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English Journal Columns and Column Editors - Previous Revision

Challenging Texts
Editor: P. L. Thomas

Franz Kafka proclaimed that a “book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us.” The authors and texts we bring into our classrooms and the acts of literacy that students perform about and because of those texts are essential aspects of creating classrooms where students become critical readers and critical writers. This column will explore the authors and texts we choose that confront the world and the worldviews of students. We also explore various theoretical approaches to literature that challenge and energize students and teachers.

Contributors should explore and share their classroom practices that address questions such as, What authors and texts confront the world and students’ assumptions? What texts expand students’ perceptions of and assumptions about genre? What texts confront both big ideas and the art and craft of writing? How does critical pedagogy look in literature classrooms? What literary theories do you find most generative?

Submit an electronic Word file attached to your email to the column editor, P. L. Thomas, at Contributors are encouraged to query the column editor and share drafts of column ideas as part of the submission process.

Mentoring Matters
Editor: Thomas M. McCann

Some critics use the disturbing phrase “eating their young” to refer to the way some school leaders and veteran teachers treat new teachers. The image refers to the regrettable practice of allowing the newcomer to endure the least desirable conditions in a school or department. In contrast, caring veteran teachers will be sensitive to the need to foster growth and to promote a sense of self-efficacy in new colleagues. The development of any teacher is not complete after departure from a teacher preparation program. Professional growth continues for years, and supportive colleagues can play a significant role in influencing the development, satisfaction, and retention of teachers in the early stages of their careers. This column invites contributors to offer practicing teachers, schools, and teacher preparation programs their insights about how to mentor and support early-career English teachers, including reports from early-career teachers about their positive mentoring experiences. We especially encourage specific suggestions for practices that will help veteran teachers to support newer colleagues in developing positive relationships with students, contending with pressures to conform to test-driven curricula, handling an enormous workload, and forming collaborative relationships with supervisors, colleagues, and parents.

We invite column contributions of 500–1,500 words addressing themes about mentoring and supporting early-career teachers. Send inquiries, ideas, and submission to Thomas M. McCann at

Off the Shelves
Editor: Mark Letcher

We are living in a new golden age of young adult literature. Edgy and engaging titles by authors both emerging and established have been pushing the field of young adult literature (YAL) to places we’ve never seen before. Teen readers are seeing more innovative formats and genre-blending in their reading, are exposed to authors from around the world, and are blurring the lines between previously established “teen” and “adult” fiction.

There may be no better time to celebrate and promote the diversity, characters, issues, and pure literary craftsmanship that YAL offers its audience, and our hope is that you will help us contribute to the conversation.

This column will explore a wide range of topics related to literature written for and/or read by young adults, with a strong emphasis on recently published works. We particularly welcome the voices and experiences of secondary teachers, for whom YAL provides vital classroom reading, suggestions for eager and reluctant students, and engaging personal reading material. Submissions of 500–1,500 words, inquiries, and suggestions for future column topics should be directed to Mark Letcher at

Editor: Anne McCrary Sullivan

In her poem “Valentine for Ernest Mann,” Naomi Shihab Nye reminds us that “poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes, / they are sleeping.” Look inside your shoes, your desk drawers and kitchen cabinets, the hallways of your school, the grocery stores and garbage dumps of your community. “Find” some poems and send them to EJ. Choose those that seem a fit, either explicitly or implicitly, with announced themes of upcoming EJ issues. We are looking for well-crafted original poems in any style, serious or humorous, written by teachers, students, or those who love them. We do not consider previously published poems or simultaneous submissions.

