I found out rather quickly it's much easier said than done. Schools are already pretty short on time when it comes to covering material, and taking time off for a guest speaker doesn't seem to be anywhere near the top of the priority list.
Well, at least not if you are a virtual unknown.
Some of my friends have friends and/or relatives who are school teachers, and they've tried connecting me with those teachers for school visits. But initial enthusiasm quickly turns to excuses. "We've got to prepare for FCATs right now...so, maybe in a few months?" "How about next fall/spring? I'll get back to you..."
I'd pretty much given up on the possibility, at least until my homeschooling Beasties are older and I can leave them alone for long stretches while I pound the proverbial pavement trying to sell myself at face-to-face meetings with teachers.
At a local writers group a few months ago, I found out one of the members is a middle school teacher. I introduced myself after the meeting and asked her to please keep me in mind if she or any teachers she knew at her school were interested in having an author come speak. She was very sweet, and took my card, but hold my breath I did not.
A couple of months later, I was preparing to teach a workshop at the Florida Inspirational Writers Retreat, which happens to be run by the same writers group where I met the middle school teacher. She came up to me during the last group meeting before the retreat and told me about the Great American Teach In that would be happening at her school in November, and asked if I'd be interested in coming to speak!
Long story, short--okay, slightly less long--last Thursday I spoke to middle school students in two of her classes.
And it was AWESOME.
Of course being the big dummy that I am, I didn't take a camera, so I have no pics to show you. But I will never forget the faces I saw there. Smiles and eyes wide with interest. Hands going up one after the other with such great questions!
I started off by asking if any students were interested in writing, and the enthusiasm of some of the responsed just blew me away. My purpose in asking them was actually not to assess their interest, but to give a way for me to let them know that when I was their age I never thought of myself as a writer. It made me kind of sad--happy, but sad because when I was that age I could have been filled with the enthusiasm they have now if I'd given myself a chance to be.
Anyway, I had my art--and still do. And that was something that surprised me as well. I showed them some of my work, from present day and from waaaay back in high school. The oohs and ahhhs, and show-me-mores warmed my heart and kept me smiling the whole rest of the day!
All I can say is: Totally worth the wait. And now something I want to get to do even more.
So thank you, Mrs. Kramer, for asking me to speak to your classes. And thank you, students, for your awesomeness! Write on!
So happy that your first Great American Teach-in event went well for you, Kat. I always loved it when I taught high school - the kids enjoyed a break from their regular teacher - and I always learned something new.
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