Yesterday I drove over to Parma, Michigan, only 2 hours away, to attend my 4th Nerd Camp. Never heard of it? Well, to answer my husband’s question, “In one word what is Nerd Camp about again?” Books.
OK that is not a good representation of what it is at all.
It is about the love of everything literacy. Authors come from far and wide. Educators in every form travel from all over the country. And they all meet up at Western High School in Parma, MI.
It is one of the most interesting forms for professional development I’ve been to. An incredible energy is created when readers, writers, and educators are in one space together. There is so much positivity in the air it is almost palpable.
I am not exaggerating.
Educators are the most passionate, intense people in the world. Imagine all of them in one place with well known authors and advocates like Jason Reynolds, Laurie Halse Anderson, Pernille Ripp, Donalyn Miller, Alicia D. Williams, Minh Le, Jillian Heise, Patricia Valdez, and Laura Shovan getting them even more hyped up and ready to conquer the world.
It is a pretty awesome experience. And if you have the chance to go next year, do it.
Here are just a few takeaways from yesterday:
- We need to talk more and often about what consent looks like, feels like, sounds like with our boys.
- We need to talk about what consent is with all genders when they’re young.
- We need to stop being nice and start making the good kind of trouble.
- We need to channel our anger in ways that focus on making change and help our students to do the same.
- We need to get uncomfortable.
- Our students need to be recognized in our classrooms.
I was so excited to hear Jason Reynolds speak. If a student tells me they don’t like to read, I can usually booktalk one of his books and their mind has been changed forever. He is highly talented, so gracious and personable, and gorgeous to boot. #authorcrush
Plans I have made after attending this year’s Nerd Camp:
- Book a Day challenge
- Getting my hands on Jason Reynolds’s new book Look Both Ways as soon as it comes out
- Purchasing and reading: Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga, How High the Moon by Karyn Parsons, and Small in the City by Sidney Smith
I know you are probably thinking, what only 3 things on your to-do-for-next-school-year-list? Pfft, slacker. Maybe I am a slacker. Oh well.
But here’s the thing. I want to actually do those things, and if my list is too long I get overwhelmed. So for now, I am trying to get my hands on and read as many relevant books as possible and thinking of exactly how I can display my Book a Day challenge board.
And here’s the other thing. There are bigger items on my to-do list that aren’t necessarily tangible or something to display or heaven forbid, sell on teacherspayteachers. I need to start by talking to my own sons about consent. I sent my 14 year old a picture of one of Laurie Halse Anderson’s slides about what consent means. His response? ‘I don’t get it.’ So today we had a little discussion. One that we will continue to have.
I need to work on welcoming uncomfortable conversations. Get comfortable with discomfort. I can do this by recognizing my own biases and continuing to learn and grow. I can also stop avoiding necessary discussions. You know when families and friends say we can talk about anything except politics and religion?
Yeah, that needs to come to an end. Let’s have those conversations.
**Sidenote: Nerd Camp MI is actually 2 days long, but sadly, I could only go for one. **