I’ve recently returned from NCTE, a conference I hadn’t been to since 2008 when I presented work from my dissertation. A group of us from READ East Harlem were presenting—three specialists and four second grade teachers. I’ll write another post about our presentation and how exciting it was to experience what it’s like to be at NCTE for the first time through the eyes of seasoned teachers, but today’s post is about how attending NCTE really burst my bubble. And in a good way.
In this day and age with Twitter, blogs, and an abundance of other social media platforms, it is easy to connect with educators outside of your little bubble. The connection, however, is still made from within that bubble so- at least for me- I find myself not totally present (something I need to work on). For example, I might be reading a blog post on the subway but half listening for my stop. Or looking through my twitter feed while waiting for the bus, carrying bags of books and papers. I have stacks of books to read, both professional and children’s, and while they sit on my shelf other things tend to get in the way when I’m in my bubble (like student papers to read, reports to write, etc.)
Physically stepping outside the bubble to attend NCTE was exactly what I needed, for sure. When I met Colby Sharp he asked me what I was reading and I couldn’t think of a single title. My mind drew a complete blank and I found myself embarrassed and annoyed. While I haven’t been setting aside time to read fiction (adult or children’s), I’m constantly reading professional books and articles for work.
After I walked away, I got to thinking. What HAVE I been reading? Sadly, nothing stood out. I was stuck in my bubble - trying to engage but not being totally present.
Well now...I’m on a reading roll. I’ve completed Whose doing the Work? by Burkins and Yaris, which I bought when it first came out last year. I’m reading Why are School Buses Yellow? by Barrell, which has been in my stack to read since July with two teachers, and I’ve begun Striving and Thriving by Harvey and Ward, a recent purchase. In addition, I finally read George by Alex Gino and am about to begin Ghost by Jason Reynolds. I’m invigorated not only because I feel like I’m checking things off my to do list, but because, as always, with each book I read, I’m transported outside of my bubble, where I meet characters and educators who inspire me to question, think deeply, do more (sometimes by doing less) and be more.
How ironic that I had to physically step out of my bubble to be reminded that, by prioritizing reading from my “to read stack”, I could move beyond it. So a question I have to ask myself is: did NCTE really burst my bubble, or did it just make it bigger?