After reading Teri Lesesne’s Nerdy Book Club post this morning, I was inspired to think about my reading communities. I could put a negative spin on this post, for I do not have the reading communities that Lesesne and other educators do. My district will not pay for more than one conference per school year, so I don’t get the chance to meet up with other English teachers on a consistent basis. I unfortunately don’t have a reading community with teachers at my school either. However, there is a lot I do have. I am very grateful for my reading communities, for I’m sure there are teachers out there with less. Today, I am celebrating the amazing reading communities I am a part of.
I know that I would not know the books that I do without Twitter. By following YA and children’s authors, as well as other educators and literacy specialists, I learn about new books, popular books, books for reluctant readers, and so much more! By participating in Twitter chats like #titletalk and #rwworkshop, my Amazon cart grows larger with amazing titles I never knew about. After hearing about #engchat and #nctechat, I found new PD titles to improve my own teaching. I truly cannot say enough about the importance of Twitter in my teaching life.
Reading various blog posts, and starting my own blog, has also expanded my reading community. Amazing and memorable conversations emerge after some of my own posts, as well as many of the other blogs I read. As I tell my students all the time, I am always learning just like them. Even though I am in my 13th year of teaching, I am by no means an expert. I learn so much every school year from blogs by Kelly Gallagher, Donalyn Miller, and so many others. So many of the activities I create are inspired by ideas I got from blog posts, with my most recent one being my students’ own version of March Book Madness. I also met many of the educators I follow on Twitter through conversations about blog posts.
Though my online community is certainly important, I do have an ever-growing community at my school: my students. Since starting my independent reading program, my student community continues to expand; I have current students, upperclassmen, and even alumni. My current students learn about new book titles from their classmates on Goodreads, while others ask for help to find an interesting title from our school librarian. Many students do come to me for recommendations, but I learn so much from them too. I always find myself writing down titles from our school library that students simply cannot put down. (They hunt me down to tell me about these titles as well, for they know they will end up in my extensive classroom library.) Victoria, a former student of mind who is now a junior, gave me a list of almost forty titles that she enjoyed over the years. I still have her list, and when I buy new titles I always take a look at it and cross out ones I buy. (Her influence on students from her grade, as well as younger students, can be found here at a past Nerdy Book Club post.) I have graduates that stop in during one of my Study Halls or after school to get a book because they follow me on Twitter to find out about new titles.
I know I’ve mentioned that I don’t have community of teachers to “talk books” with at my school, but I do have my school librarian. We may be a community of two, but I have learned about SO many new titles from her, as well as workshops and events I can go to so I can learn even more about books and ways to creatively incorporate them into my classroom.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that my communities are linked together. I wouldn’t be able to constantly share book titles with my students without Twitter. I wouldn’t know about certain blogs without going to workshops and events about YA books. I know I am a better teacher because of my reading communities, and for that I am grateful.