From the BLTN Director: Conversations about Anti-racist Pedagogies and Ethical Teaching

When I think about BLTN’s commitment to youth advocacy and activism through literacy, teacher and youth collaboration across and within difference, and inclusivity and socially transformative pedagogy, I could not imagine, given our mission, how we would not engage in discussions about anti-racist pedagogies. We cannot be activists and support our students’ activism if we

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The Bread Loaf Teacher Network Journal, published semi-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.

Tales of Two Pandemics

I’ve been mulling how to send this issue out into the world. This morning, I woke up to Kwame Alexander and Rachel Martin reading NPR’s “‘I Wake With Wonder': A Crowdsourced Poem Of Pandemic Pain And Hope”, a community poem inspired by Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”. I heard Alexander’s “This year was heavy,” but I might have dozed again before I heard these vexing lines:

In this world of
Bad audio connections,
I have learned to listen
After such stillness,
Nothing's the same.

After listening to the whole lovely piece’s call to our spirits to rise, now, at the end of this heavy--and in moments deeply inspiring--school year, I have in mind what I’d like to say to you with this collection: Nothing’s the same

This issue of the BLTN Journal is full of tales from our two intertwined pandemics: enduring institutional racism and Covid-19. As you read and view these pieces, I hope you’ll find real hope in the way that BLTN teachers and youth rise, and inspire positive change. 

I don’t think it’s hyperbole to speak of educators’ improvisation, ingenuity, and resilience this year as “heroic.” If you read Beverly Moss’ call to us to apply “deep respect and ethical behavior toward minoritized populations and their linguistic practices” and bring that lens to the pieces in this issue, you will see BLTN rising to the occasion. Look for that kind of heroics in the way BLTN teachers are co-designing educational experiences with young people. Look for ways that their practices--drawing from conversations and study in Bread Loaf’s tutorials, and rooted in deep respect and ethical behavior--lead to small victories and to larger system change. 

Maybe part of what can’t be the same as we finish this year is our understanding of what young people can do to inform their educational experiences. “Learn to listen” freshly as you browse this issue. Listen especially to the empathy, optimism, commitment, and care in the voices of young people reflecting on their teachers’ struggles, on the power of celebrating difference, on how they want to be and learn and serve in their communities. Their voices say in different ways what Andrea Lunsford urges in her closing remarks from “Re-Imagining the Teaching of Writing.” (I hope you’ll listen to these, too.) Andrea evokes a 2015 Adam Banks talk urging us to courage and boldness in addressing social justice, honoring the knowledge in our communities, and opening ourselves to new and fresh genres of expression. “Being safe,” she reminds us with Banks in mind, “will never save us.”

Enjoy. And write back, please. We want to hear from you.

-Tom McKenna, Editor


Parable of the Sower: A Positive Afrofuturist Obsession

When I first read Parable of the Sower in a 2017 Bread Loaf School of English class titled Cli-fi, it gave me chills. The apocalyptic novel, published in 1993 and set in 2024, seems prophetic, and in no uncertain terms, eerie. Butler’s work stood out to me because it was so prescient and seemed to predict,

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“How Do I Language?”: Linguistic Justice Lessons from Ninth Grade

Background Last summer we had the opportunity and privilege to meet with Bread Loaf professor Dr. April Baker-Bell as she presented on linguistic justice during a BLTN session. Her calls for “critical conscious-raising of linguistic justice” and for confronting systems of white supremacy in both language and society were catalysts for our collaborative unit for

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BLTN NextGen

Barriers and Bridges: The Lawrence Masks Project

Jonathan, a second grader, approached the laptop where he could talk to me. He introduced himself and was excited to show me his red mask decorated with stickers. “This is my mask. I wrote my mom’s name on it because I am going to give it to her. But I heard my parents say they

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BLTN NextGen at ¡Confluencia!

On Saturday, November 21, Lena Ashooh (NextGen – VT), Leah Sneed (NextGen – Louisville), and Faith Omosefe (NextGen – Lawrence) opened for Joy Harjo’s session at NCTE’s Annual Convention, ¡Confluencia! Lena, Leah, and Faith worked for months with Bread Loaf School of English faculty and acting ensemble member, Jonathan Fried, in a process paralleling Jonathan’s

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BLTN Teachers

BLTN: Changing Lives and Changing Systems

Bread Loaf Teacher Network fellows compose reflective reports at key moments in a year. At the close of summer, they reflect on their BLSE course learning and they propose collaborative plans for projects and exchanges in the year ahead. At mid-year, they share their learning from the first half of the year, often using that

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Passion and Action: Hard Work, Intentional Rest, and Vulnerability in a Pandemic

There is a piece of writing advice that floats around in my mind, the origin of which I no longer remember (if you do, will you let me know?). Paraphrased, it’s something like: “When writing for children, one should never ask, ‘What lesson do children need?’ Instead, one should ask, ‘What lesson do I need?’

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BLTN Global

Re-Imagining the Teaching of Writing: An International Collaboration

Early in the morning on February 27, 2021 for attendees from all U.S. time zones, and early in the evening Pakistan time, over 70 educators gathered from across the farthest reaches BLTN, the Andover Bread Loaf Peace Literacy Network. Inspired by the 10th anniversary of Karachi-based The School of Writing (TSW), Director Mohsin Tejani (MA

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Mixtapes, Chicken, and the Liberal Arts Tradition: A Nairobi-Ohio Exchange

Editor’s Note: In Fall 2020, mid-pandemic, Gregory Booth of Sheridan High School in Ohio, and Sheilla Lupao of Rusinga School in Nairobi, Kenya enacted plans following the time-honored BLTN tradition of fostering meaning-making through written dialogue, scaffolding that dialogue from personal exchanges of perspective to more academic forms for thinking. What follows is a set of

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