#SOL14: “You can’t always get what you want . . .”

Rolling Stones






If you are interested in a bit of nostalgia (AKA classic rock), you can listen and watch the following video.

 “So what’s up with the song?  Those lyrics are pretty darn old!”

#NCTE14 hosted a twitter chat for “first time attendees” early in the convention week.  I took much of the advice to heart:

“Wear comfortable shoes!” (Go Walks by Skechers ~ Thank you, friend Katie!)

“Download the convention app! (Done)

“Watch for Twitter PLN members!” (Thank you for initiating many conversations!)

“Plan for multiple sessions in case you can’t get into your first choice session.” (I had multiple choices for Thursday and Friday – before I left home. That took me through our presentation time.)

But I didn’t really believe that I would not ” get into my session” once I made my final choice.  It was my first trip to NCTE, but I have attended IRA multiple years and even the World Literacy Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2002.

Imagine my shock when I didn’t get into my first session choice or my last session choice.

Bummed!  Yes!

I assumed that due to the notoriety of the speakers, the presentation would be in a ballroom at least.  Not so!  Small room! Full room!  Some chairs were eventually brought in and a few others were allowed in to sit on the floor.

The door guard was adamant about observing the “fire code” rules.

I knew I was missing out.  I sat on the floor and logged into wi-fi and hopped onto TweetDeck on my pc.  It was soooooooo slow.

Plan B:  I closed my Dell and pulled out my iPad.  Mumbling a bit because I had not brought my keyboard for my iPad, I waited for it to fire up and to get connected.  Even three columns of Tweet Deck was slow. . . .wow . . . Home . . . #NCTE14 . . . Notifications.  Three columns.  “C’mon on. This is ridiculous!”

I often live by data. (Sorry!  I know that is shocking!)  But 140 character tweets were “averaging” three minutes to send.  Connectivity was not a strength of the convention center.  Without a calculator that meant approximately 50 characters sent per minute! .  .  . .  SSSSSSSLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

By this time, I had been asked:

  • “Who is in that room?”
  • “Is that really a line for people trying to get in?”
  • “How do I get to the parking garage?”

and I really had little to do BUT answer questions.  (I was sorry, though, as I had no clue where the parking garage was as I had no vehicle and was not staying in the Gaylord Convention Center hotel!)

Plan C:  I closed my iPad and pulled out my personal Mac Air Book that was my reliable all day lightweight tech friend for two weeks of Writing and Reading Institutes at #TCRWP last summer.  Another series of log ins in order to connect to the wireless for NCTE. Password in. Tweetdeck up on Google Chrome.

Nope. Frozen.

Google Chrome was frozen.

No tweeting . . .

Plan D: ?#!/(*?

So what did I do?

As the song says, “Sometimes you get what you need!”

I took advantage of my first gift of time.  I was the first of the 5 of us on our panel to arrive and I had volunteered to make sure we had “tech” so I decided to use time wisely and:

1) check out the room for our presentation – hmmm, table set in center, not set in rows of chairs . . . . . looking small . . . room located!

2) check out how well technology worked and preview our google presentations (3) and pdf formats (2).  Google was sssssssllllllllloooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwww!  My presentation (heavy on pics) did not load.  I tried Julieanne’s.  After about 15 minutes, all but four pages had loaded.  Technology was not cooperating very well.  However (glass half full), it’s only Thursday and I have more than 24 hours to come up with a plan!

The plan for converting from google presentation to an offline format worked (combo of pcs and Macs) so we went with PDFs in a common google folder (not everyone had Office so powerpoint download was not going to work).

Reality:  Not getting into my first Thursday session meant that I had the information that I needed in order to scope out our presentation room, check out weak tech and devise a work around and check into our hotel room before the next session.  The sun, earth and moon continued to revolve and rotate as they always do. . . Life was good!

Sunday afternoon session:

What I wanted:  To attend the Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle session on Voices in Democracies on Sunday.

However, the doors were closed and once again the doorkeeper was not allowing anyone in. (One poor teacher who had entered earlier, left her bags on her chair, and then gone to the restroom was ALMOST denied re-entrance!)

So instead, I went to a poetry session.  It was fabulous.  Multiple poets and teachers  shared student writing that made us laugh and cry.  Mary Lee, Catherine, Cornelius, Katie. . . were all there.  Words, images, and voices filled my soul!

I still had books to pack to ship home.  I decided this gift of poetry from the heart would be my last session.

Reality:  Poetry, and the power of words, was one theme of #NCTE14. It fit in with the “Be Kind” theme from Lester, Colleen, and James Howe where “laughter meant learning was taking place”! I had time to hang out and chat a bit with my roomie as she packed up to leave. Another gift of time.  Time to chat about our learning and our plans to use that learning.


Rolling Stones





When have you gotten what you needed instead of what you wanted?

What’s your story?

Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy for creating a place for us to work collaboratively.

20 responses

  1. So fun to re live those moments at NCTE with your (and Mick’s) words. No you can’t always get what you want. But.. (they are called oldies but goodies for a reason) … you get what you need! It was a blessing all the scouting work you did at NCTE.

    And… I loved seeing Mick looking like less of an oldie.

    1. Julieanne,

      I really had a long list last night and planned on a quick slice, but I was mesmerized by the number of videos when I googled “lyrics You can’t always get what you want”. And then I really needed some story elements . . . a bit of suspense . . . so I was hooked!

      So fun to “tell stories” . . . not in love with narratives YET. . . but able to write them without fear!!! Thank you, SOL14!

