Monday, November 28, 2011

Invasion of the English Teachers

If you happened to be in Chicago the week before Thanksgiving... I'm sorry.  If you were, you may have seen throngs of middle-aged women wearing seasonal sweater vests and wooden jewelry while dragging rolling crates full of books and correcting people's grammar.  No, you weren't in the midst of a mom convention.  You were in the midst of an English teachers convention!!!   If you have ever been knocked down by a zealous teacher carrying a 100 pound book bag, I apologize on the behalf of our profession.  Moving on.

Last week, thousands of English teachers descended upon Chicago for the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Annual Convention.  Nerd alert!!  Nothing like four days full of learning and fighting crowds of educators!  This was my fourth convention, and I attended with my best buddies Emily Shisler and Jessica Cook.  Emily is my better half.  She manages high school English across YES Prep, and I manage middle school English.  High schoolers intimidate me.  Little kids terrify her.  So, we're a match made in heaven.  She and I are equally nerdy and love to learn about English, so she makes a good convention partner.  Jess teaches high school English at NC, and she completes the group with her similar nerdy desire to learn and her dry humor that keeps us laughing.  I had the BEST time with both of them.  As an added bonus, Emily grew up in Chicago and went to college at Northwestern.  Neither Jess nor I had ever been to the city, so Emily acted as our tour guide and made sure that in between sessions we ate the best food Chicago had to offer and saw all of the sights.

We stayed at the Palmer House which was pretty ordinary in terms of hotel rooms, but the lobby was impressive.  The beautiful hand-painted ceiling and ornate furnishings made it a really cool place to hang out...  except for the fact that there were approximately one thousand teachers there every night drinking after a long day of learning.  Yikes!
Of course we walked through Millennium Park and took pictures at the bean.  Here is Emily acting as our tour guide and telling us the notable features of many Chicago buildings.
I just wanted to show off my new hat complete with a pom-pom and mittens complete with tassels.  Thanks, H&M.
We went to the 95th floor of the Hancock Tower, the Signature Lounge, at exactly the right moment.  The sun was setting, there was a free table by the window, and they served excellent cosmos.  Yes, please.  We hadn't been to a single convention session yet, but we still needed a cosmo.  Obviously.
There's the tour guide again, getting in the way of my beautiful picture (just kidding!)

Looking down the lake shore towards Northwestern, Emily's alma mater.
I think this looks like a honeymoon in Hawaii picture with the sunset.  Don't you? 
Here's my honeymoon pic with Emily.
After drinks, we headed to eat (what else?) deep dish pizza.  It didn't disappoint.  We ate half of the pizza before thinking to take a picture if that tells you anything.
The next day we had a 45 minute break for lunch in between sessions, so we hopped in a cab per Emily's suggestion and headed towards Portillo's for some Italian beef and/or Chicago hot dogs.  We all opted for the Italian beef, and we weren't sorry.  Until about an hour later when we wanted to nap instead of learn.  But that's beside the point.
The second night we got to have dinner with my very bestest long-lost YES Prep friend Lora Knapp.  She was my team teacher back in the day (good times), and now she lives a high powered life in Chicago recruiting for TFA and living in a chic high rise.  We had a great time catching up! 
I PROMISE that we really did go to sessions, and I really did learn a lot about teaching and supporting teachers and ideas for PD and all that jazz.  Promise.  It's just not really exciting to post pictures of a ballroom full of teachers watching a power point.  If you're interested, email me and we'll chat.  :-)  Heads up.... next year NCTE is in VEGAS!!!!  Clear the way for rolling crates in the casinos, 'cause we're comin' with thousands of our best teacher friends!  Teachers in Vegas.... wow.  That should be incentive enough to follow my blog for another year so you can see what happens....  I'll report it faithfully.

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