Send by email attachment, for blind review, up to five poems with only phone number and initials on the page. In your email message, include brief biographical information. Poets whose work is published will receive two copies of the issue in which their work appears. Send submissions to Send correspondence to Anne McCrary Sullivan at

Professional Writing in the English  Classroom
Editors: Jonathan Bush and Leah Zuidema

Professional writing in the English classroom is rich with possibilities. Students can learn to attend carefully to audience, purpose, and situation through all genres of writing, but these rhetorical concerns are especially relevant in professional writing contexts. This column focuses on the teaching of professional writing—writing that solves day-to-day problems, accomplishes work, and enables changes in organizations and communities. Professional writing instruction involves much more than teaching memos, proposals, or résumés; it can also be a way to teach for engaged, ethical citizenship. It encompasses ideas consistent with best practices in our discipline—allowing students to think creatively and critically within complex rhetorical situations. It values multiple genres, textual conventions, and visual design. Through professional writing, students can address real issues (big or small) and work to effect change by writing to authentic audiences.

Professional writing can be combined with other, more traditional studies of writing, literature, and language. This column helps readers who seek to teach professional writing concepts and to expand their teaching to include new projects and genres. We welcome contributions from those who teach professional writing as well as those who see echoes of professional writing concepts in their other work with writing, literature, and language.

Please send inquiries, submissions of 500–1,500 words, or suggestions for future column topics to Jonathan Bush at or Leah Zuidema at

Research for the Classroom
Editor: Julie Gorlewski

Research provides a lens through which teachers can better understand our pedagogical successes and failures. Research illuminates the social and political contexts of education, enhancing our appreciation of students, their families, and the communities we serve. The principles of research offer a foundation for reflective practice.

Classrooms are laboratories for teaching and learning. In this era of accountability, it is important for teachers to apply research to practice.We must be collaborators in the process of deciding what works, not merely consumers of products deemed “research-based.” In the spirit of a critical theoretical approach, this column will seek both to clarify and to problematize research-based practices.

Submissions for this column might include an informal mini-study or a story about an attempt—successful or not—to conduct classroom research. Contributors should focus on a classroom application of professional scholarship by considering these questions: What worked (and didn’t work) in my classroom? Why? How do I know? Also welcome are short reviews of recently published books that contributors believe can enhance teachers’ classroom research practices. Submissions should be 1,000–2,000 words.

Authors, especially new contributors, are encouraged to submit ideas for columns. Send inquiries or submissions to

Success with ELLs
Editor: Margo DelliCarpini

English educators face increasing linguistic diversity in their classrooms. In fact, enrollment of English language learners (ELLs) in the nation’s public schools between the years 1990 and 2000 grew by 105 percent, compared to a 12 percent over­all growth rate among the general school population. ELLs enter our classrooms with a variety of prior school experiences, cultural expectations, and literacy experiences. Making the English language arts curriculum accessible to ELLs can pose unique challenges. However, when teachers implement strate­gies that target the needs of ELLs, all students can benefit.

This column will be a place where classroom teachers can find helpful ideas for teaching ELLs. Please submit manu­scripts regarding challenges ELLs encounter in mainstream English classes and how you have developed innovative strategies to address their needs while enhancing the learning environment for all learners. Please share materials and practices that you have found to be especially effective for your ELLs, reports of successful collaborative instruction, motivational strategies that you use, and ways you connect content to ELLs’ lives. Secondary-­level English teachers are especially encouraged to submit their ideas. New authors who have ideas for columns that need development are encouraged to contact the editor. Send ideas or complete submissions of 500–1,500 words to Margo DelliCarpini at

Teaching Young Adult Literature
Editor: Mike Roberts

As English teachers, we are constantly faced with the challenge of teaching literature that is both thought-provoking and entertaining. With today’s YA literature better than ever, now
is the time to help students discover the joy—and sometimes the pain—that comes with reading a great book. YA literature can provide students with a chance to engage in reading that is meaningful, challenging, and enjoyable. Plus, YA literature can inspire energized discussions about topics students feel passionate about.

This column will explore teaching ideas and strategies for some of today’s newest and most popular young adult literature. This is not a column that reviews literature; it describes effective ways of teaching young adult literature. We encourage submissions of 1,800–2,500 words that focus on effective ways of incorporating YA literature into the curriculum.

Send inquiries, ideas, and submissions to Mike Roberts at

For general EJ Submission Guidelines, click here.


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