Sunday, November 22, 2009

Back from 3-D World

This weekend I spent time with colleagues in real-world, real-time at the NWP conference with a quick sidetrip to the NCTE conference--both held in Philadelphia. I heard, via a bookseller at Heineman, that this was the highest attendance at an NCTE convention.
Could it be that we are all aware that this may be the last one for awhile? He didn't see it that way, but knowing what won't be available in funds next year, I was inclined to see it as a last gasp before a long dry spell.
Highlights of the meetings include my favorite: break-out sessions replete with mad brainstorming on how to improve sites, inspire kids, and fill up the energy reserve. Within minutes, table-mates act like old buddies and the ideas fly around. I have pages of notes.
Second only to that was hearing and meeting Billy Collins, a poet who has done much to build my confidence in teaching the genre I struggle with the most. His humor is what has given me entrée into a world I've never quite "gotten."
And finally was the connection with the three-dimensional versions of the online colleagues I have come to know through their writing: Claudia Swisher of Oklahoma, and the Wicked-bad Laurie Wasserman of Massachusetts. We've 'known' each other for five years. Still, a live meeting brings a dimension not found virtually. And then there's the moment of hesitation as you try to absorb the living breathing version that you've known only through deep, written conversations. There's a kind of, "Huh? What shall we talk about besides saving the world?"
These meetings are important, I realize every time I come back from one. Removing yourself from your daily context shifts the discussions. Seeing and working with others who have the same struggles is important.
I wonder who will be able to go next year....