I just returned from Pittsburgh, where I attended the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual convention, one that I have been attending regularly for the last few years. As usual, I ate too much, got too little exercise and sleep, and generally had a marvelous time.
*** Dinner on Friday night with about 60 members of the Talkies, a listserv of English teachers who have been my online and in-person friends since I joined several years ago. We ate at Mallorca, a lovely restaurant near one of the rivers in Pittsburgh (don't ask me which one). The waiters were funny and good-looking, the conversation was stimulating, the food was delicious. Good times all around.
*** Attending a session by Leila Christenbury, Anne Gere, and Kelly Sassi on strategies to help students become skilled at on-demand writing (picture the state assessments here) WITHOUT making test prep part of our curriculum. My methods class has been concerned about this issue, and I now have some great ideas to share with them, as well as a book to suggest (Writing on Demand by Christenbury, Gere, and Sassi).
*** Several dinners with teachers from Johnson Junior High School in Cheyenne, who are dedicated and caring teachers of their students. They are AWESOME people, amazing dinner companions, and very funny to boot. If there's anything I can help with, you guys, let me know!
*** Getting to spend time with Beth, a former student teacher, who is now teaching English in Wyoming. When she said to me, "I love these kids -- and they need me," I couldn't help but get a shiver. Makes me feel like I'm having an impact, and I love that!
*** A serious brainstorm while sitting on the plane, on the way home. I took out a draft of an article and revised the crap out of it, with the end result that it is about ready to send out. Just one more session and it should be done. I think I needed that opportunity to get my mind OFF the list of things to do here, and it got seriously into writing mode.
*** More great materials and ideas for my methods class. In addition, I'm setting up a blog with a few other English ed folks to discuss how we handle the teaching of reading comprehension strategies and pop culture/media literacy in the methods class. I'm also about to start moderating a listserv for those who attended the CEE colloquium on Monday, which was also about pop culture in the English/methods classroom.
*** Several people attended the policy session that we presented, and we have lots of ideas about developing an action network, beginning with those who came. It feels great to be involved and helping people to connect!
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. I'm exhausted, but it's a good tired.
Now, to get ready for Thanksgiving . . .