Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend. - Theophrastus

As elementary educators, we need each other. Although we go to PLC's, collaborate with teammates, and chat at lunch, the majority of our time is spent in our classrooms with just our students.  Time for reflection and exploring ways to improve our practice is often swallowed up by the urgent day-to-day running of our classroom - how to rearrange the "chatty" table, where to keep the upcoming field trip permission slips, and when to run off that math assessment.  When do we get time to really talk with one another?

Last week we were honored to attend the CCIRA Conference in Denver (Colorado Council International Reading Association). It was a delightful two days spent with colleagues from across the continent.  In addition to attending the conference, we felt very privileged to present a primary and intermediate writing in-service. 

Now, presenting writing lessons to children is our strength.  I am completely comfortable in presenting new ideas to 30 wiggly kindergarteners.  Presenting ideas to 30 well-behaved colleagues is a totally different experience.  As we planned our presentations, we began with the same questions we pose to our students prior to their writing - What do you want your listener / reader to know?  How are you going to present your information?  It was a valuable learning experience for us both. After hours of thinking, writing, revising, rethinking, and re-revising, we were ready.  The audiences were extremely responsive and appreciative.  It was wonderful! Thank-you to all who attended.

Another exciting portion of the conference for us was the time we spent talking with other teachers.  No matter the grade level or the school location, we are all faced with the same challenges.  How do I squeeze all these standards into our learning day?  What are the essential lessons or concepts I want my students to grasp?  How do I engage the apathetic student while challenging the child who already knows the content?  What can I add to my teaching that will help my students improve as writers?

We encourage all of us to occasionally take a break from our routine and attend a reputable conference.  The time with friends and colleagues and the learning that takes place are essential for our professional and emotional growth as teachers.