Our ‘Disney Trip’ needs quotes around it because really it wasn’t a Disney Trip, it was a convention trip that happened to be in Disney World. The fact that it was one of our best trips to date shouldn’t be surprising—after all, I loved last year’s convention so much. But this year the convention did not shine, and not (only) because it paled in comparison to the location.
The NCTE convention is a great experience. I feel I learned a lot about teaching English last year. As last year was my first trip, I also learned a lot about how to attend such a convention. None of those lessons helped me this year, however, as putting the convention in Disney World changed a great many things.
The main issue with the convention was that it was at two resorts—Coronado Springs and the Yacht and Beach Club. No big deal, right?
Well, it wouldn’t be in the real world where there are sidewalks and street signs and things are close together. Disney is NOT a pedestrian-friendly area. It was not possible to walk between resorts, so convention go-ers were forced to stand in insanely long lines for shuttles, typically missing at least one session each time one changed locations. This made for some pretty tricky planning, and some pretty frustrating moments.
The resorts are also not set up to handle the meal-time requirements of conventioneers as well as vacationers. Lunch was simply not an option, and by day two I was walking around with a $12 bag of beef jerky in my backpack to keep my blood sugar up (we know from the Europe trip how I get when I’m hungry!)
All in all it wasn’t the best convention experience, but it wasn’t the worst either. The pre-convention session with Teri Lesesne was great, and I got a lot out of one session on Reinventing the Teaching of Essay Writing (I fully realize how boring that sounds to any non-teachers, but trust me, it was great!) Additionally, I discovered a way to teach research in an extremely authentic way that fits in with my fiction writing unit. I am very excited about the changes I will be making in my own classroom based on the convention experience…I just wish it had been easier to get to more sessions in a reasonable amount of time.
To use my favorite phrase…to be fair, this was an amazing trip. If one has to go to a convention–nay, if one gets to go to a convention–better that convention be in sunny Florida than anywhere else I can think of. For example, here’s where I sat, outside of the convention center, looking through the phone book sized program:
But now that the boring stuff is over, I must get on to writing my next post, which I shall title something like ‘Why I Now Love Disney World’.