The 2008 National Middle School Association (NMSA) conference could rightly be called the year of the autograph, starting with famed baseball player and keynote speaker Cal Ripken, who signed copies of his new book for NMSA conference attendees. A number of other authors and illustrators across the exhibitor’s hall also wrote messages and autographed their manuscripts.

Dozens of people left the aha! Process booth each day of the conference with smiles on their faces and autographed treasures—books, CDs, and DVDs personally signed by Ruby Payne, Paul Slocomb, Rita Pierson, Shelly Rex, and Jennifer Meka Ratka after their respective breakout sessions.

Immediately after Dr. Payne’s standing-room-only breakout sessions, the lines of people waiting patiently to chat with her and receive her written message and signature wrapped around two sides of the booth. Most extended copies of A Framework for Understanding Poverty for her to sign; others requested signatures on conference agendas, catalogues, and business cards. Many handed their cameras to those who were working in the booth for personal photographs with Dr. Payne.

Lines also formed following the other breakout sessions on Hear Our Cry: Boys in Crisis, Teaching on Your Feet, Mathematics Mental Models, and the Working with Students: Discipline Strategies for the Classroom simulations.

I imagine that future conversations will likely go something like this:

“I’ve read Ruby Payne’s book.”

“Well, I heard her speak!”

“That’s nothing: I have her autograph!”

-Bethanie Tucker, Ed.D.

About the consultant:

Bethanie Tucker, Ed.D. of Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, has been a professional educator since 1972. She has served as a classroom teacher, a resource teacher, a teacher of gifted students, and is currently a professor of education at Averett University in Danville, Virginia. While teaching at Averett, she researched and developed the Tucker Signing Strategies for Reading – a decoding method using sight, sound and movement, which has been highly successful with struggling readers. Through aha! Process, Inc. Bethanie provides training and consulting services for this method.