As a graduate student, one of the things that I have done is attend different conferences in an effort to find what my close friend and colleague Laura calls “my people”. These can be people who speak the same language, do similar research – sometimes they don’t speak exactly the same language but similar enough to have a conversation. I think about my people as those professionals that have similar and tangental interests that I want to engage with in conversations and thinking; people who will push me to think differently and also push me to be more clear about my own thinking. “My people” aren’t one cohesive group – there are subgroups that sometimes they don’t seem to have much to do with each other like philosophy of education & music. There are also subgroups that intersect; for instance, I some of “my people” are in english teachers, librarians and authors.
I’ve always known that one of the places that I can connect with “my people” is NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English). Staying connected with practicing teachers is something that I am very committed to and think is crucial to my identity as a teacher educator. When I attended #4pound at NCTE 2011 in Chicago, I found a new group of people, a new community that has been instrumental in the ways that I think, teach and talk about children’s literature. The Nerdy Book Club. Yes – really – Nerdy Book Club. If you haven’t checked out the blog yet you should do it as soon as you finish this post.
Note: Prior to the NCTE annual conference in Chicago, the club was only an idea. Less than one month after the conference – the blog, #nerdybookclub, and accompanying swag was revealed to the world. Not only did these people love teaching and literature – they were about ACTION!
I watched with awe and excitement – here were people who LOVED children’s literature and teaching as much as I did and did not mess around with an amazing idea. I was inspired. I started this blog and decided to incorporate twitter into the courses I was teaching as a way to help my students experience social media as a way to create and experience professional community. (more about this in another post)
Then at the Michigan Reading Association meeting in March, a Nerdy Book Club (#nerdybookclub) get together happened and I met even more friends. When I first arrived at The BOB in Grand Rapids, I was nervous about finding my Nerdy Friends – how would I know it was them? What if I missed them? Then I saw a small group of people standing together by a couch. I walked over.
The woman sitting on the couch had a book in her lap:
She was also wearing a shirt with this on it: