Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spring Conferences

I had an amazing week this week at the IRA Conference! The International Reading Association Conference is always a great one, and this year was truly exceptional! I enjoyed learning from some phenomenal presenters like Richard Allington, Regie Routman, "The Sisters" (Gail Boushey and Joan Moser -- who I personally adore!), Sharon Taberski, Lori Oczkus, Karen Bromley, and many others. It was also nice to run into and catch up with some long-time friends and colleagues from around the country. I appreciate everyone who came to my presentation. I was beyond shocked that there was "standing room only" for my session -- especially when I saw the other presenters who were on at the same time in the program!

Sharon Taberski shared a quote from Myrtle Simpson from the New Zealand Department of Education in her presentation: "A child's school day should make sense. It should be about something. Ideally the various components of the day should work toegether, building upon one another for some purpose. A teacher's day should make sense [also]. Teachers who can see a wholeness and simplicity in their curriculum have an easier task of organizing their day than those who are frustrated or intimidated by what they interpret as the increasing complexity of the curriculum demanded of them." I've been re-reading this quote for the past couple of days since Sharon shared it. This beautifully captures and sums up why I stay excited about the professional development work that I do with educators! In our mad rush to equip students with all the standards that we're held accountable for, we have to make our own professional development a priority so that we are able to hold such a view.

I've been blessed to be able to speak at several large educational conferences in the last couple of months. In addition to IRA, I've had a great time meeting educators at the National Title I Conference, the Maryland State Reading Conference, and the Wisconsin State Title I Conference. While I've hopefully shared something that has enabled educators to have an easier task of organizing and implementing quality instruction, I certainly have taken away ideas from each of these conferences that have propelled me to greater insights about my work with both educators and with young people. Personally, I think that one of the most fun aspects of being an educator is the fact that about the time that we have a firm grip on implementing the latest reform effort, that effort changes and it's time to learn something else. It's by having a solid understanding of young people and of the learning process that we are able to see the "new" as a tool to make our teaching more simple, rather than as another innovation to try to endure.

Thanks, loyal educators across the world, for continuing to learn and grow, thereby enabling young people to stay engaged in the learning process!