AATE National Conference 2016

The National AATE Conference is over for another year, and of course it was amazing! It began with a flash mob, wine, and poetry readers from Amelia Walker and concluded with blue wine, cheese, and these inspiring words from plenary speaker Misty Adoniou, “Don’t forget the teacher you wanted to be.” One of my favourite moments was the contrast between a snippet of John Green and the focus of Phil Cummings’ workshop. In response to the eternal student question, ‘Did the author really mean that?’ Green was of the opinion no, but it’s there anwyay, while Cummings focused in illustrating how deliberately he chooses every word, every symbol, and every image in his texts to create meaning. For example in Ride, Ricardo Ride! he uses, “In a once warm kitchen” instead of in a cold kitchen to indicate what has been lost, give an indictment on the situation, and emphasise the coldness and harshness of war.

Some of the common themes that emerged in the conference were:

  • The need for for a whole school literacy approach.
  • The political, ideological, historical, and cultural nature of literacy and literacy education.
  • The need for the work that students engage in to be authentic (getting students to engage with ‘stuff’ that matters, working collaboratively, and presenting work/findings to an authentic audience).
  • The word dialogic. Over and over again!
  • Multi literacies (there was a fantastic workshop about printed t-shirts that addressed this well).
  • The reductive nature of the current focus on ‘box ticking’ and using technology for surveillance.
  • Project based learning.

There was also a workshop that complemented the diversity in literature evening I went to. The focus was on the value of Border Crossing pedagogy for challenging ‘norms’, encouraging a willingness to learn, and for learning to live in difference. It included the screening of a great video, High School Girl, that helps students question what they think they know.

I left with a lot to consider, a lot to implement, and a few books to read of course. : )


Upcoming National AATE Conference


I admit it, I am a conference geek. I absolutely love the inspiration, the fresh ideas, and the collaboration that takes place at conferences. Of course there’s the lovely book stalls to browse through, all the fantastic resources I wish I could afford, and the amazing keynote speakers. So I’m excited to spending the first week of the holidays at the National AATE Conference. I have just signed up for the literary breakfast with Phil Cummings just to make the experience even more fun. He was my nanna’s neighbour growing up, so I always get a warm feeling of positive energy when I hear about how he’s going (like his book Ride, Ricardo, Ride! has just been shortlisted for the 2016 Children Book of the Year Awards) and love to hear him give talks.


Phil Cummings

The conference program looks amazing and I’m going to be spoilt for choice. There appears to be a lovely mix of the practical (eg Kelli McGraw’s Project Based Learning – Making it Work for the English Classroom) and the conceptual (eg Andy Goodwyn’s Is it ‘Critical Literacy’ or ‘Personal Growth’ or a bit of both? What do English teachers believe in about the purpose of English?) Time to get my English geek on, see you there!