About the CCIRA Reading Conference
Each year, the annual CCIRA reading conference in Denver attracts between 2,500 – 6,000 educators from across the United States. Over 500 presentations are offered – from local no-name teachers like me to dozens of world famous authors from all over the world. It’s a fun and exciting event that provides great professional development and bonding among colleagues. When the online registration opened up in fall, my session was one of the first 10 to fill up, just as the previous two years I offered it. I never would have imagined what would happen to me this year.
A Vendor with No Financial Plan?
What made this year different from the rest was my decision to invest in a vendor booth for GettingBoysToRead.com. Needless to say, it was quite a leap of faith, especially without a plan to make any money from the web site. When I arrived in the Vendor room, I kept doubting if my time and money was justified, especially the time away from my family.
An Overwhelming Emotional Surprise
My presentation was scheduled early Thursday morning, just one hour after the conference began. After only ten minutes into my presentation, an amazing thing happened to me. I had been explaining my reading difficulties as a young boy. I shared how my reading excitement was squashed by the lack of knowledge and understanding of the adults in my life. When I described how close I came to dropping out of high school, a realization hit me like a ton of bricks: If my reading interests would have been respected and nurtured, I would have grown up with self confidence as a reader. I realized, in front of everyone, that my entire academic career was greatly influenced by my teachers’ lack of understanding.
Crying Like a Baby
As I stood in front of 100 teachers, I suddenly envisioned them as the adults of my childhood. I variety of emotions overcame me all at once – frustration, anger, resentment, sadness. I didn’t want them to continue the pattern! It was more than I could bear, I tried to speak, but my feelings exploded like a volcanoe waiting decades to erupt. Here I was, a grown 38 year old man, standing in front of a room full of people crying like a little baby.
45 Seconds of Torture
Each time I tried to speak I was overcome with emotion. It took almost 45 seconds of silence until I was able to speak again. After I gathered myself, I had a rejuvinated passion and a very attentive audience. I didn’t care about the thousands of dollars I spent on the website and vender booth. The months and months of late night hours had been worth it.
A Rejuvenated Passion
Of course I did not intend for this to happen, but the result made a big impression with the audience. I think that is also when I realized why I started all of this – to educate parents and teachers and to make a difference for the thousands of boys, just like me, that they influnce each day. After that realization, the rest of the time in my vendor booth was energy filled and worry free!