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NCTE November: Magical Moments

Happy November! With NCTE right around the corner – physically and metaphorically – we want to dedicate this month’s feature to the conference. Please check back regularly to enjoy posts about NCTE past and present as our teacher consultants reminisce about past conference experiences and share their plans for presenting at this year’s event.


With the flip of my calendar page, my excitement for this year’s conference became palpable. As I count the days until my next NCTE experience, I can’t help but think back on past moments that are filled with memorable encounters and game-changing presentations.

There was the elevator ride with Matt de la Peña. With my infant daughter wrapped to my chest, we chatted about our children, bed time stories, and his books. I was able to thank him for creating the sweet story, Love, which without fail lulls my daughter to sleep each night while bringing tears to my eyes.

There was the Kylene Beers’ presentation when we were asked to share memorable reading experiences with someone nearby and I turned to find Bob Probst standing to my left. We introduced ourselves and chatted in response to Kylene’s question for a bit before I let my excitement take over and I gushed about his influence on my teaching. I was able to thank him for his reading signposts, which have changed my reading instruction and strengthened my students reading engagement.

There was sitting next to Nic Stone as she read aloud from Dear Martin and led us in a book discussion. Afterwards, I was able to thank her for writing a book that made my husband, a strict nonfiction reader, fall in love with fiction again.

There was meeting a friend for dinner, and upon arrival being introduced to the “kind person who kept her company while she waited” – Linda Rief. We chatted about books and writing and our kids and her grandchildren until our tables were ready. Before we parted ways, I was able to thank her for her quick writes, which have made my students and me better, more confident writers for years.

And there are the countless hard-working, thoughtful, innovative educators who take the time to share their craft. From them I have gained new insights into teaching poetry, fiction, nonfiction, writing, reading, and, of course, my students. Because of them I am a better teacher.

Finally, there are my colleagues and friends, who have co-planned, co-presented, and collaborated with me. They have invited me to join them in sharing our voices. They have pushed me out of my comfort zone. They have encouraged me to take chances on my own. And they have celebrated every success along the way. I cannot wait to make more memorable experiences with them in just a few short weeks.

If you have attended NCTE in the past, what magical moments happened for you? If you are attending this year, please stop back later and share your experiences. Please also stop by the PAWLP roundtable – How Can We Help Our Students Establish and Maintain a Writer’s Identity? – and say hi!