I'm just home from my visit today to Westwood High School Senior Campus in Hudson, a beautiful town about a forty-minute drive from downtown Montreal.
I worked with three English classes, all taught by the charming and kind Mr. Roy. It's funny how every single class has its own character. I think that's one of the reasons why, after more than 30 years in the classroom, I'm still hooked on working with teenagers! I never know what to expect and that keeps life interesting!
Here are a few highlights from today's visit. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know that I am hooked on interesting observations. Well, today I noticed a student named Daniel trying to melt his eraser on the radiator near his desk. I must admit that even after so many years in the classroom, that was a new one for me! Later, I noticed that a particularly bright student (I learned his name was Matt) happened to be wearing a Harvard sweatshirt. A propos, perhaps?
A student named Lilly told me that today was her 16th birthday! (That's Lilly with me in today's pic -- we are upside-down at the moment, but I'll fix that later!) Happy birthday, Lilly! She also told me she has read my novel What World Is Left FIVE TIMES! Yay, Lilly! Lilly told me she sometimes feels discouraged when she is writing. She said, "I like writing, bu when I write, I feel like I do a very bad job." That made me laugh because ... well... I often feel that way myself! I explained to Lilly that in my experience, people who are really super confident about their writing tend not to be the best writers!
I did a writing exercise with every group. Here's an excerpt from one of the best pieces that came out of the exercise. A student named Kate was remembering back to when her parents announced they were getting a divorce. Kate wrote: "I couldn't smell anything because I had a runny nose from crying." When I read that line I felt like I was in the room with Kate and her family. That's a sure sign of writing that works.
And ... one final moment that made me happy. We were talking about interviewing and I asked the students in my first class of the day, "What quality does a reporter or researcher have to demonstrate in order to get a really good interview or story?" I gave the students the hint that the answer was a verb, that it started with C and had four letters. Well, a student named Tristan came up with the answer: "Care!" he called out.
So that's my word for the day: care. If you care about stories; if you care about writing and reading -- you're on the way to becoming a writer. Thanks to Mr. Roy for inviting me to Westwood Senior, and to librarian Ute Wilkinson for arranging today's visit. And thanks to the students for being so much fun!
Thank you so much for coming today, it was a pleasure to have you! Also, thank you so much for the Birthday wish and for taking the time out of your schedule to visit us. It was really great to be able to speak with you during lunch, you have a great soul!
thank you for coming to Westwood. Here is a link to Westwood's blog, complete with a picture of you with the students in the library:
Hi Lilly and Ute -- thanks for those comments. Lilly, I enjoyed your company and the company of your friends at lunch! Ute, thanks for passing on the Westwood blog. Whoever gave you the info about my session did a great job with the summary. I always enjoy being at your school. best from Monique