I have been participating and attending the International Literacy Association (ILA) conference since 2013. In that time, I have seen tremendous change. Beyond the name and branding change, I have been very impressed with how ILA has reached out to educators who are in classrooms and schools to determine the future trajectory of this international organization. As a participant, seeing how teachers’ voices have driven change has been remarkable and filled me with hope for the future.
In a time when more and more teachers are pursuing free avenues of professional growth, ILA has embraced the changing needs of teachers by providing opportunities such as Twitter chats and Edcamp Literacy where participants can drive their own learning. By pairing participant-driven learning with formal sessions, as well as exciting interactive Putting Books to Work workshops and current event panels that do not require special ticketing, ILA provides teachers with the best possible blending of professional learning.
In my experience, this year’s program is the strongest one to date. From EdcampLiteracy to the highly engaging and relevant general sessions speakers, to the panels filled with passionate educators and authors, to the formal sessions, I have walked away with tools, strategies, ideas, and a renewed passion for teaching from every single opportunity, something that I can’t say of many professional learning events.
As a veteran educator, it brings me hope for the future of literacy education to see an emphasis on sound and current educational trends while remaining grounded in best practices in literacy education. With a focus on recognizing phenomenal young educators in The 30 Under 30, it demonstrates that ILA has their eyes on the future by recognizing the work of young educators.
So as I head home, I feel incredibly grateful to ILA for providing all of these opportunities to me and all the other participants. My head is full of ideas, my heart is full of love for teaching, my bag is full of great new books, and my pocket is full of new connections….and I was able to add an ILA17 button to my collection.
With my new wand in hand, I want to extend a sincere thank you. When teachers, authors, and professional organizations work together hand-in-hand, I believe anything is possible. And isn’t that what all of our students deserve?
Julie D. Ramsay, NBCT