Each Tuesday Ruth and Stacey at Two Writing Teachers host Slice of Life Stories (SOLS). This is where bloggers link up to share anything they would like to share about what is happening in their lives.
While I am back at home and into my regular, hectic routine, my thoughts are still at NCTE. I will probably need a couple of posts to reflect on this amazing experience.
A year ago, I had just recently launched my blog and started participating on Twitter. I followed all the tweets from NCTE 2012 and was beyond jealous. As I read about the new things people were learning and the connections they were making, I vowed that I would attend in 2013 no matter what.
I am not exaggerating when I say that attending NCTE was THE best professional development experience I have had in my 20+ years in education. I was lucky to be there with my terrific Maine friends: Susan Dee, Mary Bellavance, Melissa Guerrette, Marylou Shuster, Jen Felt, Justin Stygles and Paula Bourque.
I was prepared for a great time, but there were a number of things for which I was totally unprepared.
I am going to use this post to write about what surprised me about NCTE and advice I would give a first timer.
*You don't sleep much. You are up early for breakfasts or sessions and you stay into the wee hours of the night talking with old and new friends. The Starbucks in the lobby may become your new favorite place.
*You will get emotional. I did not realize that tissues would be necessary at a literacy convention. When you meet a beloved author, you will cry. When someone shares an inspiring story, you will cry (aka-Donald Graves breakfast). When you meet online friends in person, you will cry. In my case, if you think about the fact that you are actually at NCTE, you will cry.
*You don't eat regular meals. Generally, I am not a meal skipper. However, when given the choice between learning from Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts, followed by hearing Temple Grandin speak rather than eating lunch, well of course you'd choose to skip lunch. Pack granola bars.
*You might not see the host city. I am a New England girl and I love Boston. We were right in the heart of the city and I did not see a single bit of it. In fact, I did not step foot outside from Thursday afternoon to Sunday afternoon when we left.
*You will get free books, LOTS of free books. Yes, I had heard that publishers give out free ARC's. But I was totally unprepared for the exhibit hall. Every time you turn around, a new author is signing a new book and many of them are free. I had 2 big bags full of books. Thankfully we drove to Boston and could bring our books home, but you may want to bring extra money to ship your books if you have to fly home.
All of those books lead me to my next tip....
*You may need a chiropractor or massage upon returning home. All those books are really heavy and you will have to carry them in a shoulder bag or in your arms. Either will lead to neck and back pain, but it is so worth it.
*If you don't get to a session early, you may not get a seat. Many sessions fill up quickly. It brought tears to my eyes (yes, again) to see teachers sitting in the floor of the room or standing outside the room straining to listen and learn from the presenter. It was a true testament to the dedication of teachers that want to learn all they can in order to help their students.
I am still processing all that I learned and experienced while in Boston. In future posts I will attempt to synthesize my learning into something I can express in a somewhat coherent way.