I am all FIRED UP for Philly! The truth is, I just love NCTE. It’s simply a home-run experience every time I attend the annual conference and I always leave a better teacher as a result of having made the trip.
Why? The people. It’s that simple.
NCTE provides me a chance to be in the same room with some of the best minds in the world of English Language Arts. I mean where else can you go to hear Carol Jago, Kylene Beers, Jim Burke, and on and on and on and on? (To even start a list like this is to risk leaving people off of it but trust me on this one — the BEST and BIGGEST and MOST BOLD thinkers in our field will be in the City of Brotherly Love determined to share some of their brotherly/sisterly love with everyone else. It smokes!)
A search of this year’s program is tortuous though. I mean I want to go see this, but then I want to go see that and then I am scheduled to be over here but I really want to go over there as well… and on and on and on.
(A little shout out to Carol Jago for that one, too — as the prez, I guess she gets to get mentioned twice in this post — and her “team” of course… can’t forget them. So many people work so hard for so long to put this event on that I gotta give the unsung heroes need a shout out, too!)
BTW, have you ever seen more rockin’ authors made so accessible to dweebs like me gathered in one place? Look, when it comes to writers, let’s be honest… I am a bit of a groupie. Jeff Kinney, Sharon Flake, Junot Diaz, Gordon Korman, Tracey Kidder, Laurie Halse Anderson, Sharon Draper, Patrick Carmen… I could type for hours!
And they all sign books in the Exhibit Hall. Where else can you find that?
Ah, the Exhibit Hall. (Deep breath!) Can I tell you how much I love that part of the conference? I get to shop and browse and dream and think and weigh and consider — and get free stuff! (Yep, just work it, people… that’s how it’s done… work it!) I swear, the NCTE Exhibit Hall is like an amusement park ride for English teachers and I wish we all got to take it more than once a year.
Of course, at the end of the day it’s the other “real teachers” like me that I get to meet from across the country that makes it the most special. The workshops may fill my brain but chillin’ with English teachers fills my soul. Attending NCTE is a chance to listen and learn and exchange thoughts, ideas, gripes and possible solutions with so many other “front line” educators that it never fails to create in me a sense of real professional camaraderie. (And how rare is that?) NCTE is a feast for the human teaching spirit and unfortunately, I believe that our profession is, in a way, suferring from a crisis of morale. But those who attend NCTE get that shot of teacher juice which energizes, refreshes and reinvigorates them — and it just can’t be bottled or obtained in any other way.
You wanna know how I always feel when I leave NCTE. This kinda decent writer I once ran across probably says it best:
Once more unto the breach dear friends, once more!
NCTE reminds me why I love this job. It rejuvenates my batteries and inevitably, I return from the conference just thrilled by the idea of returning to my classroom.
Get there if you can or try to link in via social networking, their website, their twitter hashtag, the blogs, whatever.
It’s an important event for the profession — and for our communal spirit.
NCTE has got the WOW factor… and I am so FIRED UP!
See ya in Philly.