Louise Borden's delightful THE DAY EDDIE MET THE AUTHOR.)
What's so great about spending an hour a week with ten third-graders?
• I get to experiment with writing strategies, themes and ideas I am developing for reading guides.
• I learn what works and what doesn't work--what makes sense and what goes right out the proverbial window.
• I get to see what third graders of all sorts of ability levels can and want to do.
• Working with my son's class reminds me that all kids don't find reading easy...all kids don't love to write...but ALL KIDS want to share their stories.
These lessons are valuable in so many ways, not the least of which is the way that they can prepare published and unpublished writers for the school and library marketing journey. Here (in no particular order) are six things I have learned.
1. I love teaching kids and I don't mind if they're a little bit flaky. In fact, I often find the disinterested or unfocused kid my biggest challenge and work hard to think of ways to help them get in touch with their "inner writer."
2. I can make kids think I'm cool (and occasionally funny) by not being too strict and admitting when I mess something up.
3. I love the hush that comes over the group when I read something really great out loud.
4. I find that kids enjoy breaking down WHY a story or paragraph engages them.
5. I have found free writing to be a great teaching tool, but it is skill that must be developed and tends to get harder as kids reach adolescence (this I've learned from also working with older students).
6. I find stereotypes such as "hyper kids should be onstage" and "quiet kids are probably going to become computer programmers or writers" to be highly amusing--and the kids do, too!
If you can't make a list something like the one above, go to your local elementary, middle or high school and volunteer to teach writing (aka, "free" lessons on developing your school and library marketing platform and presentation). If you wind up having fun, then school and library appearances are probably for you!