Schools visits are magical…most of the time. My very first school visit started with technology issues. After struggling for half an hour, I decided to give my presentation without slides. At that point, of course, the presentation suddenly started working! Talk about stressful. But in the end, it’s your connection with the kids that matters. How do we inspire and encourage kids during our school visits?
I thought through this question as I recently prepared for my visit to St. Augustine’s school, where I spent the day leading workshops for K-8, pictured here. There are the three basic rules that work for me. I share personal experiences, get the kids involved, and use questions.
1. Share personal experiences. Kids like hearing about your triumphs and downfalls. They want to hear something silly or what gives you ideas for books. I share my pile of rejections, a silly picture of myself at their age,and my first journal.
2. Get the kids involved. Kids learn best when they are moving and thinking at the same time. My school visits involve mad-libs, raisin and popcorn meditations, singing, a story in a box, writing stories, and onomatopoeia word storms.
3. Use questions. What’s your favorite book? Why is it your favorite book? What makes you want to turn the page? What tools can we use to write stories that people want to read? All of these questions get kids thinking about the writing process. And kids always have questions for a visiting author. Make sure you leave time for them to ask you questions at the end of your presentation. Kids of all ages ask insightful and interesting questions.