Yes, I braved the halls of middle school yesterday to share something I’m passionate about on Career Day.
The surprising thing I learned about myself is that I’m not necessarily passionate about my “career,” when I stack the days on top of each other and look at the whole heaping, lopsided tower. As a freelancer, a writer, and a network marketer (yes, all those things lumped into one wiggly, messy ball) the ONE THING I reiterated as I presented to my “class” is that they can create any career they want.
Yes, I talked about writing copy, and how to influence consumer behavior using well-placed words and marketing channels. The kids all nodded vigorously when I talked about those ads they see on You Tube videos and video games; in fact, they taught me a thing or two! They asked questions about my novel and I found myself telling them more than I’ve shared with anyone else yet, making me think perhaps the story could work as a YA novel. (I need to give that idea some thought!) Some seemed to like the idea of working anywhere in the world, whenever they wanted, on anything they wanted to explore.
But that’s not what I hope they take away.
If they remember one thing about those 25 minutes with me, what I’d want them to remember would be a bright vision for their future. Standing before a bunch of kids makes you realize the diversity and promise baked right into all people. What I’m really passionate about, and what I tried to convey in those short minutes, is that you can choreograph you life so that it’s YOUR dance. Your unique and gorgeous dance that fits in with other dances going on around you. Like the whirling dirvishes. Kind of.
In addition to that, though, the cool thing about a career in writing is the proven fact that if you use words well, doors open wherever you go. And the even cooler thing about writing is that the more you do it, the better you get. All it takes is practice. So in the end, it came down to this:
If you can write, and essentially communicate, you can pretty much do anything you want with your life.
So what did I learn from the kids? A lot! My overarching takeaway whenever I spend time in a classroom is how much energy and preparation it takes to do what teachers do every day. Once again, I find myself bowing to these people I sometimes forget to acknowledge. You better believe I lifted a glass to all teachers everywhere when I got home yesterday evening!
Aside from my renewed respect for the teaching vocation, the most fun thing about being able to share what I do with these four groups of about 20 kids was learning about them! Sixth graders are not such a tough crowd after all. If you get the chance to talk with a group of kids just about to tip into the teenage years, I totally recommend it. It’s refreshing.
Ten things I learned on Career Day teaching 6th graders about writing:
- Teaching is a performance.
- You can’t guess which kids will light up when you say different things, so don’t judge a kid on his appearance.
- Make it about the kids and they come to life.
- This is their work day, and they don’t get to move much. They ate lunch within the last two hours and are just getting through the afternoon… just like you.
- Sometimes when you use a leading question you get unexpected results. In other words, things can backfire.
- Teaching is exhausting; make time for M&Ms and water.
- They really are listening.
- Slides are not necessary.
- “Hecklers” are the most engaged.
- You can teach for 20 minutes about a specific topic and the five-minute Q&A will be all about the single personal aside you uttered in the first 10 minutes. They catch everything.
If you’ve ever participated in a Career Day, you may have your own lessons learned. I’d love to hear them!
Want to know more about writing copy? The concepts are simple enough for middle schoolers, and they’re crucial communication building blocks in any career…. Anyone can learn to write copy!