language Arts Teaching” or “English language teaching”?), and membership (are we teacher educators, teacher education, or other?). Based on the responses the renaming committee developed a report of the responses. Then the committee communicated with the executive committee and Emily Kirkpatrick of NCTE and made recommendations for name changes, with three choices. These choices were then sent out to the membership so that we all could vote! We voted, and ELATE was chosen and approved by the membership. I think members of the renaming committee are elated.
The organizing purpose of ELATE is to “serve those NCTE members who are engaged in the preparation, support, and continuing education of teachers of English language arts/literacy. ELATE has reliable researchers and educators who can tell the true stories of effective English teacher education.” I think the name is clearer and sharper and reflects what our members do. I feel proud to be part of ELATE and to be an English Language Arts teacher educator. The new name is less confusing and defines what we as a membership share and why we are a group within NCTE that needs distinguishing from just teachers of English. It’s easy to say the acronym, and I think we can now look forward to the ELATE conference without being confused about why we are having a Conference on English Education Conference.
I’m also a fan of the new logo. I loved listening to Mollie Blackburn carefully explain in our executive committee meeting that the orange wasn’t too bright and jarring and how they had debated about different shades and were confident this particular orange and blue would complement NCTE’s new branding logo but also be pleasing to the eye. A lot of care went into the design process.
This new name is being rolled out with the new logo as part of a rebranding of the organization, following NCTE’s rebranding last year. It feels to me like a fresh coat of paint. I’m ready to get to work. But, before I do, I’m going to once again give my heartfelt thanks to Melanie, Marshall, Gholdy, Rob, and Detra for heading up this effort, to my shero Mollie Blackburn for her steadfast leadership as chair of CEE, now ELATE, over the past two years, and to everyone on the executive committee for their efforts on this initiative. I hope you will take a moment to express your thanks as well!
Our New Name: ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS TEACHER EDUCATORS
By Mandie Dunn, ELATE-GS President
If it hadn't been for the ELATE-GS (formerly CEE-GS), my dissertation would have looked VERY different than it does (...will, when I finish it this year!). Like many of us in this group, I am not in a doctoral program tailored specifically for English Educators. My program is in English (Writing & Rhetoric), and I've had the fortune and flexibility to be able to tailor my research and teaching to my interest in working with pre-service English teachers, but it's required some strategizing on my part. At my comp exam defense, the education professor on my committee suggested I consider writing a "three-article dissertation" (TAD) rather than a traditional monograph manuscript. The other committee members and I looked at him with raised eyebrows, but I was intrigued.
My research on this dissertation format led me to discover that many doctoral programs in the sciences, and more recently, in education, have adapted an articles-based dissertation to support PhD students' contribution to and engagement in the academic fields during their doctoral studies. Talking to Dr. Meghan Barnes, currently an Assistant Professor at University of North Carolina - Charlotte, about her experience writing a TAD while studying at the University of Georgia clinched my decision to write my dissertation in this format, and to pioneer the TAD in my own program. Luckily, I had the trust and support of my committee on this decision, but I wanted to share what I discovered with other PhD students in case you'd like to consider a similar approach! In this article, you'll find common questions about the TAD format with answers from Meghan and me as we reflect on our own experiences.
Amber Jensen, George Mason University
Advice for Grad Students:
The Three Article Dissertation
Dr. Meghan Barnes
So what is a three-article dissertation (TAD)?
Meghan: It really differs by university in terms of what is expected. In my case, I had an introduction, three articles (or what will become your three articles; the expectation is that you send them to scholarly journals for publication), and a conclusion. My lit reviews and theoretical frameworks were embedded in each of the three articles, so even though there was some framing of those in the introduction, it wasn't like a traditional five chapter dissertation in that way.
