Monthly Archives: November 2009

Ok. That worked.

Whew! I thought blog on the run was done for. I’m having some odd connectivity issues in this hotel, even though I’m only using the 3G. Hmmm. Could be the lovely ‘inside room’ we were given–I thought those only existed on cruise ships. I was wrong.

Anyway, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–the key to travel blogging is travelling alone. I love my husband, and as such, refuse to spend my time away with him writing my most random thoughts–though I so love writing said thoughts. And as it took me the entire duration of his shower to write these two short paragraphs, I’ll be breaking my own rule again tomorrow. Unless he does not mind me writing as he drives the 180 miles back home. But I think he just might. I sure would.



My post from Friday disappeared, after spending lots of time typing it with my thumbs! And worse, I have no idea what I wrote! This is now a test post; if it does not work this time, I’m finding a new iPhone blogging app.

Reflections from a First Time NCTE Convention Attendee

Well, the first thing I learned was that blogging while AT an actual convention is not very likely.  There simply was not any time, and any spare minutes I had I spent in the exhibition hall and/or standing in line for the restroom (anyone reading this, do not despair, it was not that the lines were so very long, it was that I was so very busy).  But I learned lots of other things, too…things about teaching, teachers, the way conventions work…all kinds of great things that I can’t even make up categories for.  So I will revert to my favorite way to keep something short and sweet…the list.

What I Learned At the NCTE Convention…

1.  I am a shitty teacher.  Well, to be fair, I started to think this probably my second day teaching (seven years ago), but I’m sure of it now.

2.  I can be a better teacher.

3.  I WANT to be a better teacher (that’s a big one).

4.  I now understand why people go to church.  Not that I’m equating the NCTE convention to church, and no, Nancy Atwell is NOT my god.  Nor is Kylene Beers (though Chris Tovani is up there, as is Junot Diaz, oddly…) BUT–people go to church to feel like there is hope in the world.  To be refreshed.  Inspired.  That is what this convention did for me.

5.  There is no way I can organize all that I learned in any format, not for administration to approve, and especially not for this blog, though I really did want to provide some sort of guidance for English teachers thinking of going in years to come.  BUT–the good news is–I can answer all of your questions in one simple sentence–If you are thinking about going for the first time–DO IT!  It exceeded my expectations in so many ways, and was worth all of the time and money it took to get there, and then some.

6.  Aside from all of the touchy-feely crap, I also learned to take really comfortable shoes and a VERY comfortable large bag…or bagS.  Ok, to be perfectly honest, for the very first time in my life, I wished I was the type of person who would be caught dead rolling around one of those wheel-y suitcases when not even in an airport.  To be even more perfectly honest, when I go next year (and I’m going next year), I WILL be taking such a wheel-y suitcase.  Empty, on the plane, to fill up with books.  I spent $8 on books.  That is EIGHT.  No I did not type that incorrectly.  $5 for a hardcover I wanted signed, and $3 for another I thought I was going to get signed (but the line was too long).  I came home with somewhere in the area of 70 books, all young adult, all for my students.  More than half of them are galley copies, which to me is even better, because my kids will get to read the next batch of up-and-coming books before they even, well, ‘come up’.  I could not be more excited about this.

7.  Standing in line is a good thing.  I stood in line for several book signings, and learned a lot just from the people around me.  It is truly great to be surrounded by so many smart, enthusiastic, yet down-to-earth people.  Sorry…I said I was done with touchy-feely.  I’ll stop now.

This is me stopping.

Earlier in the week–via facebook post–I made a comparison between the NCTE convention and Disney World, stating that the former is BETTER than the latter.  Well guess what folks…next year’s convention is in ORLANDO!

NCTE Convention, Philadelphia–Day Two

The first thing I did on my second day here was kiss Doug goodbye for the day. He was spending the day several blocks away at the National Writing Project portion of the conference. And I was genuinely sad to see him go and to know I was to be on my own for the whole day. That feeling lasted…about four minutes. I suddenly realized ‘I was to be on my own for the whole day!’ I could go and do whatever I wanted, and I had a color coded schedule to follow–or not follow, if I chose. What could be better?

The answer to that question–the actual day was better than I could have ever hoped. I found that, with my afore mentioned color coded schedule, I could go from workshop to workshop as I pleased if for any reason I didn’t like the workshop I was in. I strongly suggest the color coded schedule to future conference attendees.

And…here is where I give up typing this on my phone at a convention. There is just too much going on, and Doug just texted me, which caused the last three paragraphs I typed to not save (I’ve decided to let him live…for now) I’ll be breaking my own rule again later, when I return to my precious computer (which I miss very much!)

Journeys of Thought

The following was written in a session titled ‘Journeys of Thought’, an NCTE convention workshop designed to teach teachers how to encourage students to write in order to discover. The first sentence of each section was the given ‘prompt’.

I wonder why I’ve never lived in a big city. I mean, I realize that I often have panic attacks in large crowds, but I imagine that has to go away eventually. There is so much to do in even a smaller large city like Philadelphia–I could spend days just eating at the Reading Terminal Market and not get bored–nevermind all of the great things to buy there to cook, and beyond that, all of the restaurants.

This makes me realize that there still is a part of me that is not afraid to try scary things. I used to be unafraid girl, and I thought I missed that girl–I’d assumed she died–but she’s still there, just buried. I’m not saying I’m going to pick up and move anywhere–and certainly not to Philadelphia.

NCTE Convention, Philadelphia–Day One

Arriving anywhere for the first time is always a different experience; different, at least, from what you originally anticipated. For example, upon arriving in Philadelphia, I did not expect to have a sudden panic attack and flee from a quaint little pub while a hostess tried to seat us. Nope, didn’t see that coming.

But that was, fortunately, simply the low point in what ended up being a really fantastic day. We had lunch at a little trying-to-be-French cafe, and the quiche was amazing. After checking into our room–which is on the 15th floor and therefore eye level with the top of city hall–we headed off to the opening night of the convention.

First we went to the middle level get together to hear Chris Tovani speak. We were quite inspired, and it is not hard to imagine that others were, too. She expressed the mundane, everyday complaints that all teachers have (the kids don’t care so why should I…that kind of thing) but then offered hope that we can change our beliefs and thar, even better, in doing so, change the climate of our classrooms. It was a fantastic kick-off to the convention.

After an all to brief social (with a cash bar and no cash in our pockets–you’ve never seen me think or move so quickly to find an ATM in an unfamiliar city!) we went to see Junot Diaz speak. I would sprain my thumbs in attempting to get all of the amazing ideas he put forth whilst typing on a phone; simply put, I could have listened to him talk all night–even though I had long since finished my only glass of wine.

We then took Missie’s advice and went to El Vez for dinner. It was loud and crowded and we had to wait a good half hour to be seated (with reservations) but it was totally worth it. We ordered one thing from every section of the menu (two each from the, ahem, drink section), gorged ourselves, and rolled home.

Nerd Trip–The Sequel

Well, I said I’d post from the National Book Festival, but I didn’t stop doing things long enough to do so.  I think the key to ‘Blogging on the Run’ is traveling ALONE.  Not that I didn’t have fun going away with my husband–I just didn’t have large amounts of time to sit and iPhone blog, as he would have been a bit annoyed sitting across a table from me in such a situation.  But we’re going to the NCTE Annual Convention tomorrow through Sunday, and I’m imagining there will be husband-free time, as we are both going our own ways for most of the weekend.  So I am promising myself here and now that I will write while I’m away.  Wish me luck.