From the BLTN Director: Teaching and Writing for Joy

Jun 3rd, 2022 | By | Category: Featured, Spring / Summer 2022
Dr. Beverly J. Moss directs the Bread Loaf Teacher Network.
She is also an associate professor of English at The Ohio State University.

As I sit here preparing another “From the BLTN Director” statement, I am filled with anticipation and excitement that BLTN fellows will be gathering in person on our three Bread Loaf campuses this summer. I look forward to conversations in the Barn in Vermont and to the pictures posted on BLSE social media from our Oxford BLTN fellows. I am eager to get reports from our new campus in Monterey. Yet, I am also disappointed that we are, yet again, in the midst of another spike in COVID cases. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought we would be on the other side of this pandemic by now. I am also saddened by the spike in gun violence in this country—19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas gunned down by a teenager; 10 Black grocery shoppers gunned down by an 18 year-old white supremacist; at least 14 mass shootings over the Memorial Day weekend. And educators who actively engage in anti-racist practices are being targeted by uninformed and misinformed parents and politicians. Schools across the country find themselves understaffed because of the huge number of teachers who are leaving the profession every day. It’s clear to see why so many of us are feeling stressed and in need of restorative care and energizing experiences (see Eric Darnell Pritchard’s discussion of Restorative Literacies). That is why we come to Bread Loaf. That is why we participate in the Bread Loaf Teacher Network—to become energized, to refresh, to reconnect with our love of learning, reading, and writing, to engage in practices that lead to transformative, socially just teaching—to find our joy.

This summer we return to a space where collaboration is foundational to learning, where diverse ways of knowing are encouraged, where working across differences is necessary. We return to a space where we can exhale. Yes, there are articles and books to read, papers to write, scenes to act out, questions to ask, and collaborative projects to plan. But more than anything, there is joy. When we gather this summer, the Bread Loaf Teacher Network will be guided by our 2022-23 theme—Teaching and Writing for Joy. This theme suggests, for me, several questions:

  • What brings one joy in their teaching?
  • What is the relationship between socially just, anti-racist pedagogy, and teaching for joy?
  • How do teachers communicate their joy in teaching to their students?
  • How can teachers communicate their joy to those outside their school buildings?
  • What do we mean by “joy”?
  • How can the Bread Loaf Teacher Network support our fellows and their students in seeing the joy of literacy as advocacy?

I ask you, whether you are a current or former fellow, to join the Bread Loaf Teacher Network this year as we work to find our joy (if you think you’ve lost it) or to spread our joy as we read, teach, and write about issues that we must engage to move forward as a country.

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