I cannot believe that I haven't been going to NCTE all these years. It was edifying in all the ways that leave one feeling validated and ready to do battle with the questions that plague the public school English teacher, including but certainly not limited to: Am I teaching people, not books? I have made great gains in independent reading, but how can I do better? How can I extend the amount of time and emphasis I place on the importance of choice literacy? How can I continue to legitimatize the 21st century literacies my students possess through use of technology as a means for expressing ideas and synthesizing understanding? How can I continue to progress in the important aim of framing the work my students do as inquiry into human nature, the imperatives of socially just living, the art of writing as a means for examining and expressing one's greatest passions and deepest truths?
Other exciting news from NCTE:
-I've added 70 new books to my classroom library, more or less courtesy of the publishers that were present.
-I met and took pictures with Walter Dean Myers, Laurie Halse Anderson, AND--gaaaasp--Naomi Shihab Nye!!!!
-I was able to see Sara Dessen speak. Her books are circulating among my students daily--you'd be hard pressed to find the titles back in my classroom library for more than a couple periods after being returned.
-I attended an excellent session on the portrayal of gay males in both young adult literature identified as LGBTQ and otherwise. The session focused on the trouble with authors' pursuit of realism through the use of homophobic language--how this authenticates the view of individuals who identify as LGBTQ as necessarily different and, usually, negatively so. The session's main criticism reminded me much of the criticisms of Sasha Baron Cohen's film, Bruno, in that the movie, while trying to expose homophobia, authenticated it as it elicited laughs from the general populace much more frequently than discomfort at the depictions of ignorance and hatred, and as Cohen's character's behavior was both a stereotypical and narrow-minded depiction of homosexual identity. The session's speakers acknowledged that there has been progress in the inclusion of characters who identify as LGBTQ in a range of literature, but much work remains in depicting these characters and the societies in which they function.
P.S. - Junot Diaz did the keynote and I kind of want to marry him now.