Friday, October 02, 2009


Last year a student changed my life. Wow that’s one hell of a hook.

Geeks, Nerds, we have an innate skill to smell our own kind. If I were to say, “man, if I had a sonic screwdriver I’d be able to fix this,” 95% of the people I speak to on a regular basis wouldn’t know what I was talking about. If you understood the reference, then yes, you are a nerd. Welcome, to the dark side we have cookies. (Another nerd/geek joke)

So last year there was a girl who was a nerd, we pegged each other day 2. Later on in the year, she stood up and did a book talk about The Abundance of Katherines. I was going through one of my reading binges, so I picked it up.

HOLY CRAP. In one word AWESOME. It was smart. It was funny. It was realistic. It was EVERYTHING I wish I could write. When I finished it I became a life long fan of John Green.

Then I discovered his vlog.

He and his brother Hank, created a vlog, where they would communicate in only a textless way. No more IM, texting, or e-mails. Only phone calls and video blogs. From a funny little project he set up with his brother, gave birth to a wonderful movement on the Internet.

People who follow the vlog are called Nerdfighters. In the past two years, they’ve created a social network, done countless acts of charity and made an imaginary person, DJ Railstone, real, (seriously Google her.) They embrace all that is nerdy and wonderful in the world with one positive message, “Don’t forget to be Awesome.”

As I began to discover more, I thought, "I’m a nerd, I want to make the world a better place, I won’t forget to get awesome. Finally I found where I belong."

Here’s the thing, as a teacher, I want my kids to be a better person today then they were yesterday. 8th grade is the time when students are trying to figure out who they are, the adult that one day they hope to be. I love my job because I get to be a part of that experience for 150 kids a year. At end of the year, after sprinkling my lessons through out the last 180 days, I sit my kids down gave tell them about the world.. I remind them never to forget that the person sitting next to them, their parents, their siblings and someone living on the other end of the world, have the exact same feelings and emotions you do. And the minute we forget that, we lose a piece of our humanity. I try to fill my kids up with hope and happiness through wacky stories and embarrassing dance numbers.

John and Hank Green has been telling their fans the exact same thing. And they gave it a catchy name. My theme for the year is DBFTA. So thank you John and Hank, my principal thinks I'm nuts, but my students love it.

Mostly this reminds me of how grateful I am to be living in this time period. I’m a huge wuss and never would have made it during the westward expansion, I would have died of dysentery pretty early on. Thank you Oregon Trail.

Back to the point, when I was coming to grasp with my nerdy self, I was a late nerd bloomer, the Internet was in it’s infancy. I remember the shame and lies I would tell my friends when I bought my comic books. I remember being so excited/ devastated when Wolverine had his alloy adamantium skeleton pulled out and needing to tell someone about it, but having no one.

Growing up a nerd was a lonely experience.

So I thank God for the scientist and Al Gore for inventing the Internet, because at least now, there is a generation of kids who know they aren't alone.

More impressive is that the Nerdfighters DO things. They don't passively sit back and watch funny clips. John and Hank inspired people to action, making them feel like they're apart of something. Because they are. Whether it's taking pictures of Margo in different locations, making cakes, singing songs. They are making the world awesome, and fighting against suck.

It's just a reminder, people will do things, if you ask them nicely.

Yeah so this post was way less snarky then I planned, but I have such a warm gooey feeling I had share.

In case you wanted to check out some awesome clips, links are below.


  1. "there is a generation of kids who know they aren't alone."

    This blog is basically how I feel about Nerdfighters.

  2. yay! I'm glad someone else feels that way. I was blissful and couldn't stop smiling all summer. My goal is to get my students to join Nerdfighters, but only the cool nerdy ones ;-)

  3. I LOVE your writing style, and think I will come to stalk your blog from afar in the future. Keep writing, keep embracing your inner (and outer) nerd... and fight the intelligent fight with pens instead of guns.

    Nerds really ARE awesome.

    I'm in awe. More then some.

  4. You teach 150 kids!! I have 127 and that is too many... yes, I read the whole thing and I comment on how many kids you teach. BTW I was a nerd in HS too. I loved Star Trek and actually dressed up as a character for Halloween one year.