I’ve been waiting to go to the annual NCTE conference since the first time I went when it was held in New York City. Since then, I’ve had two amazing children to love and enjoy, but I’ve been itching to go back! Each year my jealousy grew as I saw pictures and Tweets about all that other educators saw and heard. Last year I tried to go, I really did, but the insane Buffalo snow storm that is now known as “Snowvember” got in the way. Well, this year I finally made it!
To say the conference was amazing is an understatement. (See the pictures below.) I struck up conversations with teachers I’ve only spoken to through Twitter, and I shook hands with authors of my favorite books. I met sources of inspiration like Donalyn Miller and Penny Kittle, and I came home with a suitcase full of books that were mostly FREE!
Yes, I truly enjoyed myself. My co-teacher and I came home with some wonderful ideas for our classes. The most memorable part, however, was the true generosity of the authors that were there. Andrew Smith took the time to write a thoughtful note for a student of mine who was one of his biggest fans. Jason Reynolds signed a book and made a video for a student who now considers himself a reader because of When I Was the Greatest. Kwame Alexander made a video for a student of mine that didn’t believe me when I said I might meet his favorite author. I wish I recorded the expressions on these students’ faces when they saw the signed books and videos. They couldn’t express their gratitude enough.
I will now do whatever it takes to get to the NCTE conference–and ALAN–each year. I am forever grateful to the educators and authors for all that I learned, and all that I brought home with me. My students may not have been there with me, but they got, and will continue to get, a lot out of it.