Flicker - ManicMandy
I've been sitting on this post for quite some time. I wasn't quite sure where to begin. I think it all begins with one little three letter word - WOW! I didn't have any expectations for my first NCTE. I didn't really know what to expect except I was hopping on a plane, rooming with my friend Karen, and had sessions a little bit planned.
I've been pondering my thoughts from this amazing experience when Tony had so many great things to say and I thought he was reading my mind. Please make sure you catch his post and know I share his thinking. It was actually comforting to run into Tony during the course of the conference and have someone confirm the "Wow factor". Everywhere I turned there were very smart people sharing and presenting well thought out, rich thinking. Thirteen is usually considered an unlucky number not this trip. I was blessed to attend 13 lucky sessions to provoke thinking, reflection, and excitement. My whole body has been walking around with an internal sense of joy. I needed this feeling. I needed to feel excited again about the work I'm trying to do daily. I needed to be surrounded by people who believe in the same thoughts, practices, and want to discuss theory a bit. While this was a trip about teaching, my profession I think I walked away with a deeper sense of people and belonging. One reason I went was to meet people. This sense of belonging is filled with good richness. I wish I could bottle it all and share it with everyone.
My sense of belonging was cultivated by so many wonderful people. I learned from and met so many mentors in person. I can't begin to share it all here but in the spirit of belonging these moments got me there.
1. I had the pleasure of meeting Brenda Power, the owner and creator of Choice Literacy. Appreciating the good food and conversations with just lovely people this evening.
2. Yes, I did stop Donalyn Miller and ask her a question for a friend about middle school scheduling. She was so gracious and kind to answer "our" questions with honesty, concern, and caring.
3. I sat behind Lucy Calkins at the opening session and could of reached out and pinched her. I had control and didn't. I wanted to respect her personal space and found myself in wonder with the amount of notes she took during the session. Here is a pioneer in our field taking notes to help her grow within her work, a mentor of mine to keep.
4. Food always brings comfort and eating with various people always brought conversations about our work but also conversations about our personal lives, thus creating balance and belonging. I had one meal with many, including Laura Komos who I had only connected with previously via twitter. Thanks for the wonderful eats, Chicago!
5. Starbucks and giftcards made the perfect breakfast destination. One conversation with Mary Lee really got the importance of taking the unexpected, letting it work out, only to discover the pleasure and delight one would of missed otherwise.
6. I read a lot so spending some time with Kathy Collins, Ruth Shagoury, and Andie Cunningham was just delightful. I'm going to explore The Courage to Teach, something we all may need during these difficult times in education. I actually got to do a small book shopping trip with Andie and felt so inspired by chatting with her about life in general. Excitement feeds excitement.
7. I really need to thank Franki for getting me involved and connected with so many people. If you have ever spent time with Franki she is like an infection - her ideas spread quickly. She is a motivator and cheerleader! I did get my photo with her, yea!
8. I'm really not sure I would of gone if Karen hadn't been willing to be my roommate and travel companion. I usually don't travel without four others. It was amazing to pack one suitcase and a purse for four days. Karen had so much great advice for navigating ncte, great conversations, and a Chicago tour guide. She even got me to the American Girl Doll store and a bit of Christmas shopping done.
9. I loved talking with Stella and knowing she too speaks fast with excitement made our conversation probably something to watch for others. I loved walking fast in the city with Katie. I loved Ann Marie's sincere smile and excitement to be sitting together at dinner. These were times for stories and stories foster connections.
10. At one point, I was overwhelmed. I can't fib about that! At this point, I might have a been a smidge homesick for my girls. I mentioned to Cathy my pb10for10 partner I was going to stop blogging, writing, and take a break from it all. Sometimes it's best to end on a high note and walk away. Well Cathy, I'm not going anywhere. I'm back. I need this sense of belonging in my heart.
So many links I could make but I want to enjoy the writing and my connections, I hope you do too.