Amber: My dissertation format is modeled pretty closely to Meghan's (thanks, MB!). Many of the programs I researched described it similarly to how Meghan described hers: The Vanderbilt College of Education defines their version of the TAD as "three thematically linked papers plus a 'coat.' The coat is a narrative that explains how the papers collectively make progress toward a broad research question, but focus on that question in different ways" (Vanderbilt College of Education). The main difference is that each article stands alone, but is connected thematically.
How, when, and why did you decide to write your dissertation in this format?
Meghan: I didn't have any interest in publishing a book at this juncture in my career. My major professor, Peter Smagorinksy, had mentored me in a lot of writing and publishing in journal articles during the first years of my program, so when it came to the dissertation, I felt more confident about writing journal articles. It helped that the two doctoral students who had worked with Peter in the previous years had written three-article dissertations, and I had watched them go through that process, so it's what I knew. Because I had been collecting data for my longitudinal study throughout my program, I was overwhelmed with data and it was easier to think about it in chunks of three different articles than to try to look at the data in terms of one focused message.
Amber: At the point of my comp exam defense and moving into my dissertation proposal, I knew my dissertation questions, but I still wasn't quite sure who my target audience was: English educators? Composition scholars/teachers? Writing the dissertation in three articles allowed me to practice/explore writing toward these various audiences, rather than committing to one line of inquiry, one guiding theoretical framework, one body of literature. It gave me the flexibility I want to continue to have in my future scholarship, rather than feeling pigeonholed. Granted, the three articles I ended up writing were VERY different than the three I proposed in my dissertation prospectus, but that's the nature of research, right?
What were the benefits of writing a TAD?
Meghan: I work well with deadlines; I need a deadline in 3 weeks, not 3 months. It worked for me in terms of setting those quick deadlines and a sense of accomplishment for that piece. It really helped to determine the publication venue for my articles so I could write with a specific audience and voice in mind. Finally, it was motivating to write knowing that this would serve a purpose beyond submitting to my committee!
Amber: My chair warned me over and over that writing a TAD is not easier than writing a traditional dissertation (she was right!). But it worked in my situation because I am having my first baby this year, and was worried about starting a new job with a new baby and being on the clock for tenure publications. I wanted to have some concrete publications going into my first year as a full-time professor, rather than having to revisit my dissertation and convert my research into articles at that point. Practically, I also found it beneficial to have a real audience to write for beyond my 4-person committee.
What were the challenges?
Meghan: The introduction and conclusion were stressful. They were important because you need to have a unified, cohesive message about your work. It ended up being more time-consuming than I thought it would be!
Amber: Still writing. So far: I was surprised at how difficult it is to write LESS than it would be to write MORE. Like Meghan, I have a TON of data from a longitudinal, qualitative study that spanned various research sites. It's hard to not write about everything I think I have something to say something about. In a traditional dissertation, you just have more room to explore with fewer and looser restrictions on formatting, length, etc. (But learning to write for academic journals is such an important skill, and I'm glad I'm being mentored along the way toward this!). Also, this caveat from the George Mason University Ph.D. Program in Psychology "TAD Guidelines" worried me: "It is the committee's decision about what is considered 'publishable,' and not the editors'. In some circumstances, a committee may even require revisions to a manuscript that has been accepted for publication (or even published) for inclusion in the dissertation." We'll see what happens!
How did you decide on your three articles, considering the bulk of your data?
Meghan: My first article drew on interviews and blogs written over time in the voices of students. Article 2 was a self-study, where I inquired about what worked and what didn't. I looked at focus group data, students' discussions in class, my own field notes, and document analysis. Article 3 was my surprise article: a case study of one person who ended up providing tons of interesting data. I couldn't have predicted that, but he became a case study of his own.
Amber: Similarly, my three articles drew on different data sources and ended up representing the three phases of my research project itself: Article 1 focused on a Methods course I taught, exploring its pedagogical approaches and interventions; I drew upon a full class of participants. For article 2, I used interview data for a semester-long follow up study of four of those original participants. Like Meghan, my third article became a case study about one of the participants in particular. I like how the three articles follow my research trajectory and narrow in scope. They gave me practice writing in different ways and analyzing different sets of data using different methods.
