A whole new batch of writers with unique tales of love, destruction, despair, and adventure are rising through the ranks of our public school system, and it’s wonderful!
Today I had the pleasure of visiting with students of Melanie Moore Vann’s 7th grade Language Arts class in Ridgeview Middle School. The school is in Texas, which would have been quite a commute from Leadville, so I Skyped into the school’s library where the class gathered, questions in hand. The school’s librarian, Linda Kay, arranged our meeting and conducted a test visit with me days earlier.
You may wonder, why this school? Well, over a year ago I met an engaging young student at an airport. I always travel with copies of my books and search for potential new readers to give them to, and Camila looked like someone who might enjoy Waterwight. I gave her a copy after a wonderful conversation about her own writing, and never expected to hear from her.
People are often delighted to receive books from strangers at airports–I’ve only been told “no thanks” once–and although I rarely hear from anyone, I’m always surprised and delighted when I do.
Camila emailed me nearly a year later and asked when Waterwight Book II was coming out. I was almost finished with it, and she kept in touch until it was published. Her interest in the story got me wondering about her other classmates, and I proposed the idea of visiting her classroom.
After a few correspondences with Linda and Melanie, we scheduled our visit. My intention was to record the session for an episode of Alligator Preserves, but I failed to foresee an issue with a Skype recording application I’d recently installed and the session didn’t record. Alas, I am human.
Perhaps I really didn’t want to record that first session so I could schedule another! Yes! That’s it!
Truth be told, I experienced a twinge of teacher envy during the all-too-fast class. I didn’t want the bell to ring. Melanie’s students had prepared far more questions than I had time to answer, and although they were probably ready to leave for lunch, I was not ready to let them go so quickly.
They asked me questions about my writing, and I asked them questions about theirs. I was astounded by the depth of their engagement with the story writing process and shared some tips I learned from a podcast episode I listened to recently hosted by Annalisa Parent with best selling author Steven James.
I loved today’s visit and hope we can get to the rest of the questions–and perhaps do some haiku?–in another session!
My takeaways from today’s experience?
- Test your equipment several times before your scheduled visit!
- Be prepared to answer many types of questions about your writing process (or whatever it is you do).
- Be prepared to offer helpful advice.
- Be prepared to be delighted by the quality and engagement of our young students!
- Find ways to continue to interact with our young adults.
- Continue to support and thank the teachers and administrators in our public schools who do so very much with so very little.
(Thank you, Melanie and Linda! I know what you are doing for our future leaders, dreamers, artists, teachers, . . .!)
To learn more about my experiences as a 7th grade Language Arts teacher, read “Miss?”
And for the student who wanted to hear more about my first kiss (and second and third…), listen to Kisses, Cooties, and Other Scary Things
Teachers: If you’d like to schedule a visit with me, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
and thank you for visiting!