Celebrate: #NCTE15

celebrate link up

Ruth Ayres hosts a weekly celebration on her blog. I appreciate this invitation to reflect on the positives of my week.

And what positives there are! I’m in Minneapolis at #NCTE15, and here are just a few of the good things I’m celebrating.

Conversation. The drive from western South Dakota was long (nearly 11 hours!), but the company was good. I especially appreciated a chance to catch up with one of my favorite teachers, Kelsey Empfield, who is doing such good work in her first semester in the classroom.

Safety.  I’ve never driven anything so large as a Tahoe Suburban before, and I’ve got to say, I don’t know how you SUV drivers do it. I kept imagining that I was driving a school bus, but we made it safely in one piece without any particular scares. Well, except for when I thought I put the wrong gas in. Thank you, Melissa Rosfeld, for assuring me that E85 is a suggestion, not a requirement.

Solitude. I have a king-sized bed ALL TO MYSELF. There are four giant pillows. The softest duvet. And no pets. No cats walking over me at two a.m. No pit bull click-clacking across the wooden floor at four a.m. just to make sure the people are still in bed.

Sleep. Probably related to solitude, but I slept for eight hours last night, which hasn’t happened in the past month.

Authors. I’m with Beth Shaum:

Today, I heard Alison Bechdel, Wendy Shang, Jeff Anderson, Tim Federle, Varian Johnson, Meg Medina, Phillip Stead, Cynthia Lord, Liesl Shurtliff, Kelly Barnhill, Lynda Mulally Hunt, and Lisa Graff speak. It was a good day.

Illustrators. I try not to fangirl, but I got to meet Erin Stead today. Erin. Stead. It was hard to keep it together and be chill. Also, Shane Evans gave me a hug and that was pretty awesome.

Learning. This probably shouldn’t come after solitude and sleep, should it? Two sessions from today that I’ll be reflecting on for awhile: Phillip Stead and Erin Stead’s provocative arguments about “books for kids vs books at kids” and Lynda Mulally Hunt’s and Justin Stygles’s heartfelt exploration of the shame felt by struggling readers.

Books.  Mike Hall is probably getting sick of receiving thank you texts from me (I’ve sent three now), but Kwame Alexander’s new novel is a seriously big deal at my house, and Mike came through and scored a copy for me. My son is not a reader, but he loved The Crossover so much that he read it twice. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so excited for an ARC.


Confirmation. My pre-service teachers have been hearing it from me for years, and here at #NCTE15, the nine of them who traveled with me have it confirmed. Workshop really is best. All students can be reached. Relationships are our primary business as teachers. Books save lives.






26 responses to “Celebrate: #NCTE15”

  1. margaretsmn Avatar

    So good to get a brief look at you. Wish we could visit longer. I am amazed you got a post written. I haven’t even gone to the bathroom all day. What a great place to be!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I have no idea how I got this post written either! I was very glad to have a chance to see you. What a wonderful conference it is. So glad to go every year. I always return so refreshed and ready to try new things in my classroom.

  2. Terje Avatar

    I can feel the joy in your words. Good sleep allows you to take in learning with attention and stamina. Reading how full your day has been i can imagine you need another restful night. Wishing you a safe travel home.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks, Terje. I tend to skimp on sleep and figure it doesn’t matter, but my brain certainly works better with it!

  3. carriegelson Avatar

    I would love to go to NCTE but honestly, I think I would prefer the 11 hour drive with you so we could talk and talk and talk! 🙂 Enjoy your time!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Dreaming of 11 hr drives now with Carrie riding shotgun! (And also wondering where that expression comes from. Off to Google!) I have a feeling 11 hrs would fly by!

  4. Deb Day Avatar

    I’m still working on posts from my first NCTE ((I would love to connect with you here. I can’t believe I didn’t see that you were!). But this is such an experience. I missed Kwame’s book, but have so many others that I can just see kids reading. The sessions have been amazing, and even I, a very “experienced” teacher learned so many things. I wish I had been able to attend earlier!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I always learn so much, Deb. I challenge myself to go to sessions outside my wheelhouse, but I don’t always manage it. I’m drawn to the sessions with Penny Kittle, Donalyn Miller, and others who confirm my best practices and help me tweak what I do in slight ways that I think do make a difference. Sorry we didn’t connect, but perhaps you’ll go to Atlanta next year? If so, we are meeting for coffee for sure!

  5. Leigh Anne Avatar

    I have been following the tweets all day! Such passion and learning and inspiration shared in such few words, I can only imagine what it is like in real life! Enjoy…the sleep and the solitude too!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      How I love Twitter! I can learn in the sessions I’m attending AND in sessions I can’t get to! Hope you’ll be able to make it in person some day!

  6. Ramona Avatar

    So fun to read your post and feel your excitement. Your author list is incredible. What a day! Enjoy the rest and solitude too, since you’ll be surrounded by more conversation on your drive home. What fun – to have time to share thinking with other people who attended. I read Hunt’s Fish in a Tree on my flight home last year!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Wasn’t that an amazing list of authors? And Day 2 brought even more! It’s wonderful to attend with a group of my students since they all attend different sessions and we can compile learning at the end of the day. Helps lessen my fear of missing out!

  7. Linda Baie Avatar

    You’ve made me jealous many times over, Julieanne, but still am happy you’ve had such a wonderful time meeting all those ‘rockstars’. O Happy Days! Happy thanksgiving, too.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      So much fun, Linda! One of my students told me NCTE is coming back to Denver in a few years–I hope so!

  8. Earl @ The Chronicles Of A Children's Book Writer Avatar

    NCTE almost seems like a party with the coolest people in children’s literature!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      The amazing authors and illustrators who attend, present, sign, and just plain wander around interacting with their adoring fans are a major draw, for sure. I always discover some new favorites too. I love that the children’s book folks AND the YA lit folks are represented.

  9. Tara Smith Avatar

    You had an amazing time at NCTE – good for you! And bravo for being able to master driving a big ass SUV!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Love it, Tara! My NCTE started with Allison Bechdel and ended with Kadir Nelson, and even if there had been nothing else, that would have been worth the trip!

  10. Crystal Avatar

    Sounds like a fantastic time at NCTE and congrats on driving the SUV. I did that when I was in a running relay and was happy to get back to my little car afterwards. 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      LOL, Crystal, by the end of the trip, I feel like I had the hang of it, but it was a little dicey there the first day. I was very pleased to get into Hester, my Honda Accord, this morning. She’s just the right size!

  11. Elizabeth Avatar

    OMG! Dorothy woke me up about 5 times last night click-clacking her way up the stairs and over to the bed. And then I get out, lift her heavy body onto the bed, and she stays for 2 minutes and click-clacks downstairs again. I told her a certain pug spent the whole night under the covers not moving a muscle!

    The conference sounds great!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      The click clacking of claws. SIGH. If Roxy could get into the bed, she would probably nestle under the covers and sleep for 12 hrs, but she has old dog smell and she’s still a bed hog, so I just can’t do it. Poor pit bull.

      1. Elizabeth Avatar

        Dorothy had a grand mal seizure in the bed last night! It was absolutely horrific and terrifying. I will never complain about her click-clacking ever again! She seems fine now, but I truly thought she was dying. Ugh.

  12. cvarsalona Avatar

    Elisabeth, it was such a wonderful meet-up between you and me-talking as if we knew each other for years. That is one of the perks of being a connected educator. I am definitely exhausted from the travel but exuberant from the experience. I included a photo of you and me in my collage on my first post about NCTE. I wanted to talk further about families and struggles we all go through but time did not permit. In the months that come we can now explore life deeper because we are of one mind now, united in friendship.

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