What kind of support was most helpful?
Meghan: Constant feedback. Every committee works differently, but my major professor wanted all of my drafts before we sent them to the committee. He supportively ripped them apart and gave me lots of constructive feedback along the way. Using his feedback, I revised before sending the whole dissertation to my committee, about one month before my scheduled defense. I ended up revising all of the articles before sending them off to journals -- but had all three published in the first semester I was an Assistant Professor!
Amber: Having readers really specific to the journal I was writing for was the most helpful part to me. Because some of the people on my committee aren't as squarely within the field I was writing for (English Education), I ended up adding an outside reader to my committee, from another university, who ended up being just as invested in and supportive of my process writing these pieces. I could not have done it without her (shout out here to Anne Whitney!). I would have loved to have a writing group of peers, but that didn't work out for me, unfortunately.
What advice do you want to leave with grad students interested in the TAD?
Meghan: Do your research early if possible, and you can even begin analyzing your data and writing it. It's helpful to write an empirical research article, if you can, before going into the dissertation so it's not your first one. Have early conversations with your advisors, and talk to previous students about their experiences! Set time goals, have a calendar, and stick to your deadlines. Join a writing group if you can -- and don't forget to draw on your ELATE colleagues!
Amber: If you think a TAD is something you're interested in, get your committee on board as early as possible! I was surprised to learn that some programs allow students to use articles they have written earlier in their programs as part of their dissertation. Imagine the weight that takes off during the final year, when you're job searching, stressing about your future, etc. Don't assume the TAD will be easier, but find the resources that will help you navigate it. Reach out to me or Meghan if you have any questions!
Recommended Reading: Watson, D., and Nehls, K. (2016). "Alternative Dissertation Formats: Preparing Scholars for the Academy and Beyond." in Contemporary Approaches to Dissertation Development and Research Methods (ed. Storey and Hesbol). Hershey, PA: IGI Global, 43-52.
The Three Article Dissertation (continued)
#1. A CATCHPHRASE
Leigh A. Hall is a Professor of Education at the University of Wyoming and holds the Wyoming Excellence in Higher Education Endowed Chair in Literacy Education. Dr. Hall was a middle grades teacher before earning her PhD from Michigan State University in 2005. Prior to her current position at the University of Wyoming, Hall was an Associate Professor of Literacy Education at UNC-Chapel Hill. Hall’s research and scholarship focuses on adolescent literacy, with a particular specializations in working with struggling readers/writers and technology uses in the classroom. Dr. Hall is an accomplished scholar as well as an active blogger and vlogger via her site TeachingAcademia.com,, which offers excellent tools and advice for navigating academia as graduate students, teachers, and early scholars of English Education
Column edited by Russell Mayo, University of Illinois at Chicago
"Three Secrets You Need for an Outstanding Job Talk"
by Dr. Leigh A. Hall, Ph.D.
Job talks can be stressful, but they don’t have to be. They can be successful, engaging, fun to give and listen to. But how do you do that?
Today, I’m going to give you three tips to help you stand out from the pack. These are three things that probably no one else is doing that can help make you successful and memorable and help get you the job you want.
Now, these are not going to be the normal components of a successful job talk. Normally, people tell you things like "You have to be organized," or "You have to stick to the time frame that you’re given." They might also say you have to clearly show how your research builds on a significant problem (or how it builds on the literature) and that it’s high-quality research. And you still want to do all of those things.
But guess what? Lots of people know how to do those things! So, if you want to break free from the pack, how do you do that? I’m going to share with you three things that I did in my own job talk. In fact, I had what I would consider to be a very harsh critic tell me that it was THE best job talk he ever saw. And this is somebody that I admire and respect very much.
