For the first time in seven years, I am skipping the annual NCTE Conference. This year, it’s held in San Antonio, where the weather is warm–around 70 degrees. This year also marks a theme that is very relevant to my line of work and thinking: Shift Happens: Teaching in the Twenty-First Century. Scanning through the program, I see that many of the sessions concern technology and its effect on reading, literature, writing, and thinking. NCTE has rolled out a shiny new web site in conjunction with the conference, too.

All this makes me a little envious that I’m not in San Antonio. But it’s by choice: after seven consecutive years of presenting talks and organizing workshops (the ACE workshop), it felt like I need a little sabbatical from the stress of the conference. Last year’s New York conference was exhausting mentally and physically. Instead of being refreshed and invigorated by the conference, I returned depleted. I decided then to skip the conference this year.

So why do I feel like I’m missing out? If you attend a conference regularly, you’ll realize that it’s not only about the informative sessions, inspirational speakers, and fresh resources. It’s also about the people: hobnobbing or networking is one of the biggest components of a conference. I’ll miss heading out for an evening with friends after a long day of sessions, catching up on their families, career paths, and new ideas. Guess I’m feeling a little nostalgic this morning.

NCTE 2009 is in Philadelphia. Nice and cold this time of year.