By Kim Miklusak
I am thankful in our district that we have the opportunity to be reimbursed for most--if not all--of the cost of attending some conferences both locally and nationally. At the end of November I had the opportunity to attend #NCTE15, the Annual Convention for the National Council of Teachers of English. It was the first time I had attended this conference since I was in college! Last summer, some of our instructional tech teachers had the opportunity to attend ISTE. Right now, Linda Ashida is attending and presenting at the Learn Forward Conference with Lori Abbott. These are just a few examples of the many opportunities our teachers have had recently (please share more!).
One thing that struck me most about attending NCTE was the open collaboration and sharing between not only presenters and audiences, but also between people in the audience; connections made between elementary, high school, and university staff; and the people connected on Twitter through the hashtag. I was able to attend session strands in rhetoric, writing, and social justice--three topics I have been focusing on in my own professional development this year. Currently I am working on a blog series to summarize and share what I have learned.
Ultimately the goal of attending these conferences doesn't end just at personal professional development, but it then continues to also multiply the learning back at our own school. I was able to bring materials back to my team and to suggest other ideas for our curriculum and instruction. I think so often teachers get bogged down with the day-to-day and year-to-year demands of the classroom and lives. It's vital, I believe, for each of us to--as often as we can--get out, share our ideas, feel affirmation for what we are doing, be challenged by new ideas, and learn in order to grow.