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Thursday, November 17, 2005

So Many First!


Writing teachers sure know how to pack a day. Since this was my first trip to Pittsburgh I took the hotel clerk's advice and I started my day early so I could take the Wyndham Hotel 7:30 AM shuttle downtown to the David Lawrence Convention Center, where I was scheduled in a great session on Starting, Developing, and Enriching Inservice Programs. However, to my dismay the driver informed me that he wouldn't be taking any riders downtown until later in morning because he needed to shuttle people that were interested in getting places in the Oakland area first. I am making a note here ... register for a hotel for NWP earlier next year. Preferably in a hotel closer to the convention center. By 8:00 AM the other NWP attendee and I agreed to try the busline. We asked for advice from some friendly folks here on the streets of Pittsburgh and made our way downtown. We had to make one bus switch; then $1.75 and 50 minutes later we arrived at the conference center.

Following the morning session my head was swimming with ideas and possiblities for RCWP future inservices. We heard from three great lead sites, processed, and wrote about our own site's inservice progress through poetry. Yes, poetry. It was awesome! I pulled out my ipod to catch some of the great conversations only to discover that it wasn't working. My "first" that didn't work out. I will try again tomorrow.

There is nothing quite like the hum of teachers as the flood into the hallway following a session where they have had time to connect and share with colleagues. And, it is always a challenge to locate and make connections with friends.

Nina, Dawn, and I fought the wintry winds as we looked for a place to eat lunch. Although the food was great, the company and the conversation was richer. It is in talking that my thinking become clearer. We might have lingered longer except for our desire to head back to our afternoon sessions.

What Does It Mean to Look at Leaders and Leadership Capacity Across Urban, Suburban, and Rural Writing Project Sites? I was wishing many of you would have been sitting beside me during this session. There was ... there still is, so much to ponder. Who do we see as leaders in our site? Where do our leaders come from (i.e. places, groups, constituencies, gender,etc)? Where does our site offer entry points for site leadership? Who is missing from our leadership table? Whose voices are needed to bring new perspectives to our leadership table? What actions can we take to build our capacity for bringing those voices to the table? What is our strategic plan to increase site capacity for building diverse leadership? I took lots of notes and would love to hear your thoughts.

More first: Sightseeing in Pittsburg. On our walk over to the Omni William Penn Hotel Ninna, Cathy, Tara, Dawn and I spotted a quaint little courtyard and went in to explore. The establishment sign on the door noted the Pittsburgh HPY Club. Just as we were about to leave the receptionist invited us in and shared the history of the club. I wish I had access to my digital pictures so I could share a picture of our discovery. Further down the street Ninna showed us a beautiful, historic church ... more pictures here too.

We arrived at the Omni cold, but invigorated, and headed to the 17th floor to socialize and network with National Writing Project TCs from across the nation. I met Carlin two years ago at just such an event in San Fransisco and now she is here as a RCWP TC. Yea! This year I met Richard Sterling ... a big first. Please check out Dawn, Ninna, and Troy's podcast of his interview.

Hunger and exhaustion were approaching so Paul, Toby and I set our sights on another historical spot, The Original Oyster House. Established in 1870 it's walls showcased photos acrossed the decades. Look for Paul's podcast: An interview.

Another first for me ... heading back to Wyndham, by myself, wanting to prove mass transit is practical. I boarded two wrong busses (I thought they were the right ones). I spent too many cold minutes waiting for the wrong busses. I made it onto a bus that was heading in the wrong direction, but would eventually take me to Oakland and stop near my hotel.

This ends my first day and my first blog from the NWP Convention in Pittsburgh.



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