Learning & Connecting at NCTE

Attending the NCTE Annual Convention has become one of my favorite November rituals.  I’m amazed at how I declare each year’s convention “the best one I’ve ever attended!”  It was the first time I’ve attended Not only did I learn from the presenters, but I got lots of ideas and things I can use in my consulting work.
I’ll devote a couple of my December posts to specific sessions I attended at NCTE. Until then, here are a few quotes I jotted down from authors and literacy leaders:
  • “We want everybody to find themselves in a poem.” –Georgia Heard
  • “There’s so much more to share about a child’s learning than just numbers.” –Katie Keier
  • “Engagement isn’t just a thing, it’s the only thing. You can’t teach if no one is listening to you.”  –Chris Lehman
  • “Rhyme, rhythm, and repetition makes your teaching stick.” –Marjorie Martinelli
  • “Visuals are the way to give kids access points into your instruction.” –Kristi Mraz
  • “Poets often write themselves into realizations.” –Tom Romano
  • “If you teach in a school where all books are celebrated, bigger kids won’t be ashamed to pick up picture books.” –Beth Shaum
  • “Poetry can help students find their own voice, discover what’s in their heart, and write their own history.” –Joyce Sidman
  • “The truth serves as its own element — readers react to both the story and the truth of it as they read.” –Audrey Vernick
One of the best things about NCTE is meeting educators from all over the globe and reconnecting with former colleagues and classmates.  Some of the connections and re-connections I made in Boston:
  • I broke bread with Tara Smith and Linda Baie twice.  We even landed up attending some of the same sessions, which was an unexpected treat.
  • I ran into Stephanie Jones, one of my literacy professors from TC (who is now at the Univ. of Georgia) who was the person who inspired me to start a blog years ago.
  • I received writing advice from two people whose opinions I greatly respect. First, I had breakfast with my editor, Bill Varner, who gave me some new insights.  Second, I walked and talked with Kate Messner who got me to re-think about the way I talk about the picture book manuscript on which I’m working.
  • I happened to sit next to JoEllen McCarthy and Stella Villalba, who I know from the Twitterverse and blogosphere, respectively. By chance, I squeezed in-between them at an informative roundtable session, which enabled me to chat with both of them in real time.
  • I spoke with Chris Lehman, Kate Roberts, and Maggie Beattie Roberts right before their session on close reading, which was JAM PACKED. I sat on the floor, which (as I told Kate and Maggie later in the the afternoon) I won’t do for just anybody since I have neck/back problems. That being said, hearing them speak together was well worth sitting on the floor for 75 minutes!
  • I attended the Stenhouse Author Reception on Saturday night where I had interesting conversations with other authors and many of the people who work at Stenhouse.  Many thanks to Stenhouse for hosting such a great celebration!
  • I ate dinner with Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli at Max Brenner (where I had the most amazing cup of hot chocolate in my life!). We caught up, talked shop, and made some future plans.
  • I caught up with my friend Emily who I rarely see now that I no longer live in New England.  She and her family invited me to their home for Shabbat dinner, which was such a wonderful treat! Additionally, Emily and I had a delicious brunch together at Flour in Back Bay before I caught the train home.
  • And finally, I shared stories and broke bread with other Slicers. Linda Baie, Catherine FlynnBonnie KaplanClare Landrigan, Tammy Mulligan, Mandy Robek, Amy Rudd, Lee Ann Spillane, Tara Smith, and Karen Terlecky (and Amy’s colleague Kristi who we’re hoping will join the SOLSC in March!) joined me for breakfast at Trident Booksellers and Cafe on Newberry Street.  Here’s a photo of the 12 of us:

Clockwise from the bottom left: Mandy, Lee Ann, Stacey, Clare, Tara, Linda, Bonnie, Catherine, Tammy, Amy, Kristi, and Karen

Next year’s NCTE Annual Convention will be held in Washington, DC from November 20 – 25th. Will you be there?