As I tell you what these things are, I want you to keep in mind that I still did all the stuff that people tell you to do: I was still organized, I still stuck to the time-frame they gave me, I still showed how my research contributed to the literature, I still showed that it was a high-quality research project. I still gave my data. I still gave my findings. I still did a lot of the traditional stuff that people are always telling you that you need to do in a job talk, but I ramped it up a level by adding in these three things:
This is going to be something actionable yet memorable for your audience. It’s going to be a short phrase, three-to-five words in length. Think about this: Your audience can only retain so much information. What is it, when they walk away, that you want to have stuck in their heads? For example, my catchphrase for this particular job talk was “Tell Their Story.” I’ll extend that example in moment.
Very early on, in the first five minutes, I wove that in by having that up on the screen and saying it—so it hit on some multiple modalities there. And I kept repeating it periodically, dropping it in here and there to remind them of the catchphrase. I ended the talk with it being visually presented and with me verbally saying it. The catchphrase is something that you want them thinking about: a short, sweet, actionable item.
Present them with an idea worth sharing. For this, you really want to think TED Talk here. Now, TED Talks are sometimes twenty minutes—some are even shorter than that. While you may have an hour or more for your talk, you can still draw on some of the things about giving a successful TED Talk and apply them here to the job talk—knowing that your talk also has specific components it has to have, you can still utilize this strategy.
So think about it: What’s your idea worth sharing? Present it as an action, an actionable item that people need to DO in response to a question or problem you might have. My example here is “How will you tell the stories of others in ethical and equitable ways that help society?”
In my job talk, I thought about the fact that, as researchers, we are telling the stories of other people. In fact, that’s where my catchphrase, “Tell their stories,” comes from. That’s also where my question comes from, “How will you tell the stories of others in ways that are ethical and equitable and that helps society as a whole?” That’s what I want my audience thinking about.
They may do research in any number of areas. Some might be in line with what I do in literacy, others might be in their own separate fields but are coming to my job talk because they will be working with me in some capacity. When they leave, though, they can think about my ideas in ways that are broader than just my little academic niche. They can be thinking about this idea when they share their research, through a conference presentation, a video, a research paper: How am I representing others? Is it ethical? Is it equitable? How am I helping society? How am I telling the stories of others?
That catchphrase and that question resonates with people across disciplines. It doesn’t matter if they’re in my specialty discipline or not. So these are two things that my audience can leave with and potentially can contribute to their own work. That way, it’s not just about me, like “Hey, come see MY job talk. Come see if I am a good researcher...” It is still in part going to be about that, but now it’s also about: How I can fit it here? How we can work together and think about some substantive issues?
Again, very much in line with a TED Talk. Look, it’s still a job talk. You still have to hit certain things. You still have to have a theoretical framework. You still have to tell us about your data collection. You still have to tell us about certain things that are a little dry and un-story-like, at least on the surface, but it’s doesn’t have to be!
For me, what I did here is I thought about “What are the stories we have about our participants?” I talked about this journey that I went on where I learned about my research, my data—it’s not neutral, we know that. But when I started first sharing it, as a beginning scholar, I tended to think about it as “Here’s my data. Here’s my findings. Here’s what I learned. Here’s how it will help other researchers. Here’s how it helps us understand a problem.” But what I did when I packaged my talk as a story was I shifted the way that I framed it. So now I’m talking about “Here’s what I learned about what it means to share the stories of others through data. Here are the kinds of hard decisions because you can’t share every piece of data.
I had to realize that as a researcher, I am telling stories about people with data. What do those stories look like? Even though the participants are anonymous, and even though most of them don’t know I’m off talking about them, I like to think about them being in the room and this is the story I am telling about you: What story do I want to hear? What would your reaction be? That’s how I framed my job talk.
So I’m framing it about my journey as a researcher, and how I gave this thought to what it means to use data to tell stories about others. Of course the data is still contributing to the scholarly narrative. Of course I’m still sharing my research questions and data collection procedures and how I identified participants, but it’s all FRAMED around how I am telling stories. And that ties back into my catchphrase, “Tell their stories,” and it ties back into the idea that I want people to leave thinking about, which is “How are you telling the stories of others that you have in your research?” I don’t care if it’s one case study or a thousand people or more, large-scale quantitative study: What story are you telling? Is it ethical? Is it equitable? How it helping society? If not, what do you need to do to change?
