Sunday, May 10, 2009
blogging again this time- Minneapolis...
I am behind again. I can blame it on a week away at the International Reading Association Convention in Minneapolis. I also came in to work a week ago Thursday to discover that four consultant positions had been cut including mine! Now I knew my four years were over but I felt fine as I would be leaving my position in trusted hands and our literacy team in good shape. Not in the tentative budget but in the final, four consultant positions were cut. Surprise, surprise! I know that the news in the schools isn't good this week but it's a strange feeling knowing that your position will be gone and without any warning.
Going to the conference turned out to be an excellent idea. Sometimes it really helps to get a different perspective. The conference was non stop from first thing Sunday to Thursday and it's going to take me awhile to really digest everything. I came home with a suitcase of books despite the fact that the economy had somewhat affected the generosity of publishers. I discovered some great new professional literature. Then there is the magic of all the authors. Just before I left I had read a novel by Jacqueline Woodson, Locomotion, so that it was rather special hearing her read it. The opening session was with the author, Khaled Hosseini, of The Kiterunner, a book I loved. I warned my aunt that when I gave that book to her, she might want to skip over certain sections. She read it and then said she was going to read it again and not skip anything. It was wonderful hearing him and listening to how he came to be a writer and his family's real experiences in America and what inspired him to write The Kite Runner (originally a short story written when he discovered that the Taliban had outlawed flying kites, a favorite pastime of his childhood) as well as learning about his foundation and his views on Afghanistan currently.
Authors... I was able to hear Katherine Patterson describe what led to writing Gilly Hopkins. She described taking in two brothers and finding it all a bit much and realizing that she was treating them as if they were disposable and that was a problem with our society which often seems to view people as disposable.
I went to many practical sessions as well as looking at some of the latest research. I got to be inspired by Carol Santa, Linda Hoyt, Stephanie Harvey, Harvey Daniels, Jerome Harste, etc. etc.
At conferences I always listen for themes, and a few came through to me here. One was the importance of students being able to see themselves in books, another was the importance of inquiry and choice, another was the importance of expecting the most from our students, and for them to see real purposes for reading and writing, yet another was the importance of having a world perspective and a sense of social responsibility which you might hope to see at the International Reading Association Convention.
Anyway it was great to be able to attend this conference and I know this is only a glimpse but I know that you will hear more...