NCTE Aftertaste

Here’s a 6:18 video of my trip to New York City and the National Council for Teachers of English conference:

This little video is an unusual project for me because it’s very much a mixture of my “official” and my “unofficial” lives. Of course, conferences tend to be spaces where there is inevitably a blending of serious/scholarly things (giving papers, attending sessions, etc.) and not-so-serious/friendly things (cocktails with colleagues in the field, dinners, travel, touring, etc.). Anyway, since our session was about film/video making and writing, I thought I’d give it a shot.

I had a very mixed experience at the conference, frankly. On the one hand, I thought our panel was fantastic– great people, everyone was super-duper prepared, everyone had really interesting projects, everyone was really really smart and cool and all the rest, etc., etc. As I said in my NCTE prelude post, I went into this panel kind of as an accident and as a result of the CSW movie I made. I mean, I didn’t have that much specific interest in making movies, certainly not as a writing teacher. But I came out of this session really jazzed about the possibilities I saw from my fellow presenters, about diving into FinalCut Pro (or Express) and trying my hand at Garage Band, etc.

And I also had excellent “not-so-serious/friendly” activities at the conference. I got to hang out with my former colleague and still fantastic friend Annette S. a bit, I met a new bunch of people, I had a great dinner and great conversation with folks from the computer and writing world, Doug Eyman, Mike Palmquist, and Nick Carbone. Not to mention tourism in New York.

But on the whole, I’ve got to say that NCTE is not really my conference.

First off, we only had about 10 or so people in the audience. Now, normally, that wouldn’t be that big of a deal to me– I mean, let’s face it, that’s kind of par for the course at most conference presentations. But we were a “Featured Presentation,” we had an ideal time slot, and we had a hot topic– or so we thought. The only guess I have as to why the crowd was so small was because NCTE really is mostly about K-12, and those folks just aren’t interested in things like making movies in writing classes.

Second, the facility where this was being held was a problem. The amenities were, um, incomplete. We did a lot of planning via email before this session, and one of the concerns many in the group had was what sort of sound system we would have– or not have. Pete Vandenberg saved us on that score by bringing along a great system. We had assumed all along that we were covered with a projector to show the movies, but it turned out the projector the NCTE folks were prepared to provide was of the overhead variety. Fortunately, we did not have perform our movies; I brought a projector along from school as a plan B. I could go on, though I think this is whiny enough. All I’m saying is that if conferences like the NCTE (or the CCCCs, for that matter) actually want to give opportunities to presenters to talk about technology, they need to provide some basic technology.

But enough complaining. I had fun, I made it home, I’m ready for this coming week. Sort of.

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