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When Your Superintendent Asks Why You Want to Go to the IRA Conference

by Mary Lou Benesch
April 17, 2014

My superintendent recently asked me why I needed to go to New Orleans, so I prepared something for him and for all of you who are still on the fence about going to New Orleans. 

Top 10 Reasons to Go to the International Reading Association Conference in New Orleans:

Rafe Esquith
Rafe Esquith

Joan Moser and Gail Boushey
Gail Boushey and Joan Moser

Mary Pope Osborne
Mary Pope Osborne

  1. I am a “PROFESSIONAL.” As a professional elementary teacher, it is important for me to know the latest research and trends to better help me teach my students. I have learned so much from my attendance at the conference that I can share with my fellow teachers. I’ve brought back with me tons of ideas to share and books I have purchased or gotten free. The school needs to support a teacher willing to take time for their professional growth.
  2. General Session speakers are very motivational. I am looking forward to hearing Rafe Esquith (who was dubbed by Washington Post as “the World’s Most Famous Teacher”), authors Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid series) and Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants series), and literacy researcher P. David Pearson.
  3. Featured Speakers—The two “Daily Five” sisters, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser are back. Yeah! I always enjoy listing to MaryEllen Vogt (English Language Learners), and Timothy Rasinski (reading strategies).
  4. Teaching Edge workshops with Debbie Diller (literacy work stations), Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey (Close Reading and Writing), and Kelly Gallagher (“Teaching Students to Read Like Writers”).
  5. The Exhibit Hall—It takes me at least a half a day and many short trips to go through the Exhibit Hall, talk to vendors, get as many samples as I want, and sign up for door prizes and samples. Free books are abundant. Authors autographing my favorite books is a must. Mini-workshops are available on various subjects by the top vendor presenters. Demonstrations are going on for new technology. I love to talk to the spokespeople that publish the texts I use to find out what is new and how to better teach the material.
  6. Workshops, institutes, symposiums, and poster sessions—My fellow Advisory Committee of Teachers (ACT) members will be presenting a workshop on Saturday, May 10. Stop by for a meet and greet, learn what we are doing in our classrooms, and find out what ACT is all about. There are lots of other sessions on any and all subjects. I want to go to some on technology. Use the iPlanner (a great tool) and plan your day accordingly.
  7. Meeting lots of teachers from all over the globe. I got to meet my good friend and fellow ACT member from Kenya, Africa, Margaret Muthiga.
  8. Come on, it’s New Orleans! I want to taste beignets, po-boys, and maybe (NOT!) gumbo and crawfish. I want to go on a swamp tour, a tour of the cemetery, and see what the French Quarter is all about.
  9. Author luncheon—I am going to listen to one of my favorite authors, Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House series). I remember turning my second grade students on to her books. Boy, were they excited!
  10. Summer of 2015 and the next International Reading Association Conference in St. Louis. It is summer, and I won’t be missing any school. We are planning and packing a big van with lots of teachers and road tripping to St. Louis.

The International Reading Association 59th Annual Conference will be held Friday, May 9 through Monday, May 12, 2014 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. Visit www.iraconference.org for conference details or to register. 

May Lou Benesch

Mary Lou Benesch, a member of the Advisory Committee of Teachers, is a Title 1 teacher at Howells-Dodge Consolidated Schools. She is past president of the Nebraska State Reading Association, and currently serves as president for her local, East Central Nebraska Reading Council, mbenesch@esu7.org

Teaching in ACTion is a series from the Advisory Committee of Teachers (ACT), an International Reading Association committee comprised of exemplary reading and literacy teachers from around the world. Educators who best exemplify the mission of IRA are chosen from a pool of applicants to serve a three-year term. Among other responsibilities, the main charge of ACT is to be the conduit between IRA’s members and the board of directors. 

ACT invites member to engage in the conversation by sending responses to us. ACT’s goal is to get a feel for how members feel about current hot topics, so that we may better serve members by sharing their concerns with the board of directors. 

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