"Who's attending their 2nd to 5th NCTE Convention?" Hm, feels like longer than that.
"Who has been coming between 6 and 10 years?" This time I raised my hand, and now let's see if I'm right...
I didn't go to Las Vegas in 2012; instead we moved house (fun, but not the same kind of fun at all!).
And now here I am in Minneapolis 2015, my sixth NCTE. I've also been to two ALAs (New Orleans and DC) and probably 3 SCBWI February Winter Conferences in New York, as well as two very seminal workshops at the Highlights Foundation. I'm very lucky to attend any of these, since my school district does not offer, as far as I know, any funding whatsoever (and indeed I would be stunned to find anyone from Montgomery County, MD here at NCTE--I've never come across anyone, although I have to assume that at least a few HS teachers come.)
NCTE used to be fun but stressful for me as I tried to figure out how to allocate my precious 2-3 days of attendance. (Can you say "overchoice"?) Now I have a system which is a little confusing to some but which is working well: I come to NCTE as a poet and not as a teacher. Yes, I want to learn about things I can apply in my classroom, but I spend hours and hours every day being a teacher and not nearly enough, proportionally speaking, being a poet.
So when I come to NCTE, I look for the sessions which are being given by poet friends, and that way I meet THEIR friends and colleagues who are new to me, and I find out about their work and projects. I also seek out sessions which are about poetry and its uses and applications, and that way I meet folks and poems and streams of thought that are brand new to me (and which may well be applicable in my classroom). It's easy to fill up a schedule that way, and I come away from the convention feeling like I did something to tend the "back 40," as it were, to toss a little feed in the direction of my inner poetry chickens.
Woman Feeding Chickens | Roy ScheeleHer hand is at the feedbag at her waist,sunk to the wrist in the rustling grainthat nuzzles her fingertips when lacedaround a sifting handful. It’s like rain,like cupping water in your hand, she thinks,the cracks between the fingers like a sieve,except that less escapes you through the chinkswhen handling grain. She likes to feel it givebeneath her hand’s slow plummet, and the smell,so rich a fragrance she has never quitegot used to it, under the seeming spell...Read the rest at The Poetry Foundation.
So here's a thank you to the lovely hostesses at the Pomelo party I attended last night--Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong; here's to meeting up with old friends like Mary Lee Hahn; here's a thank you to Tricia, who's hosting Poetry Friday today and whom we miss, and here's to a really full weekend of poetry tending and feeding!