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Annual Conference Information

7th Annual SUNY Cortland Literacy Department Conference

Celebrate the Power of Social and Emotional Learning: Building Empathy for Literacy Instruction

The SUNY Cortland Literacy Department is pleased to announce that we will be holding our 7th annual conference virtually. Details about the conference are below.

Conference Details

  • Date: Saturday, April 1, 2023
  • Time: 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
  • Platform: Zoom
  • Conference Registration (TBA)

Conference Schedule

    • 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Keynote Address: Melanie Meehan
    • 10:10 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Breakout Sessions 1 
    • 11:10 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Breakout Sessions 2 
    • 12:10 pm – 1:00 p.m. Breakout Sessions 3 
    • 1:00 pm – 2:00 p.m. Keynote Address: Dr. D’Annette Mullen
    • 2:00 p.m. Raffle Drawings immediately following keynote address 

All session links will be included on the conference theme and will be sent out prior to the morning of the event.

Conference Theme

The 7th Annual SUNY Cortland Literacy Department theme is “Celebrate the Power of Social and Emotional Learning: Building Empathy for Literacy Instruction.” As humanity grapples with the global effects of the pandemic, the rise of fascism, and the increasing impacts of climate change, cultural stress has elicited a tremendous toll. As literacy researchers and educators, we are cognizant of the power of literacy practices to impart meaningful, restorative, and empowering socioemotional experiences for students. However, we also remain aware of the impact of colonizing social structures, and how culturally dominant education systems were not designed for the socio-cultural well-being of all students.

Within this year’s theme, we hope to explore how movements advancing socio-emotional learning in literacy education have empowered and strengthened voices. Simultaneously, we recognize that there are limitations implementing socio-emotional curricula that enriches educational experiences for all learners. Literacy educators and researchers must interrogate both assumptions made about socioemotional learning and implementation of socioemotional interventions to avoid reinforcing hegemonic paradigms of socio-emotional literacy instruction that exclude or exploit those who have been historically marginalized. Put simply: if implemented without critical critique, SEL approaches can reinforce the inequitable treatment of our students.  During this conference, we invite presenters and attendees to come together and share how classroom practices, research, or policy implementations impact the socio-emotional literacy learning and development of students, as well as to critique our assumptions about and problematize the implementation of initiatives that fail to serve all students.

For the 7th Annual SUNY Cortland Literacy Department Conference, we will accept proposals in the form of a panel, workshop, presentation, or discussion group (described in greater detail below). Our sessions led by faculty, graduate students, and K-12 teachers will strive to answer the following questions: 

  • What approaches to socio-emotional learning benefit literacy learners? How do these approaches embrace the complexities of literacy teaching and learning, including early literacy learning, disciplinary literacies, digital literacies, critical literacy/criticality, and/or restorative literacies?
  • What literacy paradigms are reinforced by dominant approaches to socio-emotional learning? How can we examine our own assumptions about who benefits from socio-emotional instruction?
  • How do responsive, reflective, and expressive literacy pedagogies impact students? 

Keynote Speakers

Our opening keynote speaker will be Melanie Meehan. Ms. Meehan is an established teacher-scholar in the field of writing education with the established belief that every child can be a writer. She started her career in special education before her current position as the Elementary Writing and Social Studies coordinator for Simsbury Public Schools. Ms. Meehan’s first book, Every Child Can Write, was published in 2019, and her co-authored book The Responsive Writing Teacher was published in 2021. Her most recent book, Answers to Your Biggest Questions About Teaching Elementary Writing, is a pragmatic and flexible approach to designing responsive writing instruction for every student. Additionally, Ms. Meehan writes for the blog, Two Writing Teachers, and co-hosts its companion podcast.

Our closing keynote speaker will be D’Annette Mullen, Ph.D. Dr. Mullen firmly believes that “we are all teachers, learners, and innovators and should enter our respective sites accordingly.” Her scholarship interrogates racial discrepancies in school discipline and the effective implementation of restorative justice principles for all learners. Dr. Mullen’s career in education began as a high school special education teacher before she became the New York City school district liaison for special education. Since then, she has been a school administrator, restorative justice practice facilitator, and restorative curriculum developer. Throughout her doctoral work, Dr. Mullen developed and implemented anti-racism professional developments across educational contexts, including designing and implementing trainings for the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding and serving as site director for the University of Florida’s Akwaaba Freedom School.

Types of Sessions

  • Panel: Presenters knowledgeable about a common topic gather for discussion, often moderated by a question-answer format. Panels will be held for 50 minutes.
  • Workshop: Presenters provide a hands-on experience or demonstration relating to teaching and learning. Audience members may be encouraged to bring their own ideas and materials to “work on” during the workshop. Workshops will be held for 50 minutes.
  • Discussion Group: Presenters prepare a session interacting with audience members for discussion, self-reflection, and exploration of topics. Discussion groups will be held for 50 minutes.
  • Presentation: Presenters provide a presentation of their research and/or experience answering a question and/or solving a problem with little audience participation. Presentations will be held for 20 minutes and grouped in pairs.

Positionality Statement

The SUNY Cortland Literacy Department recognizes that we are not experts in anti-bias anti-racist work, and we are in a continuous state of reflecting and seeking knowledge about power, privilege, and oppression ourselves. We acknowledge the following about our collective: 

  • We are uninvited guests living, learning, and teaching on the land of the Haudenosaunee people.
  • Our collective racial makeup is predominantly white and many of us hold unearned white privilege.
  • Our department faculty is made up predominantly of white women in a field where white women represents roughly 80% of educators in the U.S., even though our students are increasingly racially diverse.

As a literacy education department, we believe we must address and work to dismantle matters of oppression relating to literacy practices in school spaces. Our goal with this conference is to hold space for learning, reflection, and planning for action with respect to anti-bias, anti-racist literacy teaching. In doing so, we strive to centralize the scholarship and experiences of scholars and educators from the historically marginalized group who established and remain deeply engrained in this work. We are confident in the knowledge that when grappling with these specific topics, attendees and speakers have an enormous amount to teach us. We welcome these moments as they help to re-distribute the unearned power based on our collective positionalities and aid in continuing to disrupt our biases. 

Sponsors

  • Cortland Auxiliary Services (SUNY Cortland CAS)
  • SUNY Cortland Literacy Department
  • SUNY Cortland School of Education Dean’s Office