nwp annual meeting & ncte annual convention ’12 in las vegas: a roundup of reflections

This year’s convention for the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE) was held in Las Vegas. Below is a roundup of some blog posts from educators who attended the conference. I’ll add more as I run across them.

First, Bookhouse Boy15 shares part of his experience of meeting authors, collecting books, and connecting with colleagues … (bookhouse youtube channel here)

Jillian Heise shares her appreciation for being able to connect with colleagues who she has known through Twitter …

“I’m exhausted and exhilarated and rejuvenated and ready to go again next year. Tuesday was a sad day as I had to say goodbye to friends I’d spend the whole six days with – it was a bit like summer camp ending, but I know I get to talk to them on twitter all the time and just because we again scattered across the country, I know we’re all still supporting each other every day.”

Anne Marie Corgill shares the why, the what, and the how the conference matters to her…

“…this conference has caused me to think, rethink, and revise my practice. I’m reminded of how critical it is for us to think for ourselves as educators and be willing to revise that thinking.”

Cathy, a teacher in Ohio, writes about her winnings, the nuggets she wants to keep thinking about, and books she is planning to read next…

“Always one of the best things about NCTE’s convention is the conversations with other educators. Opportunities to listen to speakers share their latest thinking, chat with colleagues, and discuss education in +140 characters with Twitter educators who always push my thinking. Somehow I never manage to meet everyone I hope to meet, but this year I did get to meet Alyson Beecher (@alybee930), Kristin Ziemke (@1stgradethinks), and Amy (@amylvpoemfarm). How fun to finally make connections with educators I’ve been learning from for such a long time.”

Chad Sansing connects Sir Ken Robinson’s keynote with the standards conversations educators are engaged in around the country …

“This year at #ncte12, we listened to the chipper and charming Sir Ken deliver “The Element.” We laughed; we applauded. Our challenge now is to examine sincerely our own readiness to co-create, physically build, and work in a passion-driven classroom – a classroom governed by students’ needs, not ours. A classroom driven by authentic work, not standardized testing. A classroom dedicated equally to all the people in it – and to their mutual and inviolate agency and authority – , not to the test results that come out of it.”

Brenda Krupp writes …

“Sometimes when you are at a conference like NCTE you just don’t know what kind of swag you are going to come home with. Will it be five new strategies I can use to improve my teaching of reading? (Yes!) Will I have found new technology to enhance the publication of student writing? (Yes!) Will I have the status quo challenged? (Yes!) I came home challenged to really look at what I am asking my students to do and what I spend my time doing with them. Am I helping them to find creativity or compliance? Am I helping them do something with their imagination or presenting a narrow curriculum with limited chances to journey down different paths that differ from the text–book-prescribed road? Am I helping children find their “element” – what they love and are good at and then helping them pursue that passionately?”

Mike Rose, as he so often does, writes with dignity and curiosity and humanity. This time he writes about a cab driver he met during the convention …

“I thought about that short ride off and on all the next day: Both hands on the wheel, the slight turn of her head, the unfolding, semantically and syntactically elaborated conversation about making a living in Las Vegas. I assumed my driver was new to the country, that her English was pretty limited. But as is always the case when people feel just a little more comfortable, so much can open up.”

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Franki Sibberson has collected many more reflections. She writes:

“NCTE’s annual convention is the time that we connect in person with all those people we learn with throughout the year. We continue conversations we’ve been having over Twitter and we start new ones. We meet old friends for the first time and we make new friends who we immediately follow on Twitter. It is a time to connect and reconnect, a time to refocus our conversations.”

Troy Hicks, my colleague and friend and fellow writing group member, writes a thoughtful post on mentorship being the theme he takes away from the time in Las Vegas this year.

“As I do each year, I head back to campus to work with pre-service teachers, fresh with ideas, knowing that all of these mentors and mentees, colleagues and friends will come with me. I try to describe the power of these professional networks to my students, but even in writing this post I know how futile a task this really is. Handshakes, hugs, and smiles are the best way to see what I mean, and these are way to hard to capture writing, or even in pictures, as these are fleeting moments.”

Tanya B. writes about the National Writing Project Annual Meeting experience she had in Las Vegas. I’m particularly thankful for this post, because Tanya had such kind words for me when she introduced me and Jeff and Michael to our colleagues for the NWP keynote. She includes her gracious and generous introductions in this post. Thank you, Tanya, not only for your kind words but for everything you have done for me and for everything you do for the NWP network.

“What I really want to say thank you for today, though, is the amazing National Writing Project Network. As has been the case for the last eight years, I spent the week before Thanksgiving talking, working, and learning with some of the best writing teachers in the nation. As has been the case for the last eight years, I was touched, moved, inspired, and impressed with the work that teachers in our network do and by the way that together we continue to move the conversation about teaching and learning forward.”