From the English Department at YCSC

Volume 3, Issue #1

My apologies that our first issue of the school year is only now arriving. Too many moving parts have intervened but, alas, Volume 3, Issue #1 is finally here. And what will you find? A few teachers talk about their experiences attending NCTE 2020, a virtual conference held in November. Can this department grow anymore? Yes, it can with the addition of Robert Montes. The late poet Robert Hayden shares a memory of his father. And, lastly, a short video to bring in a little holiday cheer.

Whether you plan to read a book, binge watch your favorite streaming show, or try out a new recipe, may you all have a restful holiday break.

Feedback, suggestions, comments, questions, and anything in between are always welcome. You can reach me at

Happy holidays to you and your loved ones!

Mario Rosado

News & Updates

Confluencia: NCTE 2020 Virtual Convention

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) meets annually for teachers to network and share classroom resources, best practices, and latest pedagogical research. This year's theme was iConfluencia! the songs of ourselves, or, to put it differently, the harmony of coming together. Even though the conference was held virtually, that didn't stop some of us from attending. Here's what some of our YCSC teachers had to say about NCTE 2020.

Sir Bailey

What did you think of the conference? NCTE was an incredibly inspiring experience. Major jewels for me include honoring the writers we likely are as English educators, loyalty to greater mindfulness regarding representation and erasure of cultures of our students and self, and commitment to learning as personal, joyful, and attractive.

What is a panel you attended? A session centered on American Indian Literature reminded me that in navigating the confluence between cultures of people with "black" and "brown", I, like many others, represent both. Muskogee, not only a place my parents' parents were raised, is also a language and nation worthy of recognition in America' s literature collections. We with our students may need to be the authors. This session had me taking screenshot after screenshot of richly informative slides regarding university, high-school, and elementary erasure and/misrepresentation of Indigenous American culture and history.

What else can you share about NCTE 2020? Between the hilarious and heart-felt appreciation of teacher shared by Trevor Noah and a session that presented African-American authors sharing secrets of their professional practice, I was inspired to see students, co-workers, myself, and the communities we impact from the perspective of dreams for our best more often that from the perspective of nightmares of our worst. The variation of techniques for establishing a productive writing practice provides another reminder that we may learn from the practice of others yet our path will always be our own.

Joey Reyes

Talk about one of the panels you attended. ERWC presented a workshop called Fostering Student Engagement in High School English Classrooms Through Student-Centered Pedagogy. This workshop was nice in that it presented a theoretical framework on student learning practices and behaviors. Some of what was discussed revolved around relevant materials (texts, etc.), student choice in education, building on students strengths as well as their goal setting and ability to self-assess.

The engagement types discussed in the workshop were framed in the distance learning experience our students are experiencing. Behavioral Engagement is basically what students do, such as paying attention to details, study, complete their classwork. Cognitive engagement refers to students learning strategies and how they think about learning. Emotional Engagement is next, this is about student connections to learning; are they invested in their learning experience as well as how learning can even be an anxiety management strategy. Finally comes Agentic engagement. This asks teachers to seek constructive contributions to the learning community from students.

What else about NCTE 2020? In addition to the workshops, moments that were inspiring and rejuvenating were keynote speakers' Joy Haro's presentation about living Native American poets and the keynote speaker conversation between Jeff Chang and Patrisse Khan-Cullers. Joy Haro is the first Native American Poet Laureate. Go read her poems (right now!) and she is currently building a Living Native American poet database in the library of congress (check it out). Jeff Chang is author of Can't Stop Won't Stop, an amazing history of hip-hop that blends economics, politics, and race. There is not much I can say about Patrisse Khan-Cullers except that she is an amazing human being. Just thinking about her name brings me hope and peace of mind.

Elvira Rios

What did you think of the conference? Overall the experience was energizing. It was nice to be in an environment with other English teachers and to learn about and share our experiences.

What is one panel you attended? I attended the "Bridging Fiction and Contemporary Topics Through YAL" panel. Presenters discussed ways to incorporate nonfiction and YAL (Young Adult Literature) in the ELA classroom to allow students to be more active and critical in their communities and the world. The panelists discussed ways in which to use YA fiction texts with related topics like Internment and Islamophobia, for example. They also shared how they guided students to interact with different texts and with one another. Lessons and graphics organizers were also shared by the panelists, which I found was extra helpful.

What is a key takeaway from NCTE 2020? A Key Note conversation between Jeff Chang (Can't Stop, Won't Stop) and Patrice Khan-Cullers (BLMLA) was amazing. This was mostly about the role of educators as social justice workers and the importance of self-care in a pandemic era. As an activist and educator she reminds said of herself as a teacher speaking to students, "I am not here just to teach you, we are here to teach each other."

Welcome to the English Department Robert Montes

A new teacher has joined the ranks. Robert Montes joined YCSC in September and provides English courses for students at LA CAUSA YouthBuild in East LA. He comes with years of experience and is a strong advocate for youth voice. We couldn't be more happier to have him on board. When this pandemic finally takes a permanent seat in the dugout, we will all get to meet him in person. Robert Montes--welcome to the team!

Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden

Robert Hayden is an essential poet in the literary canon. Much of his writings come from his study on the intersectionalities of African and American histories, though some also rely on personal experience. One such poem is "Those Winter Sundays," published in 1962. The speaker observes in astute detail the movements of his father as he prepares the house to brave another winter day, an observation rendered in memory and admiration. How will you spend the remaining Sundays of December?

Sundays too my father got up early

and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,

then with cracked hands that ached

from labor in the weekday weather made

banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.

When the rooms were warm, he’d call,

and slowly I would rise and dress,

fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,

who had driven out the cold

and polished my good shoes as well.

What did I know, what did I know

of love’s austere and lonely offices?

Christmas Shopping | Funny Clip | Classic Mr Bean


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YouthBuild Charter School of CA

YouthBuild Charter School of CA (YCSC) is a free project-based charter school, rooted in social justice, for students between 16 and 24 years of age. Campuses are located throughout Los Angeles, including Inland Empire, San Diego, and Fresno. For more information, please see below.