As I sit here this morning in my hotel room at the Gaylord, waiting to pick up this year’s biggest wish list, a.k.a. the NCTE Convention Program, I’m reflecting on the fact that professional development opportunities such as this have evolved so much for me over the years.
I used to look forward to find gem that I could take away and use the very next day in my classroom. Now I look forward to gleaning ideas that will endure… ideas that I can grow into my own for my own students in ways that will most benefit them. It used to be more about procuring that coveted autographed copy of the latest children’s book. -Forget about actually having any kind of a conversation with an author! I was way too shy to think that I could muster up the courage or any intelligible words at all. Now it’s more about reflecting on the beauty of authors’ prose and thinking about the process to make that literary gift. And yes, if I meet an author, I now tell them how very much their work has meant to me and the children whose lives it’s touched. I ask them questions I’m curious about and am able to see them more for the human they are, rather than the rockstar image of them that, ok, is still in my head. (I mean, c’mon, aren’t we all a little star struck with our heroes at times?)
While it’s wonderful to go home with a few new ARCs in my suitcase to read and share with colleagues and students, it’s no longer about getting a haul of free stuff from the exhibitors that will surely throw my back out before I have a chance to unpack it back home. It’s about being particular in my choices and thinking intentionally about my purpose picking up what I do.
We’ve all suffered from “conference high…” It’s hard not to. As we embark on this next leg of our professional journey this week in our nation’s capital, I encourage all my NCTE colleagues to be present, truly present, in the moments we are about to experience. Take time to say hello to strangers rather than worrying they will get a seat closer to the front than you. Take time to have conversations with new people and share your story with them. Take time to reflect upon the new thinking that you will have after these amazing sessions. Take time to think about how this experience will impact your instruction. Take time to lift your practice and not just lift ideas.
Have a great week, everyone! I hope to connect with old friends and make lots of new ones! 😊