In her invitation to the bloggers today, Lainie quotes Kwame Alexander:
Words have the power to really help us take in the world around us, understand it, see it then be able to react to it, make it better, imagine it in a different way.-Kwame Alexanderqtd. in Two Writing Teachers blog
In my quest for what to write after a BIG weekend, I take Lainie’s cue. I relied on Kwame’s wisdom last Saturday when I presented at the Fall Conference I had been planning for the Oregon Council of Teachers of English (OCTE).
“Transformation: The Power of Poetry” opened with this:”If you want a student to be moved by poetry, then you must share poetry with which you (and they) connect on an emotional level.” (The Write Thing by Kwame Alexander)
The last concurrent session was my slot and at the end of the conference day. Board members were given those spots because we were committed to stay throughout. During lunch, a fellow end-of-day presenter said, “Well, each session has its challenges.” Ours would be having a crowd, as it was clear that many had already left by 1:50.
Here’s the thing: I have lots to say about almost anything teaching, BUT I am not a strong, relaxed presenter. I am working on it since I want to improve, and improvement begins with self-awareness. I struggle with parameters—what to leave in, what to take out? I want to do it all!
The end of the day though was a sweet spot for me. This conference I had agonized over for more than a year was successful. No, it wasn’t a huge crowd—people still hesitate to gather, online habits endure, and are still requiring a full weekend to recharge—but those who attended were enthusiastic and engaged, many of them training to become ELA teachers. The energy was palpable—and I was pumped.
I could, finally, relax. Presentation? Yup, I can. For the first time, I had real FUN with my group. Kwame had set up the discussion about reading and playing with poetry as consumers, then writing it as creators. Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Kindness” let us share: reading our favorite lines aloud; reading together aloud in a chorus; acting out lines—which line am I?
We brainstormed abstract nouns and action verbs; we paired them to create personification. Confidence swaggered into the room/strutted up to the front/turned to face the crowd/scanned the faces /and smiled without breaking/a sweat.
Funny we chose confidence. It was the first time as a presenter I had actually felt it!
(Thanks to those wonderful committee members and attendees who made that day a success!)