Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Funniest Thing About...School Visits

The funniest thing about school visits is the teachers. It’s amazing how teachers can still make you feel like a little child. After a pleasant greeting and possibly a few minutes of “getting to know you” small talk, the teacher will turn to her class and demand attention. I’m well past my school age years, yet whenever I hear teachers go into that stern “listen up…or else” mode, I quake in my shoes. Even the 50% of the time when I’m not doing anything wrong! To make matters worse, I like to write humorous works for children so I like to get the students riled up and ready to laugh. I like to have them interact with me; I like to know they’re coming along for the ride. And nothing can turn my raucous hayride into a somber ride of shame faster than a teacher’s raised eyebrow, “I see what you’re doing and you’re going to pay for it later” look. Sometimes I have to engage in a stealth battle of wills with the teacher. We play a sort of unspoken tug of war with the attention of the children. I try to get them loud and boisterous, the teacher will remind them of the rules. I’ll ask them silly questions that have no correct answer, the teacher will make an educational allusion to something they’re studying in class. I’ll zig, she’ll zag. I’ll bob, she’ll weave. All the while, the children will feel the unspoken tension between fun and education. And then we’ve got them! Because in the end, that’s the goal – to remind kids that learning can be, should be, and often is FUN!

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