Anybody Else Excited about NCTE11 in Chicago?

The 2011 NCTE annual convention is now just around the corner. I can’t wait. This will be my fourth convention, and nothing has ever come close to energizing my teaching as the experiences I’ve had at these gatherings. This year the NCTE convention is in Chicago. I live in suburban Chicago, so my preparations for this one are a little different than for previous trips to San Antonio, Philadelphia, and Orlando. I’ll be taking the commuter train into Chicago each day and sleeping in my own bed each night.

Here are some of things I’m most looking forward to about NCTE11 in Chicago. If you’re coming to Chicago, maybe some of these ideas will be helpful to you too.

I get to see my pals! I’m the luckiest guy in the world when it comes to colleagues, both on-site and online. It’s a complete thrill to get together in person with the great friends that I interact with so frequently online. Expect hugs.

Because the convention is so close to us, several of my on-site colleagues are attending their first NCTE convention. I hope they are as blown away as I am by the energy and opportunities provided at the NCTE convention. I’m a little giddy thinking about how my worlds will merge when the amazing colleagues I work with every day meet my heroic friends that I only see once a year at this conference.

I’m honored to be able to share ideas at two sessions alongside terrific teachers like Tony Romano, Jodi Moeller, Douglas Jameson, Emily Hayes, and Lee Ann Spillane. Convention attendees have many overlapping options for sessions to attend, but please consider yourself invited to join us. We guarantee fun.

Friday, November 18, 2011: Session A.34
Writers Week: A Platform for Building Community
with Jodi Moeller, Douglas Jameson, and Tony Romano
Writers Week helps transform two schools into writing communities modeling tolerance and equity as students, faculty, and authors share their inspiring stories. Learn how your school can develop a similar program to generate widespread interest in writing on your campus by featuring writers from your school and hosting author visits.
Place: Chicago Hilton/Lake Ontario Room, Eighth Floor
Time: 9:30-10:45 a.m. CST

Friday, November 18, 2011: Session D.27
Zapping Apathy: Creating a Sense of Community in English Classes
with Tony Romano and Lee Ann Spillane and Emily Hayes
“This is boring!” Anyone who hasn’t heard that line has probably never been a high school English teacher! We love writing and literature, so why do our students not love them too? Find out about research on engaging students, and strategies guaranteed to zap the apathy in any English class.
Place: Chicago Hilton/Williford Room B, Third Floor
Time: 2:30-3:45 CST

The exhibit hall is a place of wonder that challenges us to discover exactly how many free books we can haul out of there without luggage damage. Just wandering around the exhibit hall provides mind-boggling, eye-opening revelations about materials and resources available for our schools and classrooms. This is also the place where authors galore are available for chatting and signing books. Take a look at the convention program to see when your favorite authors will be there. Everyone passes through the exhibit hall, so don’t be surprised to literally bump into one of your heroes.

Speaking of the exhibit hall, On Saturday morning, Tony Romano and I will be in the EMC Publishing booth to give you a copy of our newly revised Expository Composition: Discovering Your Voice, the high school writing textbook we co-authored. We’re proud of and excited about this new edition that now includes an “Online Writing” section, as well as new student and professional writing models, plus everything we know about teaching writing. Between the two of us, we’ve been doing it for almost sixty years, so we’ve learned a few things, and we’re eager to share. Please stop by and say hi. If you can’t come by on Saturday morning, be sure to chat with the nice folks at EMC while you’re in the booth and get a copy of the book.

With Chicago as the host site, the Illinois Association of Teachers of English has been working hard to help things run smoothly IATE is an impressive bunch of friendly people, dedicated to serving our profession. If convention-goers need something, IATE volunteers will be on hand to help.

The City of Chicago itself is a blast. I hope convention-goers have time to explore. Within walking distance of the convention sites, you can find world-class public art, as well as The Art Institute of Chicago, home of Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks,” Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” Mary Cassatt’s “The Bath,” and the largest collection of Impressionist paintings outside of Paris. For shopping, State Street (“that great street”) is within easy walking distance, and Michigan Avenue—the Magnificent Mile—is a quick cab ride. Depending on the weather, Grant Park and Millennium Park are nice places to stroll and also close to the convention sites.

As I said at the top, I can’t wait to see my friends, but I’m also looking forward to meeting new people. English teachers are different from other educators (in a good way), and I learn a great deal from each teacher I’m lucky enough to meet. If you’re reading this, and you’ll be at the convention, I hope we have the chance to cross paths and talk at least a little at the convention.

I think this blog post has used up my yearly allotment of superlatives. I hope you will add your thoughts about NCTE11 here! What are you excited about? Can I help with any Chicago info? What sessions will you attend or present?

Hope to see you soon.

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6 Responses to Anybody Else Excited about NCTE11 in Chicago?

  1. Mindi Rench says:

    This is my second NCTE, but I’m super excited! I think the thing I’m most looking forward to is spending time with the people I’ve only been able to see online for the better part of a year (yourself included). Yes, the sessions will be great, and of course I’ll come away with a box full of books from the exhibit hall, but those face to face connections with like-minded people will sustain me for the next year.


  2. cb717 says:

    Gary, I’m very excited, too! I can never explain to others how refreshed/energized I feel after NCTE and am always encouraging them to check it out and see for themselves…like you mentioned, they all quickly realize what we have already found:] Hopefully I will run into you this year! Take care!


  3. Very excited for my first NCTE, and to meet in person all of the great teachers that I’m already working with online.


  4. Grading Girl says:

    Hi Gary, I’m really looking forward to seeing you and my other across-the-tracks colleagues at the convention! I’m especially excited to attend your Zapping Apathy session! See you soon, Theresa

    p.s. While I don’t comment nearly as much as I should, I stop by your site from time to time. Thank you for posting such informative, worthwhile entries. If only more teachers shared like this . . .


  5. D. Jameson says:

    Absolutely excited! Can’t wait to see you and Tony again!


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