Inspired by the Nerdy Book Club—Again

Last night I returned from a very invigorating “un-conference” called Nerd Camp Michigan. My brain is full and I am, once again, inspired by the people I have met through the Nerdy Book Club.

At lunch on the second day of Nerd Camp, I asked Donalyn Miller and Laura Komos if I could sit in one of the empty seats by them. Donalyn said sure, but told me that there were also a couple of teachers who wanted to sit by her to ask her some questions so we needed to save seats. My first thought was, “How cool is this famous author to give up her free time to, essentially, work?” My second thought was, “Woo hoo—a free consultation with Donlayn that I can eavesdrop on.” I knew her advice would be valuable, so I sat down.

The teachers asked Donlayn their questions and she graciously helped them with their dilemmas and assured us all that we were doing the right things for students. We all agreed that, in the end, we must perform to the best of our abilities given our individual parameters. This is one thing I have definitely learned in my teaching career—all we can control is our own classroom.

Besides this great lunch conversation, I sat in several Nerd Camp sessions delivered by phenomenal educators (and even horned in a bit on facilitating a session given by my friend, Kevin English. Thank you, Kevin.). In these invigorating sessions, it was easy to set goals for future learning. For example, I had not realized the full capabilities of Padlet and Evernote. I resolved to learn more and practice with these tools. My only regret at Nerd Camp was that I chickened out and didn’t volunteer to lead my own session as I had planned (which, coincidentally, was the exact topic that Kevin had proposed which is why I asked him if I could help in his session). I kind of beat myself up over that. Regrets stink.

I have an extremely rewarding career and love every minute of what I do. I’ve taught for over 20 years at all grade levels from first grade to university pre-service teachers. I have been a teacher leader and delivered many presentations to groups of teachers, student-teachers, and administrators. I know that I’ve put in over 10,000 hours, yet there remains this nagging doubt that I am not yet an expert. I always feel there is something I don’t know and can’t ever believe it when people want to hear what I have to say. Perhaps this is because I haven’t yet developed the “Goldilocks” classroom I wrote about previously. I feel that an expert would have had this figured out by now. Also, I have never quite managed to finish writing the teaching book I’ve wanted to do for years so I don’t feel I have credibility. It is for these reasons that I was too insecure to volunteer to lead a Nerd Camp session. I know I have a lot of knowledge and experience, but I don’t know that I will ever feel that I am talented enough to be one of “those” teachers who naturally inspire others like Donalyn Miller and the rest of the Nerdy Book Club. But in the true spirit of an Ed Camp, I am inspired to keep a growth mindset. I want to share what I have learned with others, but, apart from adjunct professor work, I don’t yet know the forum for doing so and this blog is my first step. I don’t feel that I’m an expert—YET—but I will get there. I’ll figure it out. I will keep blogging and tweeting and working on that book. One thing’s for sure–I will definitely sign up to run a Nerd Camp session next year. Thank you for the inspiration Nerdy Book club. I’ll see you on July 6 & 7, 2015!

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