  2. What a perfect way to look at this experiences! I so appreciate your perspective!! So glad you were able to trouble shoot for your session and I’m so bummed I missed it! Thanks for sharing, Fran. I always enjoy your posts!

    1. Michelle,
      It was so good to meet you at NCTE! Now, so many “Slicers” are extra special because I know you!

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. Reading about your hurdles and finds, highs and lows, made me smile. Really wish I could have been there (or my body double could have been there while I was here where I needed to be.)

    1. Lisa,
      There were times when I was wishing I was split 2 or 3 ways because so many great sessions were simultaneously scheduled, but that didn’t happen.

      Looking forward to “seeing you” soon!

      Happy Holidays!

  4. Fran,
    I am home today, writing and reading from bed, when I can focus….

    You always inspire me. I am thrilled to have found you (dare I say ‘met’ you?) via Slice and TWT? Each week, I look forward to seeing what you’re up to, and I’ve taken your advice to heart. My own two books are continuing to get their shapes shaped and ideas clarified – now more than ever.

    This week: Wow! You are a tech-savvy guru. LOVE it! And yes, I believe we do get what we need …. IF we’re wiling to sloooooow down (sometimes by other forces ~ wink ~) and watch for what’s coming. You reminded us beautifully this week.

    In my pursuit to transition my teaching role-turned PD role-turned teaching role (infused with my writing role) into the next chapter (literally and figuratively), I slow down to wait (actively), watch, and listen….

    It’s interesting to read how voluminous the NCTE conference is, compared to others. I’ve been to IRA a few times (years ago), and a few others locally. Orlando = big conference town and my residence! To hear NCTE is even busier…. wow!

    Have a wonderful week,

    1. Robin,
      There is so much in life and in education that we can miss if our “gums are flapping” so I am fortunate that I can now easily concede that I have “no intention of knowing it all.” Slowing down and “shutting up” has been hard.

      Learning to listen to understand and not to respond has been another huge and long learning journey for me.

      Good thing this is all about continuous learning. Otherwise I have definitely spent too long on the wrong paths!

      Thanks for commenting!

  5. Fran, I know exactly what presentation you’re talking about on Thursday. I ran like the wind from my room down the block to the convention center, ran through the registration hall to grab a program, and ran to the room. I waited in line and got in, standing room only. Ugh.

    You were smart to use your time wisely and uncover the tech glitches. You got just what you needed. 🙂

    1. Dana,

      I can honestly say that my work has never ever been caught up so there is always something to do or double check! I knew many in the room and was jealous when I read their tweets until I realized that I had their tweets so I did have some learning. . .

      And yep, just what I needed! Worked out perfectly! Just not Plan A. So like REAL life!

      Thanks, Dana!

  6. Thanks for that video – I’ve got a bit more pep now! NCTE was all about figuring out and making adjustments. I missed out on some “must see’s” but wound up meeting and learning from people I did not know. As your post so beautifully illustrates, a positive attitude goes a long way.

    1. Tara,

      Life is all about adjustments. So glad that no one was belligerent, many patiently waited in line and proposed a multitude of “fixes”. I just wanted in to “Zoom” broadcast it into an adjacent / overflow room.

      I love the “ticketing” that IRA does for many of its big name sessions – makes it easier to adjust the room size in advance if 500 people request a certain topic or presenter and the room occupancy was listed at “112”!

      Positively, I made more of an effort to make sure that I made it to the elementary session to hear Margaret’s acceptance speech so I really did go full circle – poetry to begin and end!


  7. I loved NCTE, but the tech was a problem all weekend long. I had sort of repressed that aspect until you just reminded me! I’m guessing that I was in the same line as you were in, and I wound up in a second or third choice, but I wound up meeting a couple of people I might not have run into otherwise. If you try sometimes…

    1. Rats, I should have skipped that! I was going to write something semi-light-hearted, but two hours later last night I was still digging into this.

      I was ever hopeful, Melanie! Hope didn’t work this time but did allow me to get some work done!

      As for the tech, I’m guessing that most folks did not have as many devices as me . . . but if everyone had at least one, and then half the people had a second one. . . hmm. . . I did not have a visual on how many had paper and notebooks but I do remember one slicer who did not have a writing utensil! LOL

      “These times they are a-changin-!”

  8. Fran, you took an upbeat slant on the problems of tech as you searched for solutions. I laughed and agreed with your as I read through the blog. I did not even notice that there were glitches encountered when your group presented. It’s all good in the end and it really is about the learning and the friendships made that override the issues.

    1. Carol,
      It was such a pleasure to meet you at NCTE. And as you said, “it really is about the learning and the friendships.”

      We were lucky that I only had one glitch as Steve began with the view of the document. Everything that we presented was from pdfs but it worked! I was happy and relieved that we were done with that on Friday!

  9. Love your glass half full attitude! It is true that we need to be open to change … sometimes it is just what we need. It was wonderful to connect with you. I have my Keep Calm magnet right here with me as I write!

    1. Tammy,

      What is the REAL thing? It’s all about the learning and how we use our reading and writing to help further our learning. My two favorite magnets are the Keep Calm ones and the “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” ones. Making a mountain out of a molehill only causes more problems and unfortunately also removes many possible solutions! Life is too short to only focus on the problems!

      It was so great to connect with both of you. Now when I read your book I can actually hear it in your voices! YAY!

  10. This was an awesome post. I’m so excited that NCTE will be in the Midwest next year. I will hopefully be able to make it work! I’ll have to book mark this post and download this song for future reference, if it works out! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Kendra!

      2015 will be a great year for the Midwest. IRA in July in St. Louis and NCTE in November in Minneapolis!


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