The Smartest Person in the Room is the Room

Being at NCTE is a surreal experience.

I have spent the last few days surrounded by passionate, dedicated professionals, incredibly talented authors, and nearly my entire professional library—live and in the flesh.

I’ve sat it sessions with educators from all over the country and learned from their expertise on social justice, LGBTQ rights, literacy development, debate strategies to write an argument… and so much more.

But the most powerful part of this experience has been the connections and conversations.

When you hear the expression, “The smartest person in the room is the room,” you think you know what it means.

When you experience that expression, it takes on an entirely new meaning.

I thought I had experienced what it was to collaborate with others who would challenge me to grow. And, undoubtedly, I have. But never before have I been with literally thousands of people who are all devoted to bettering themselves, who share such a solidified common goal, and who are a force of nature doing good for kids.

But rather than only being affirming, though it is, it has also challenged me. My thinking has been pushed, my boundaries explored, and my professional repertoire diversified in the best possible ways. I’ve grown my network to include more perspectives, represent more places around our country, and have more powerful conversations. I have met and actually talked to some of the people who inspire my work, whose words I have studied, and who have helped me change my practice.

And I still have another full day.

I look forward to the continued reflections, growth, and progress. I cannot wait to chat and connect with even more incredible educators. And I absolutely cannot wait to continue pushing myself outside my comfort zone, learning from those around me, and becoming better.

This is one smart room. And I am so glad to be in it.

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