I’ve been to NCTE before, so I knew what to expect: fevered English teachers looking to keep the fire for education burning. Indeed, this past weekend, I watched as they moved from session to session, sharing notes, tweeting awesomeness, and when they had time, eating food and stopping by the booths for educational materials and author signings.
It was, again, a beautiful event to be a part of. Even as I walked along the Potomac outside the convention center, teachers sat and discussed, saying things like, “I needed this so much.” “I am just recharged from all this energy.”
NCTE does a phenomenal job of having a precise focus, but then creating sessions that unpack that focus from a thousand angles. “Story as the Landscape of Knowing” was, again, perfect. All life is story. And so why shouldn’t we teach through story methods, regardless of what we are approaching? And NCTE answered just how to do that on so many levels, that I guarantee students across the country are going to be sitting up in classrooms on Monday, post-Thanksgiving sleepiness ripped away by teachers prepared to get down to the business of storytelling.
Good luck boys and girls 🙂
And then there was ALAN, which I had never been to, but now understand that I am ALAN (sorry, inside joke). This was another phenomenal collection of educators and authors, brought together to celebrate and explore all aspects of Young Adult literature.
Fortunately, I was invited to be on a panel with James McMullen, Jason Reynolds, and Andrew Smith, discussing male adolescence. As nerve-wracking as it was to be onstage with such titans, I found the crowd of educators supportive and eager to hear from us. That reinforced all that NCTE had just proclaimed, and drove home the point for me, of how we are all ambassadors for YA. Or, more aptly, Ambad-assadors. Because the educators and authors all had swagger. Because we all have a purpose: to demonstrate the power and importance of Young Adult literature.
I am still feeling the euphoric aftermath of such exposure to intense belief. And it’s wonderful. As an author and as an educator, I have always believed that story is everything. Stories we read, stories we tell others, and especially the stories we tell ourselves shape everything: who we are, who we want to be, and who we will become. The beauty is the evolution of such stories, and the ability to explore the narratives that are accepted, and then blow them away with something new. That is bad-ass.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, I know when asked by my family, “What are you thankful for?” I will easily be able to say, “For story.”
Thank you to all the amazing ambassadors of YA I met this weekend. You are doing amazing work. Never lose sight of the fact that you are forging readers and learners, who, with their stories, will do unbelievable things. What a beautiful piece of this narrative we live.