December 13, 2011

Bookjoy at NCTE

As a former English teacher, there’s always something exciting for me about being invited to speak at NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English). I joked with the Random House team (the press that was kind enough to sponsor me) that many teens might shiver at the thought of the two Chicago hotels full of English teachers.

I had the pleasure of preparing for two programs. I say “pleasure” because I love presenting as much as I love writing and because such preparations are opportunities to think, and we all know that creating thinking time can be a challenge. I joined poet Joyce Sidman and two faculty members in offering a master class on “Poetic Voices: Writing, Reading and Responding to Poetry.” Frankly, I seldom have the opportunity to hear another writer, and I so enjoyed hearing Joyce read her fine poems and explain how a poem evolves for her. For the first time, I prepared a PowerPoint of my books of poems and rhymes in the order the books were published. In addition to reading some poems especially from Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems About Love, I asked the audience to think about what voices (and languages) are included in our poetry. I was asking: who belongs in poems and what do poets look like?

I was introduced at the Conference on English (CEL) breakfast by my friend Dr. R. Joseph Rodríguez from the University of Texas. Joseph, a dear friend, often knows my work better than I do. I struggle almost daily to find time to continue my own writing and to promote Día  and family literacy. I seldom consciously sit and think about leadership, also a topic of great interest to me. My title, “Creatively Practicing Resilience: The Zing of Bookjoy” allowed me to address some of my key themes but also to explore potential: our personal potential as leaders, the potential of the literature and literacy field, and the potential of our collaborators.

May we all be bolder and more creative leaders in 2012! Wishing you health, happiness and bookjoy.

In 1986, I was fortunate to receive a Kellogg National Leadership Fellowship, a three-year experience that greatly enriched my life. In 2001, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation published a book entitled, Leading from the Heart: The Passion to Make a Difference. My essay and its introduction are from that book. It’s interesting how many of the ideas in this piece are part of ZING! published in 2010.

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