There’s toilet paper streaming from the trees in my front yard, chalk paint covering car windows all over town, and long-lost familiar faces wandering the streets. It’s homecoming season. First the high schools, then colleges will cycle through the time of year when we go back to our roots, celebrate the places that made us, and reunite with the people who hold space in our hearts, if not in our daily lives. And while I do allow myself to get swept away in the enthusiasm of Homecoming in my district, and reminisce about my alma mater from a distance, there’s one homecoming that matters most in my heart: the ICTE Fall Conference.

For two days every autumn, I go home to my English-teaching family. Some of the people there are old friends, people I don’t see often but who have nurtured me through every phase of my teaching career. Some are strangers, people I’ve never met but who still share kinship in our love of English teaching. All are part of the ICTE family.

Coming home to ICTE means that I will feel validated and energized and encouraged in ways that are often missing during the daily life of teaching. No matter how much I love my job, my students, and my colleagues, ICTE has always been able to provide something different in my teacher-life, something I didn’t always realize I needed. I can take away dozens of new ideas for my classroom, whether inspired by a session, a keynote, or simply an idea sparked from table conversation. I can share freely with those around me, not having to worry about stepping on toes or rocking the boat as might happen if I did the same thing back at school. Aside from in my classroom, ICTE is the place where I find the truest expression of my teacher-self.

I hope that every attendee feels the same way about the ICTE Conference, that it’s a place to call home in the midst of our hectic teacher lives. And if there are teachers out there reading this who have never been, I hope you come join us and find a home with ICTE.

The Iowa Council of Teachers of English Fall Conference is October 11-12 at the Stoney Creek Inn in Johnston.

Missy Springsteen-Haupt teaches 7th and 8th grade language arts at Clarion-Goldfield-Dows Middle School and serves on the ICTE Board as Publications Co-Coordinator. She blogs about teaching and writing at themrshauptsteen.weebly.com. Her favorite ICTE Conference traditions are Thursday Social Hour and the taco bar.