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!