Just back from the National Conference of Teachers of English conference which was held in Orlando at Disneyworld’s Coronado Convention Center. Several thousand teachers, librarians, reading specialists, authors and publishers descended upon the house that Mickey built for a week of keynotes, break out sessions, cocktail parties and side trips to the magic Kingdom.
Sara and I were there to attend sessions and to speak about our new book HIGH DEFINITION. We were good citizens – trying to travel self contained so as not to cost our publisher extra dough for projector and sound equipment rental by bringing our own equipment. We were set for the fifty or so folks we expected in our session. Lucky thing we decided to scope out our room the night before our presentation – seems NCTE had put us into a ballroom that seated over 300 folks!
We quickly became friends with Dave – the grand king daddy of all things audio visual for the conference and lucky for us, a friend of our publisher’s school secretary equivalent (you know, the person who is really in charge of everything) Lori. So the next day ignoring a minor hiccup by an uncooperative word document we gave a pretty good session to a packed ballroom!
We did manage to sneak off one of the days and visit the Magic Kingdom – my first trip back to this particular park in over 35 years where we did the roller coaster Space Mountain, the Splash Mountain ride, some inscrutable thing featuring the cartoon character Stitch which we still don’t really know what it was supposed to be about and the Haunted mansion. I remember how high tech and impressive the mansion was those many years ago and now – sadly it seemed a bit dated. Special effects that were uncanny when i was 12 years old were now, rather humdrum.
Finally, we stayed after the official conference to attend ALAN The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents. Which is like speed dating for authors and educators – two to three authors sit up on a dais for half hour long panels where they talk about their latest books and teachers listen and then cue up in lines in the back of the ballroom to have these books signed by the attending authors. Sara and I along with our poetry pal, Alan Wolfe popped up a couple times in between these panel sessions and performed some of our poems thanks to an invitation from Dr. Jim Blasingame – Pooh-Bah of the organization and a performing cowboy poet himself.
We also got to hang out with a bunch of really cool teachers who we have got to know over the years – mostly friends Sara made during the years she worked and learned with literacy expert Janet Allen. Christine, Kelli, Anne, Beth, LeeAnn, our poetry slam compatriot Elizabeth, our new buddy Jack Gantos, Orlando native Charles Waters, Boyds Mills Press, Heinemann and a whole slew of folks far too many to mention made this one of our best NCTEs ever.