Today I leave for two days at a conference of the Council of English Teachers. This is only slightly less cool than a conference of the Council of the Jedi.  Slightly, because Yoda will not be in attendance.

Most teachers I know are a little cynical about conferences.  In fact, though the school was willing to fund this one, I was the only one from our department who wanted to go.  Yes, it's wonderful to get a free hotel, meals and transportation to another city (Philadelphia, in this case -- the above is my youngest attempt at pronunciation, which I still think is better) and you can explore on your own while you're not in sessions.  Who wouldn't like a free vacation, even a working one?

Even more than that, though, I love the atmosphere of a conference.  For a couple of days, you're completely immersed in your subject.  You get to hear from more talented people about more interesting experiences (and more of them, period) than yours.  Everything seems possible there; you find yourself dreaming up ideas for new projects, involved in discussions with like-minded people about ideas and plans that, you hope, will make a difference.

And they do make a difference.  I am still implementing ideas (the vocabulary blog was one) from the last conference I attended two years ago.  There were also many things I intended to do and didn't (mostly, people I promised to e-mail that I never followed through with,) but that's inevitable.  The important thing is that the ideas were, and still are, active.

I've found this to be true about all kinds of conferences.  It's one reason I try to attend the Sacred Music Institute every year -- if only to commiserate with other church musicians who have similar frustrations and need to recharge, like me.  I get new music to try out and work on.  I get to sing with brilliant, talented musicians.  I realize, again, why I'm in this ministry, and I'm inspired to go on for another year.

So it promises to be a fun couple of days, and of course it will be even more fun because my husband (the Master of Fun) is coming along.  You'll probably hear more about it for the next week or so . . . stay tuned!