On Wednesday I met a pretty awesome group of teens. I had the great privilege of being invited back to my old school to talk to the grade 8 ELA class, and was then surprised by the grade 11 English class joining us. To say I was nervous would be to put it lightly. Teens can be a tough crowd, especially after sitting in school all day. I'm not saying they're bad or difficult, but they don't want to waste their time listening to something that they don't find interesting (and most adults are the same lol). So I went in wanting to do something different. I didn't want to just stand there and talk to them because, chances are, they'd tune me out. I'm just not that riveting of a speaker.
So I decided to put them through a small brainstorming and short story workshop. Rather than talk, I decided to do what I do best: create a story. This could have so easily flopped. But once we got the ball rolling... well, kids got... excited! The enthusiasm and creativity that these kids were showing was more than I ever expected.
At the end of our brainstorming session, I surprised them by asking them all to write a short story (or even just the start of one) in 10 minutes. At first they thought I was crazy. And then the pencils started moving.
I had no intention of asking them to share their stories with the class. Rather, I put the two teachers on the spot and had them share. But then one of the teachers asked a student to share hers. And then students started volunteering! That was kind of the point where I went: "Is this happening?"
And, in case anyone is wondering,the picture of the whiteboard is all their ideas. I guided them, that's it. And the truly cool thing was, when it came time to write stories, no two stories were the same. They were all based on the same plot we boiled everything down to, but they all had a different take.
All I can say is. Wow. What an awesome experience. To see a group of people get excited and enthusiastic about something I love so much was just... amazing, for lack of a better word.
I posted this little experience on Facebook on Thursday and I had parents of these students commenting that their kids were telling them all about it. This whole experience really has me excited and I'm hoping to do more of these types of "workshops" in schools or independently in the near future.
If you're interested in having me come talk at your school, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org