Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Under the Influence...of a Nerd

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This fall a new 5th grade teacher was hired at our building.  Although I am old enough to be Kristen's mother, in teaching years we are only five years apart.

As I got to know her better, I found that we had similar teaching methods, styles, and philosophies...we were like-minded.  There was a problem however.  I found out that Kristen was not a reader.  So of course being the nerd that I am, that has become my personal mission.

One day she came and observed me and mentioned how she would like to have a classroom library like mine.  I thought, "That's a step in the right direction."  So that week I ordered a stack of books from Scholastic to add to her library.

December came around and Scholastic was having their warehouse sale in a city about an hour away.  I asked her if she wanted to go with me, and she said yes.  I thought, "I am making progress!"

We spent the evening browsing through case after case of books.  It is very easy for me to spend someone else's money, so I was oohing and ahhing and handing her book after book.

"You have to get this one!"

"This one is so good!"

Since she has my students from last year, it was very easy to make recommendations for specific students.

"Jayda would love this book!"

"AJ needs to read this!"

We both left with full bags and excitement about sharing our purchases with our students.  I thought, "This is getting easier!  I think she is on her way to becoming a nerd!"

Right before Christmas she was telling me about a home-life problem of a student I had last year.  As she was telling me the story she said, "You would be so proud of me.  I told him the great thing about reading is that you can get lost in a book.  You can just open it up and get lost inside.  You can escape from everything that is going on in your life and just read.”

I thought, "Wow, she's getting it!"

Now, here is the clincher.  Over Christmas break she sent me this picture along with this text:  "I haven't done this in years."

I thought, "Yep, she is on her way!"

Working and collaborating with Kristen has breathed new life into my teaching.  Having a like-minded person to share ideas, plans, and resources, I feel less isolated as a teacher.  We co-faciliated a PD last week and plan to attend the All Write! Conference this summer.  I have shared many of my professional development books and convinced her how important Twitter is to my own professional development.  I am so thankful I can call her a colleague and a friend.

Yes, she still has a ways to go before I would technically call her a nerd, but I certainly think she is "under the influence!"  Now I just need to get her blogging...maybe that will be a summer project!


  1. Quite a celebration!! REACHing one colleague at a time!

  2. that is great! a professional friend to mentor and learn some stuff from too!

  3. Really like the definition of a nerd. I don't think I ever thought about it. Aren't you two lucky to have found each other.

  4. What a great mentor you are! Did you see the TWT challenge to get someone new to blog? Come on, Kristen, join the fun!

  5. Loved reading this, Leigh Anne, it reminded me of mentoring Rachel. You have brought her along in the kindest and most meaningful way - and how wonderful that must feel. Here's to having her blog over the summer!

  6. I agree with Tara. It sounds like you have spent a lot of time helping your new colleague, maybe $ too, but also it seems that the rewards for success this time is a new tacking buddy. Very fun to hear!

  7. I love the way you are trying to make her a "nerd." I love reading, but have never considered myself a nerd? Maybe I am missing something.....anyways, you are definitely being a wonderful mentor to a young teacher who somewhere along the way lost her reading spirit. I look forward to seeing what will happen in a few more months!

  8. What a wonderful difference you are making! You are what I'm striving for this year with my OLW -- a SPARK of change! Congratulations!

  9. That's so wonderful! Sounds like you needed each other! :-)

  10. I know what you mean about being alone and then when a like-minded person enters your world everything expands exponentially. I love the way your students move on to her. Such a lovely thing for your students and each other.

  11. Reaching out, nudging her gently step by step - it's not only her growing, but you too as a mentor.

  12. Sounds like a great relationship, and you are certainly a great reading mentor. I think your persistence and multiple approaches paid off! I need to remember that as I encourage my husband to read - he says he wants to read more - but to do that you have to... read more. Glad your colleague has taken that step.. And also - how fortunate you are to have choice in your approach to teaching reading. That has been removed from our district. Keep up the good work!

  13. Having a partner to share/build ideas makes such a difference. How great you have each other! Keep nudging, hopefully she will see the benefits of being a reader AND a writer.

  14. Leigh Anne,
    It is always so nice to have a collaborative partner at school. I'm very lucky to have an amazing team. I look forward to working and learning with them every day. I know they'll help me out when things get tough and we enjoy talking about the learning taking place in our classrooms.

    I'm glad to see Kristen back on her reading journey. I would say most all of us are readers on some level. We just all have different ways of going about it. Life can sometimes be a big factor in that.


  15. BTW, love the #olw visual image on your sidebar! :o)

  16. Yay, Kristen!! So lucky to have a mentor like Leigh Anne!!! What an awesome story!! (By the way, I LOVE that quote about nerds! Where did you get it? May I steal it?)