Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Nerdlution = Rejuvenation

About 50 days ago, I joined #Nerdlution, set goals and wrote my first blog post. Little did I know that these past 50 days of #Nerdlution would lead me to such a sense of rejuvenation as a teacher, reader and learner. And when I read on Kevin Hodgson's blog (@dogtrax) that the last day of #Nerdlution had come and gone- I was absolutely shocked! (I guess time flies when you are having fun!) I feel like I have so much to reflect on and don't even know where to begin!

 I am sincerely grateful for the past 50 days for more that one reason.

I know I am a better teacher because of the connections I have made with other educators and the learning I have done through them: @JustinStygles, @iChrisLehman, @KateRoberts@Deb_Frazier@knott_michele, @patrickontwit@colbysharp@donalynbooks and @lynmullalyhunt - just to name a few! I feel like I finally found my niche among some great educators where it's ok to take risks, share ideas, and LOVE reading. It's ok to jump on desks and yell "YOU ARE A ROCKSTAR!" and "I LOVE READING!" And it's ok to be passionate about teaching and reading in a time when education is in such a state of transition and uncertainty. 

 I know I am a better teacher because of the INSANE amount of reading (all through the recommendations of educators on Twitter and Blogs) I have done of  professional, children's and young adult literature.

I have met some of the best characters imaginable: Carley Connors, Ivan, Hazel, Augustus Waters, Mattie Breen, Rebecca, Eleanor and Park. These characters have all left an imprint on me. Through these characters, I relived what it was like to go through your parent's divorce, but come out just fine. I was able to relive some of those awkward years in  school where you aren't really sure where you fit in. I felt the emotions of falling in love for the first time and the heartache that follows when that relationship is over. The authors of these characters have taken such pivotal moments in our lives and found the words to paint them for us to read and experience over and over again. 

As I read over my first post and reviewed the  goals I set, which were:  to write a post weekly, end each post with a quote, and read One and Only Ivan in two days. Of these goals, I probably didn't come close to mastering one! But to me, that is ok because of everything else I got out of this experience. So it took me close to a week to read Ivan. And so I didn't always end each post with a quote; nor did I post every week.

 However, I did take some pretty big risks. I FILMED myself teaching a lesson using one of many strategies from Falling in Love with Close Reading. The last time I had been filmed was probably close to 10 years ago when I was filmed for my BEST portfolio as part of the now defunct BEST program in CT. I have watched portions of the video, and while some of it is cringe worthy, what I LOVED was watching the students interactions with each other and observing the learning, that was led by them, that was happening. I saw students that wouldn't normally participate or share their thinking, practically fight over sharing their answers. The students listened to each other. The sense of ownership and pride in their work was incredible to watch and to be part of.

  I also invited teachers in to watch the lessons I taught for two weeks straight to a group of amazing, charming and hardworking students. I never expected the positive feedback I received from the teachers! The lessons they watched were wonderful segues into conversations about planning, choosing texts, facilitating student discussions, and building rapport with students. I really had no idea I would have such an impact on my colleagues. I only hope that together we can sustain this sense of learning from each other and talk about each others instructional strategies as a means to better the learning lives of our students. 

I am so looking forward to round two of #nerdlution. There seems to be a world of endless possibilities out there, that I hope includes making new connections, reading more FANTASTIC literature, and learning with fellow educators. Here's to new goals and new adventures! #NCTE14 #nerdcampNNE

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” 
― John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars

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