This post was written by NCTE member Kasey Short.
This year will be my fourth year in a row attending the NCTE Annual Convention. Every year at the conclusion, I leave energized to implement new ideas in my classroom, encouraged by speakers that challenge and inspire their audience, and hopeful for the future of English education.
The Convention presenters challenge and inspire me both personally and professionally. I encourage everyone who attends an NCTE Convention to look for the sessions and speakers that interest them. The General Session keynotes always leave me feeling proud to be part of an organization and profession that can attract distinguished speakers who value the work being done by English teachers. Their presentations share valuable insights and motivate me to continue working toward improving my own practice in way that will positively impact my students.
Memorable speakers from previous Conventions include Trevor Noah and George Takei; this year I am counting down the days until Michelle Obama and Amanda Gorman’s presentations. I am also looking forward to attending as many sessions designed and presented by educators and authors that I can fit in my schedule.
There are always more sessions than time, but I start by looking for sessions that connect to topics I plan on teaching, ideas that I may be unfamiliar with but want to learn more about, and sessions that include authors whose work I enjoy.
For this year’s Virtual Convention, I will prioritize the live sessions and then make a list of recorded sessions to view as time allows during and after the Convention. I also follow the Convention hashtag (#NCTE21) on Twitter; last year I found this to be a great resource for learning about sessions and connecting with other educators.
Attending an NCTE Convention is a great way to discover how to become more involved in the organization. A multitude of committees and publications provide opportunities for professional growth.
One of the most memorable moments of my first NCTE Convention was listening to the Build Your Stack® sessions. I returned home with pages of book recommendations. I love books and sharing that love with students is one of my favorite parts of my job. Listening to those sessions and hearing other educators recommend books with the same level of excitement I feel inspired me to write a blog post for Build Your Stack and to present at one of the sessions the following year. I am now part of the Build Your Stack committee and enjoy every opportunity to meet with the Committee and to continue to help educators build their own stack of books to read and recommend to students.
Each year that I have attended the NCTE Convention, I have returned to my classroom energized and in awe of how many innovative ideas, research-based strategies, and new resources I gained. While attending, I make lists to help me organize resources and ideas for my return to the classroom—general notes during sessions with ideas that interest me; “implement-now” notes; as well as a list of websites and books to revisit and read after the Convention. I also follow people on Twitter to make lasting connections.
The learning continues well after the Convention!
Kasey Short attended UNC-Chapel Hill and earned a BA in middle school education with a concentration in English and history. She went on to earn a Master’s of Education in curriculum and instruction from Winthrop University. She is currently an 8th-grade English teacher and English department chair at Charlotte Country Day School, North Carolina. Twitter: @Shortisweet3.
It is the policy of NCTE in all publications, including the Literacy & NCTE blog, to provide a forum for the open discussion of ideas concerning the content and the teaching of English and the language arts. Publicity accorded to any particular point of view does not imply endorsement by the Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, the staff, or the membership at large, except in announcements of policy, where such endorsement is clearly specified.