My first All-Write. The conference I have wanted to attend, seems like forever. I finally got there! And it was wonderful!
There was so much anticipation to meet friends I have known for a long time, but hadn’t met in person. And Wednesday night, we had dinner together. Ruth Ayres Writes (the one who really brought us all together), Write Kim Write, Elsie Tries Writing, One Grateful Teacher, A Day in the Life, Read Write Inspire, Book Savors, Sweet Writing Life, The Lead Goose, and Pen Nguyen. So really, they are Ruth, Kim, LeAnn, Michelle, Leigh Anne, Christy, Mary Helen, Jennifer, Scott and Becca. Joining us was an author friend, who I knew only from reading her books Hound Dog True, A Crooked Kind of Perfect, and The Center of Everything. (She has many more books now on my TBR list.) I already knew these friends very well from having read their words- memories, stories of every day life and life in the classroom and life as a writer, poetry, and thoughts on issues and happenings in the world. Yet new layers of knowing were created meeting them face-to-face, and I am so grateful to have them as friends. They enrich my life in an even greater way now.
I gained so much just from meeting my friends, I could have gone home happy after only that experience. Then the conference started, and I knew I was blessed to be part of something truly special. I was in the company of educators who believe in students, in the power of reading and writing, of all kinds of learning- and we were together to be challenged to think and learn together ourselves.
Ralph Fletcher, in the opening keynote, spoke to us about Power and Possibility in the Reading/Writing Classroom. You might think the author of so many books would start with his own words, but Ralph instead shared letters he has received from kids, and spoke of the privilege of writing for them. He asked us to think about energy in the classroom-When does energy go up? When does energy go down? and reminded us choice changes everything, so look for ways to bring choice back to the classroom. This just scratches the surface of the inspiration he delivered in his talk (it didn’t seem like a speech, but more like a conversation). Maybe we should have a Twitter chat to discuss it.
I wished I could attend every breakout session. It was not easy to choose, there were so many great presenters and such a wide range of topics. Every session I attended was worthwhile and offered ideas I know I can use in the coming school year. Thankfully, I heard about many I didn’t get to attend from friends who did, so I have some ideas and inspiration from those, too. Not to mention all the books recommended that I can still go to for further learning. I will save writing more about all my learning later- there is so much to reflect on and to try out, it is still in progress.
The closing keynote was awesome, with words from five fabulous educators about Finding Joy in the Journey. (I couldn’t think of a better theme, by the way.) But…Drumroll, please…the best part was, in the giveaways, I WON A FREE ALL WRITE INSTITUTE REGISTRATION!!! I’ll be back next year! Hope I’ll see you there!