This Thanksgiving season, I am thankful for opportunities to learn and to celebrate that learning with friends. One of my highlights of the year is the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual conference. Last year, due to health issues, I wasn't able to attend. So, I was even more excited to attend. Given that craziness of the past several months, I was hoping I could truly enjoy the time. It didn't take long, just a couple of conversations with friends over meals to begin to unwind. I love that learning happens at meals and not just at the formal sessions. it is especially nice that I never have to apologize for being enthusiastic about reading and writing and teaching.
I loved the signs at the airport and on the street welcoming us to St. Louis!
I am terrible at taking photos throughout the weekend and was lucky to get one selfie with my NCTE roommate, Jen Vincent (Teach Mentor Text). I wish we had more time to spend together but I always look forward to seeing her.
Throughout the course of the day, I ran into so many friends at the exhibit hall or at sessions. I need to figure out how to balance attending sessions and spending some quality time with friends.
Another highlight of Friday was a panel on nonfiction writing that I was fortunate to be able to moderate. Melissa Stewart, Deb Heiligman, and Candace Fleming engaged in a lively discussion about crafting nonfiction. I keep thinking about what they shared and the tips that they provided. I am looking forward to sharing them with teachers when I get back after Thanksgiving break.
Another annual tradition is to attend the Children's Book Award Luncheon.
Sunday is the final day of the conference and this year was super busy for me. I was moderating 3 panels. The morning kicked off with a panel on building classroom empathy through the books we share. Despite the early start time, the authors on the panel (Melanie, Erin, Josh, and Olugbemisola) came with lots of energy and ideas to share with teachers.
In the middle of the morning, Barb, Cynthia and Christine engaged in a dynamic conversation about nonfiction reading and writing with a small audience of attendees. Sunday sessions can be difficult since people start leaving throughout the day. Despite our small group, I felt like I learned so much from everyone who was present and shared ideas.
My final session on Sunday was spent with 5 nonfiction authors (Sarah, Alex, Loree, Laurie, and Joan) who enthusiastically shared about their strategies and techniques for writing nonfiction and providing teachers with ideas to use in their classroom. I was so thankful that people were still around to attend. Thanks to the presenters before us, our session may have included Blood Mary shots.
I can't believe that it has been nearly a week since NCTE '17, missing everyone, and looking forward to NCTE '18 in Houston, Texas. I am thankful the publishers who sponsored the authors that participated on the panels and for the dinner invitations to get to know and interact with some amazing authors and other participants in a smaller setting. I was also thankful to spend some time with Cynthia Alaniz, Lisa Morris-Wilkey, Kellee Moye, Cathy Blacker, Jennie Motes Smith, Glenda Funk, Michelle Hasseltine, and more. Unfortunately, there were too many folks that I missed seeing. Hopefully next year, but until then, I am thankful for social media as a way of connecting.