Those are three components that I think you’re not going to hear a lot about—creating a catchphrase, giving them an idea worth sharing, and packaging your talk as a story—while obviously still keeping the other components of a job talk that you need to keep.. What do you think of these three ideas for how to make your talk really pop and stand out? Have your tried them? How did it go? What questions do you have?
This piece was excerpted from from Dr. Hall’s original video, “Three Secrets You Need For An Outstanding Job Talk,” posted July 2018. You should also check out her related video, “What to Expect When You Give A Job Talk” from August 2018.
#3. PACKAGE YOUR TALK AS A STORY
#2. An idea worth
"Outstanding Job Talk Secrets"
Seeking Submissions for the next issue of Growing Scholars Chronicle
Did you present at NCTE this year? Are you trying something new in your methods class? Do you have advice to share?
The Growing Scholars Chronicle is seeking contributions by ELATE-GS members (including early career professors!) for our next issue.
Feature articles (800 - 1,200 words). You may submit manuscripts on any topic that will appeal to graduate students of English Education. Formats include articles, essays, research, art, creative writing, multi-modal etc.
Book reviews (75 - 100 words) of texts used in methods courses. These should follow annotated bibliography format.
Advice for graduate students (varying length, no more than 2,000 words) regarding aspects of graduate school including, but not limited to: writing, collaboration, submitting proposals, time management, reference management , and working with professors on or off campus.
Member accolades: If something great is happening, we want to hear about it!
Submit: firstname.lastname@example.org in Google Doc or Word Doc. Include your name and university affiliation.
Do you write more like a "teacher" or as yourself?
Accomplishments & Accolades
of ELATE-GS Members
Published “The Complexity of Becoming a Dialogic Teacher in an English Language Arts Classroom” in Changing English, in May 2018.
Published “What Language Communicates: Surfacing Language Ideology with High School Students” in the English Journal in July 2018.
Published “On Second Thought: Teaching for Social Justice through Sports Culture” in English Journal, in July 2018.
Lindsey W. Rowe
Published “Say It in Your Language: Supporting Translanguaging in Multilingual Classes” in The Reading Teacher in January 2018.
Charlotte L. Land
Published “Moments of c/Critical Coaching: An Analysis of Conversations between Cooperating Teachers and Preservice Teachers in Journal of Teacher Education in 2018.
Chapter "Confronting my Disabling Pedagogy: Reconstructing an English/ Language Arts Classroom as an Enabling Space" to-be published in Dismantling the Disabling Environments of Education: Creating New Cultures and Contexts for Accommodating Difference, P. Smagorinsky et al. (Eds.) Peter Lang, 2019.
Seth D. French
Co-authored the book chapter “Fiction or reality? The reciprocity of school film literacy representations and educational policy, 1955–2017” in. S. Hochstetler (Ed.), Reform and Literacy Education: History, Effects, and Advocacy (65-80). London: Routledge in 2018.
Co-authored a book chapter ,"Critical Experiences With Assets-Based Literacy Intervention: A Social Design Experiment" in Clinical Experiences in Teacher Education: Critical, Project- Based Interventions in Diverse Classrooms. In K. Zenkov & K. Pytash (Eds.) Routledge Press. 2019.
Received the 2018 English Leadership Quarterly Best Article Award for her publication “Take Time to Write!: A Teacher’s Story of Writing Within a Community of Teacher Writers.”
Chapter "'all schooled up': One Teacher’s Path toward Deschooling” to-be published in Unsettling Education: Searching for Ethical Footing in a Time of Reform, B. Charest and K. Sjostrom. (Eds.) Peter Lang, 2019.
Published “Building an Aesthetic Literary Experience For Twenty-First Century Students” in The International Journal of Humanities Education in June 2018.