What makes attending a state reading conference so special? The energy and enthusiasm. When you gather thousands of teachers who want to improve their craft you find professional conversations happening everywhere. You meet colleagues from across the state and get a chance to hear what they are doing.
Over the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity to attend and present at a number of state reading conferences, including the State of Maryland International Reading Council (SoMIRAC) and Missouri Early Learning Conference. Each time I go, I am inspired by the ideas and enthusiasm shared among the passionate, dedicated teachers who attend. In my mind, state reading conferences offer some of the best, most cost-effective and practical PD around, and I highly recommend that all teachers participate in their own state conference.
In just a few weeks, I’m going to hop in my car and drive down to Springfield, IL, to learn and share at the Illinois Reading Council Conference (IRC). The first time I presented at this conference was in 1992 when I was seven months pregnant with my daughter (who began her first year of teaching this year!). It takes a lot of preparation and planning to write sub plans, organize everything at home, and get ready to present to my colleagues, but I do it every year to give back just a smidgen of the knowledge that I’ve gained at IRC over the past two decades.
I have my Northern Illinois University professor, Pam Farris, to thank for introducing me to IRC. Over the years, I’ve tried to “pay it forward” by inviting many of my colleagues to join me on my trek to the state capital. Once they’ve been there, they are hooked and return year after year.
Just imagine: Long before Elephant and Piggie books were in every primary-grade classroom library, I saw Mo Willems draw the pigeon in a room with less than fifty people in it! You never know what amazing experiences await at these gatherings, but I can assure you that you will leave refreshed and revitalized.
So, once again, I’ll be sitting together with my fellow Illinois teachers in packed rooms to hear Dick Allington’s common sense thinking, learn about all the latest and greatest picture books from Becky Anderson Wilkins, and spend time with two of my favorite author/illustrators Steven Kellogg and Tom Lichtenheld. We’ll laugh and cry with Steven Layne and welcome many new faces to Illinois like Margo Southhall, Pam Allyn and Sharon Zinke. Now that the conference has been moved to October this year, I will have more time to implement the teaching strategies I will learn.
To help give a handful of teachers the opportunity to attend a reading conference this year, Scholastic is hosting a series of giveaways in the next few months to cover the registration fee for select upcoming conferences. Stay tuned for a chance to win a seat at your state's conference!
Today, we are offering an Illinois teacher one free registration to attend IRC on October 2-5, 2014, in Springfield, IL. (You must be an Illinois state teacher to qualify). This is a registration only—no travel or housing expenses are included. For a chance to win the registration, please leave a comment below about what you are most interested in learning about at the conference.(Must be a U.S. resident, 18 or over; complete legal rules available here.)