Back in the middle of October I attended the Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of English and Language Arts (PCTELA) 2018 Conference.  Because of other things that were happening I didn’t get a chance to write about it so this week I am.

This year the conference was held in Harrisburg which is a 50 minute ride from my house.  This made it convenient.  The co-chairs were Lynne Dorfman and Cindy Minnich so you know that the line-up of speakers and presenters would be exceptional.  They were.

Being on the Board I get to help out with the conference and I usually help man the registration table.  I enjoy greeting people as they sigh in and get their bags and programs.  It is also a good way to greet friends that I haven’t seen in a while.

Our opening speak this year was A. S. King.


If you ever get an opportunity to hear her speak I highly recommend it.

Some of the points she made:

  • “I write what I want because I want to help.”
  • “Trauma blocks learning including the ability and desire to read.”
  • “After every intruder drill have everyone write something…it doesn’t matter what.

Our second featured speaker was Ruth Ayers.



Some of the points she made:

  • “I have decided to trade what’s good for what’s best.”
  • “We can rewrite the way our stories go.”
  • “Writing workshop is essential.”

Saturday’s featured speakers included Shawna Coppolla and Kate Egan Cunningham.


Besides talking about using Nursery Rhymes and Greek Mythology (both of which I used when I was still teaching) Shawna posed an interesting question:

“Do our practices reflect the stories we want to tell our students?”

Kate followed up by talking about the importance of stories in our lives and our learning.  Some interesting quotes:

  • “There is so much we can learn about students from their daily 5 minute journal entries.”
  • “Our lives are stories in the making.”
  • “Stories are remembered 22 times more than facts.”

One of the perks of being on the PCTELA Board is that on Friday evening I get to attend a dinner with our featured speakers.  Although A.S.King was not there, all of the other speakers were.  What a great experience.

Our lunch speaker on Saturday was Kelly Lyons Starling.



Some words of wisdom from Kelly:

  • “Find a time to write each day.”
  • “Believe you can do it. “
  • “Break a big assignment into smaller parts.”
  • “Write anything.”
  • “Cut off the phone and turn off the TV.”
  • “Say no.”
  • “Keep a dream book.”
  • “Reward yourself.”
  • “Surround yourself with doers.”

Add to these wonderful speakers many interesting breakout sessions and you have PCTELA 2018.  Thank you Lynne and Cindy.




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7 responses to “PCTELA 2018

  1. Terje

    You had a chance to listen to Ruth! She is one of my heroes. Time spent at that conference is a time spent well.

  2. Fun to read your important points and words of wisdom from the speakers. Thanks for sharing

  3. A. S. King is one of my favorite YA authors!
    “After every intruder drill have everyone write something…it doesn’t matter what.” We did some journalling yesterday.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing some of the highlight quotes from this conference. It sounds like a wonderful experience! I still need to get my NCTE notes out of my notebook and into a blog post. It’s fun to revisit the experience all over again by rereading my notes.

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