I had the pleasure of presenting a university guest lecture this week for third-year teaching students. My topic was writing and blogging, with a focus on writing workshops for primary school students.
As I caught the tram to the university, it reminded me of my own uni days – a long time ago! I spent mornings at uni studying literature, and worked at an after-school-care program in the afternoons.
As a twenty-year-old coordinator for the after-school-care program, often responsible for up to sixty children an afternoon, I felt hugely accountable for these children. Sometimes I was the first person they could talk to if they had a tough day at school, a transition person between school and home. Sometimes I helped them negotiate playground matters or helped with homework. Often I heard about problems at school or home, while making hama bead pictures or shooting a basketball.
I thought about how important these teaching students are, and what an impact they’ll have on so many children. While I never had to worry about curriculum as an after-school-care coordinator, these teaching students will teach the curriculum, as well as resilience, overcoming obstacles, social behaviour and communication. And think abut the technology changes they will see over the course of a teaching career!
When I was a coordinator, even at age 20, I felt I would never have another job with so much responsibility. Publishing books and editing websites may have more accountability sometimes but it doesn’t have the same consequences if something goes wrong.
So I did get on my soapbox and talk about the importance of communication. After all, these teaching students, and their future students, will need to deliver a eulogy at a funeral, give a speech at a wedding, send a passionate email to a girlfriend or boyfriend overseas and present a talk asking for funding. We will all need to do some of those things, so it’s important to be intentional about whatever you’re presenting, however you’re presenting.
I spoke a lot about the writing workshops I offer, how to guide kids through creating characters and following their plots. All of the worksheets I’ve created can be downloaded and printed.
I recommended some of my favourite picture books and middle grade books, with ideas for how to use them in the classroom.
My favourite part of the lecture was when I invited the students to create a story with me, because it’s important that we understand what we ask children to do. The students made up an amazingly funny and gorgeous story about a boy called George who wanted a monkey to cuddle. The stakes were high, the problems seemingly insurmountable but George won through in the end!
Thank you so much to the teaching students who have subscribed to my blog – I look forward to sharing more writing tips for children with you.