April Conference 2024
We share our classrooms with a generation of students who are hyperaware of the global impact of human activity on the environment. As Elizabeth Kolbert writes of our current ecological crisis in The Sixth Extinction: “No creature has ever altered life on the planet in this way before.” Our students are not alone in feeling overwhelmed by a news cycle of continual climate disasters. The rate and severity of these events can bring on a feeling of numbness and resignation rather than catalyzing responsive resilience in the classroom. How can we refocus the conversation from crisis to education and adaptation?
The 2024 IWT April Conference will offer a deep dive into layered and often contradictory pedagogies about the natural world. We will draw on IWT writing-based teaching practices to explore a wide range of written, audio, visual, and hybrid texts—from manifest destiny to global climate strikes—that are creating a new ecology of education. We will explore classroom models inspired by natural ecosystems, taking the paradigmatic example of the underground “mycorrhizal network,” which allows individual plants to share water, nitrogen, carbon, and minerals from their environments.
The April Conference is a day of shared writing and reflection, with practical tools to help educators create classroom environments that embrace contradiction, protect difficult conversations, and teach our students and ourselves new ways to respond, learn, and walk into the future together.