Teaching and Writing for Joy in the Anti-Woke Moment

What does it mean to teach and write for joy? Poet Toi Derricotte’s 2008 poem “Joy is an Act of Resistance” points to joy as foundational to Black Women’s active resistance to oppression. In her 1992 novel Possessing the Secret of Joy, Alice Walker suggests that “resistance is the secret of joy,” and award winning author,

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The Bread Loaf Teacher Network Journal, published annually, is edited by Tom McKenna, BLTN Director of Communications. Beverly Moss, BLTN Director, provides the guiding vision for the network and its digital initiatives. Contact Beverly Moss or Tom McKenna for more information or to submit content for upcoming issues.

Teaching and Writing for Joy

In her statement launching this issue, BLTN Director Beverly Moss presents teaching with and for joy as a radical act of resistance. What struck me as I worked with the many teachers and authors contributing to our "Teaching and Writing for Joy" edition of the Bread Loaf Teacher Network Journal, is the depth of commitment BLTNers bring to this work. 

The personal statements of our fellows—from which you’ll find excerpts in the “Meet the Fellows” post— testify to the power of BLTN as a collective of individuals who are deeply professional in their commitments to public education and to their communities. “Some Serious Joy,” a collection of Summer 2022 writings on the joys of summer study and on moments of joy in classrooms, reveals similar commitments.  (The title comes from Amanda Donovan’s description of her students’ motivation to do something authentically meaningful to them—conspire to honor their dedicated teachers.) Whether writing about finding unexpected support in Covid quarantine, intentional designs for play and creativity in classrooms, or, as Veronica Foster puts it, finding “the joy of embracing…uncertainty in community,” BLTN teachers are serious about creating and holding space for joy. 

To document and write about collaborations that create joy of learning across difference, as Lauren Davenport and Rabiah Khalil have done in “Insight on Sight,” is its own form of resistance, its own radical act. Like many others represented in this issue, Davenport and Khalil have joined Middlebury’s Conflict Transformation conversation by positioning students to experience the joy of nuanced conversations with peers from different places, experiences, and backgrounds and by sharing their learning through publication. We hope you will also read how Conflict Transformation funds have catalyzed groundbreaking community-centered work by Colin Baumgartner, Alex O’Brien, and a host of Next Generation Leadership Network and BLTN sites.

We’re proud of the work documented in this issue of BLTN Journal. While it’s a small sample of what’s taking place across the network, we hope it represents BLTNers’ commitment to a hallmark of the Bread Loaf School of English: the serious joy of learning in community. 

Tom McKenna, Editor


Insight on Sight: Seeing One Another across Difference

Editor’s note: Rabiah Khalil and Lauren Davenport met as neighbors on the shores of Lake Dunmore in Summer 2022, not far from their graduate study on the Vermont campus of the Bread Loaf School of English. This collaboratively authored article tells their story of a rich exchange between their high school classrooms during the 2022-2023

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Meet the Fellows: BLTN 2023-24

BLTN Fellows come to us from 21 U.S. states, Washington D.C., Egypt, and Scotland. They will study at all three of our campuses this summer, and some will participate as online students. Throughout the summer they will discuss issues in the field with a special focus for finding voice and impact in the anti-woke climate.

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Some Serious Joy: Notes from BLTN

Last July, working under the theme, “Teaching and Writing for Joy,” BLTN teachers from each campus prompted one another to write about the joy they had found in the 2021-22 school year, or the joy they were finding during summer study. This piece samples those posts from BreadWeb, Bread Loaf’s social network. In a lovely

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BLTN Teachers

Seeds of Change: Mini-Grants for Social Change and Conflict Transformation

This fall, my students at J.R.Tucker High School in Henrico, Virginia, received a BLTN Change Action Grant from Middlebury’s Kathryn Wasserman Davis Collaborative in Conflict Transformation. Because my students this year were a particularly socially-conscious group, I designed my grant application to challenge them to write their own mini-grant proposals targeting local issues in their

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Literacy Nights and Languages: Conflict Transformation in South Burlington Libraries

I go to the public library a lot. I search for new books for my classroom and for books to read with my own kids. In October 2021, I had a passing conversation with a librarian about world language books. The conversation would eventually lead to a series of literacy events for EL families and

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BLTN NextGen

NextGen Youth Learn, Write, Listen, Share, Act, Love, and Dance across Difference

Here are a few of the school year’s events and highlights from the BLTN’s youth leadership network, BLTN NextGen. To keep up to date on NextGen events and community action work during the school year, be sure to sign up to receive the monthly BLTN Newsletter. NextGen Cross-site travel and local programming have been funded

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NextGen Confronts Violence

On May 18, NextGen members and supporters gathered to discuss safety and violence in their communities. The meeting had an air of poignancy and urgency. One of NextGen’s founding youth members from South Carolina, Na’Zae Baltimore was killed less than a month prior, in an act of senseless gun violence. After a tribute to Na’Zae,

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Campus News

“The Work that Found Me”: An Interview with Professor Michelle Bachelor Robinson

On May 4, 2023, BLTN Director Beverly Moss interviewed Spelman and Bread Loaf professor Dr. Michelle Bachelor Robinson. The topics they covered ranged from Robinson’s experiences high school teaching, finding graduate study focus in the rhetoric field, oral history work, African American rhetoric, and Professor Robinson’s courses at Bread Loaf Vermont this summer, Oral and

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BLTN News and Announcements

Here are just a few news items from BLTNers over the course of the 2022-23 academic year. Please feel free to update us on awards, presentations, new roles, or programs via comments below or an email to bltn@middlebury.edu . Fallon Abel (MA ’19) received a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching Research to “develop project-based, student-directed Social

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