NCTE: Drowning in Cool

Some thoughts at about the 24 hour mark at this years National Council of Teachers of English conference.

Here’s the short version, if you are pressed for time.

-Wow it’s cool.

-There’s so much cool I feel like I’m drowning (but I mean that in a good way).

If you have more than a moment, here are some more specific preliminary reflections.

1) Natalie Merchant- Wow, was that great. Beautiful singing and I learned more about rhyming in ten minutes than in fifteen years of songwriting. And, she still has charisma like no one. A very cool way to start this conference with creativity and class.

2) Sir Ken Robinson- I’ve heard him speak and seen all the TedTalks. He is every bit as wonderful in person. The big memory for me will be what everyone already knows- “What I’m saying here today is only what seems to be perfectly obvious.” Well, its obvious to me too, but we all need to keep saying it.

3) Luddington High School– Those teachers are so awesome, and so is their principal. They gave me a vision of how to try to guide the conversation in our building, and some hope that maybe we could get to a place of teaching that is deep and meaningful and not driven by empty data sets, but by shared commitment on the part of serious professionals.

4) Rethinking Narrative with Penny Kittle, Kelly Gallagher and Tom Newkirk– With a list of names like that you’d of thought this would be really great. And you’d be right. The thing that sticks out at the moment is the theme sounded by all three of them, that narrative writing is really at the core of all writing. All communication is most effective in achieving its aims as story- we are the storytelling animal.  If we aren’t teaching our students the art of narrative then none of the other writing they do will mean very much.

Las Vegas- Well, this town is insane. But I was prepared for that.

The conference itself- the connectivity is better, but looking at the twitter stream for the conference it is apparent that this conference is not adapting fast enough (see my fussing from last year). It is the 21st century, we live in this world now, continuing to fail to account for that in our convention relegates us to the same insignificance to teachers that teachers have to students when we fail to embrace that current state of the world in our classrooms.

We gave a presentation this afternoon. you can link to the slides here. I’ll need to process that more, but the response was great from those that attended. Oh, and can I mentionthat TOM ROMANO came to our session. I took a picture of him. Here it is.

Pretty cool.

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