The night before I did my first NCTE preso at my first NCTE conference, I had my old guerrilla* teacher dream again. The one where I was crawling on my belly through debris-strewn streets with my Uzi in my hands, the dream I used to have when I first started teaching and felt like I was in a war zone every day. The most vivid part of the dream was me--I was wearing camo, the only part of the dream in color. That's why it was not a nightmare, there was this star quality about me, like I was living life in color...and eventually, the dream stopped as I grew more experienced and started to love the performance art that is teaching.
But I still sometimes felt like I was a lone soldier. When I added SSR, or grabbed onto a kid that someone else said was not worth it, or let the kids be in charge as we chose what to read together, or ran into the department office gushing about a book I read, I sometimes felt like I was an outlier. Well, NCTE changed all that last weekend.
I did have the dream again, mostly because I was nervous, but it gave me my focus for the speech. And I sat on a dais with three other inspiring teachers, not alone, as we talked about our passion for our students and where this led us. At the secondary section luncheon where everyone at my table geeked out about why we loved Sherman Alexie's books, we also told each other about the best sessions we had attended. No shame. The readers group led by Michael Moore and Carol Jago was just that--a place where I got to hear about the best book everyone else had just read. I met so many twitter friends in person, made “live” friends, and felt all my ideas just flowing. I felt at home, I was with family. I am sorry I waited so long to get to NCTE, but I am never going to miss it again. No more urban guerrilla teacher dreams. Everything and everyone was in color at NCTE. And I have not even written about meeting Sir Ken Robinson yet…
* there is unfortunately no photo of a teacher in camo to accompany this post, because I was not prepared for the images that popped up when I tried to find a picture. Gulp.