Friday, March 9, 2007

Colorado Language Arts Society (CLAS) Conference

I'm at one of my favorite events - the CLAS regional spring conference and once again I am reminded of how proud I am to be a part of an organization and profession that continually works for improvement. When I was first exposed to this conference five years ago, I was a second year teacher and was uncertain about how a weekend could impact me. Now, five years later, this is an event I look forward to months ahead.

What this conference means to me:

  • Chance to reconnect with colleagues - I have had the honor of visiting with a teacher who I knew at my first teaching job. It was wonderful to discuss what has happened in the few years that I have been gone. I love hearing that the principal who gave me a chance as a first year teacher was still thriving in her position. I also liked hearing that some teachers who I was inspired by were still teaching strong. Many of them probably do not realize their impact on me as a first and second year teacher. However, my standard of what a teacher who is also a coach should be was set high by teachers who cared deeply about both and never sacrificed teaching for coaching.
  • Chance to learn from others - I have been to a few sessions today that have provided tools that I can use in my classroom within days or weeks. I learned how to refine my literature circles, how to inspire students with archetypes and the hero's quest, and how to help students revise their argumentative research thesis. This is my true inspiration. I love seeing how other teachers think and love being able to take their inspiration from their classroom to my own.
  • Chance to learn from professional authors - Richard Peck and Nikki Grimes were two speakers that I heard today. Both inspired me to be a better teacher and a better writer. I love hearing their enthusiasm for telling stories through poetry and prose.
  • Chance to spoil myself - As participants at this conference we get special rates at one of the most amazing hotels, The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. This is a chance for teachers to spoil themselves by staying in a place that many would not normally be able to afford. I'm looking around my room in amazement now because it is so much nicer than my condominium. I guess one thing that could define the room the best is the fact that I have a plasma TV in the bathroom. As I sit in the extra deep bathtub, I can watch channels that I don't subscribe to at home. I feel completely spoiled.

Most importantly....I feel a rush when I realize that each person who attends this conference will positively affect the lives of a hundred or more students. There is immense power in being a part of that energy.

Tomorrow I will experience more sessions and reflect more with newly met colleagues and old friends. I truly wish all English teachers from my state would be here to revive themselves and learn more ways to inspire their students. I will be posting some of my more specific learnings in the next few days.

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