Today was the big day! The day of my first school visit. For any of you that know me, doing anything involving public speaking is a big deal. I’d been practicing what I was going to say over and over until I could practically say it all in my sleep. In fact I think I may have said it in my sleep at some point.
Yesterday I even bribed the girls with Otter-pops if they would sit down and listen to my presentation. I figured if I could hold the interest of a 5 year old and a 3 year old, the third graders would be no problem. The 3 year old only ran off once and the 5 year old sat enthralled the whole time, so I’d call that a win. They had some great questions when it came time for the Q&A period too. I think one of the questions was, “I like Minecraft!” Not so much a question, more of an informative declaration. Overall it was a great test run.
A few days ago, Chad even brought home some questions the kids in his class were thinking of asking me. This gave me a great opportunity to see what I might expect. Apparently I needed to nail down who my favorite Pokemon was because that was on several kids’ question cards.
This morning I woke up feeling prepared, yet still a bit terrified. I arrived at the school a few minutes early, and after checking in at the office and getting my visitor badge, I soon found myself sitting in a tiny chair outside the classroom, waiting for Chad to get the students prepared.
While I waited, I tried to remember one last time what I had prepared to say. Wait, what did I prepare??? It took me a moment, but I managed to remember the gist of the first part of my talk. I just needed to remember the beginning, and hopefully the rest would flow.
They were ready, so I walked up to the front, all eyes on me. I started out a little rough, but the kids were really engaged! So engaged that it was a little intimidating. But after I got going I started to get in a good rhythm. When the time came for me to do the reading, they were doing so well that I read the slightly longer version because I thought they could handle it. I was a bit concerned it would be too much and I might lose them, but they were great! I could tell they were really listening. So cool! When I came to the end they even wanted to know the exact page number so they could find out what happened next. I also got to use this cool spider prop of a mechanical Hangman Spider from my book. The kids loved that!
Oh also, my highlight of the day was when I asked them what their favorite books were, and one boy said his favorite book was mine. I asked if he had read it and he responded “No, but I like it!” I hope he feels the same after reading it. After I was done I handed out some coloring pages of the artwork in the book, along with some bookmarks.
All on their own, the students started lining up for me to sign their bookmarks, coloring pages, and random slips of paper. It was very sweet and flattering. What a great first experience!
There was one point I really tried to hammer home during my talk. When you are writing as with most things in life, you can’t expect it to be perfect the first time. Sometimes you just need to jump in and get started, knowing that with each thing you write the better you will get. The same could be applied my school visit today. It certainly wasn’t perfect, but if I waited for perfection or if I waited until I was comfortable, I would never talk in front of an audience. As with writing, I hope I can learn from my experience and get better and better each time. There are no mistakes, just revisions waiting to happen.