This guest post is contributed by Brenna Clarke Gray (Douglas College)
In 2010, I defended my PhD at the University of New Brunswick and immediately took a job in the Department of English at Douglas College in Metro Vancouver. I didn’t really know what I was getting into, but I knew I loved teaching and I knew I had just been offered a full-time job. There wasn’t much else to consider, really.
Over the last seven years, I have adjusted to the tempo of full-time college teaching and have found a way to keep my research agenda alive, too. And through all of that time, ACCUTE has been an increasingly significant part of my scholarly life, and I now serve on the Board where I have the opportunity to talk a lot about the needs of college faculty in English.
Here are a few reasons why I think ACCUTE membership is hugely beneficial to college teachers.
- ACCUTE is generalist. As college teachers, most of us are generalists (or at least we play one in the classroom), and many of us are likely to be asked to cover a text or period that we didn’t necessarily do our graduate work in. Because of the broad scope of the ACCUTE membership, attending the conference and keeping up with English Studies in Canada (the journal subscription included with your ACCUTE membership fee) helps me stay aware of what’s going on in other areas of our discipline – and I always know who to email when I have a burning class prep question.
- ACCUTE is professional concerns and pedagogy. My favourite ACCUTE panels are those that deal with the in-the-trenches work of teaching literature. In these conversations, sharing the experiences across college and university teaching allows for true best practices to emerge. I have learned a lot and shared a lot in the last seven years. Looking ahead to 2018, there are already panels in development on hot classroom issues like digital devices and trigger warnings, as well as annual offerings targeting contract faculty and specific issues facing the future of teaching English at the post-secondary level.
- ACCUTE is advocacy. It is worth remembering that ACCUTE is the only national organization speaking for the discipline of English studies and for the people who teach it. They’re our voice at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. They keep an eye on things like the treatment of contract instructors, job seekers, striking faculty, and graduate students. And every year, ACCUTE engages more directly with college issues; in fact, ACCUTE’s Board of Directors now mandates representation from the college sector.
- ACCUTE is community. Maybe you’re the only person who does what you do at your institution, and that gets lonely. Maybe you’ve stepped away from research for a little while and you’re looking for a way to get back in. Or maybe you just want to hear some new ideas to refresh and energize your teaching. From the ACCUTE blog and newsletter to the annual conference at Congress, ACCUTE will put you in touch with your scholarly community, no matter what aspect of it you’re looking for.
ACCUTE has never been more responsive to the needs of college faculty than it is right now. Consider joining ACCUTE today to keep the college voice strong within Canada’s only national organization for post-secondary English teachers.