This weekend was our Waging WAR for Literacy conference for teens. It went off without a hitch thanks to the efforts of volunteers and presenters alike . Here are 10 things I learned from the conference.
1. There's no such thing as writer's block. Keynote speaker, author Andrew Smith, made this comment in his opening address and I agree with him. This was one of the quotes that stuck with kids the most,too.
2. Cell phones are art machines. Andrew's point was that cell phones shouldn't be machines that isolate but machines that allow us to create. He went on to show how he could compose music, write, draw, record and so many other things on this crazy machine. It was perfect.
3. Kids will come, but we must feed them. In an effort to shave time off our schedule, we opted to forego serving lunch and dismiss at 1:00. However, in reading the post surveys food was mentioned....a lot. Ok, we get the message...
4. Sessions should be shorter/longer. I think this depends on the student who said it. Granted, some kids came because they could get extra credit. However, others came because they were genuinely interested. Maybe not offering bonus points is the ticket.
5. Don't always trust booksellers to show up on time. We sold books at the conference. Well, not us but a vendor. The author was scheduled to sign books before his keynote, which he did, but the line was small because kids were waiting to buy books.
6. Be flexible. Because #5 happened we switched things around and everything worked out.
7. Have a great co-leader and team. The crew who works to put this on is amazing. Especially my co-leader Jodi. She is a rock star. I'm a better person because of what I learn from her.
8. Invite Andrew Smith back ! He was an incredible author who connected with the students and did a terrific job in leading his breakout sessions. And nice? I think the word was coined about him.
9. Don't look further than your colleagues for quality presenters. The teachers in my district are consummate professionals. And funny. And good teachers. Book dating, social media, finding your voice, and so many more. When Andrew Smith complemented us on a terrific conference, I thought of the quality of teachers who were there. Outstanding.
10. Good things come out of the Twin Cities. Two of our popular session teachers drove in from the Cities in dire weather (well, for one, at least). Poet Joe Davis did a brilliant job of engaging and empowering kids while NFL social media content guy Alex Dorner wowed kids with his information and ability to write in 40 seconds.
This was a great conference. One of the best. Someone asked me why we do it--the conference is a lot of work. My reply? We do it because it can make all the difference.