You all know I volunteer a lot in my kids’ school. But this week I’ve changed it up a bit. I’ve been volunteering at John’s school.
At first I was completely intimidated by the idea of approaching a large group of teenagers and saying…pretty much anything. I’ve been to John’s school to have lunch, and a few times I’ve stood outside with him and held the doors when the kids are arriving for the afternoon classes. This seems like a truly fun idea until you are sandwiched between a door and a hundred teenagers thundering toward you. The first thing I noticed is that they are all much taller than I am. It’s profoundly different from elementary school, and that is only one of many tangible ways.
This week I spent Monday and Tuesday helping to judge freshmen Media Arts presentations. Most were films, some had created video games, and a few had designed websites to promote photography or other businesses. I was VERY impressed with the work I saw, and truly enjoyed giving feedback and grading the projects on a rubric.
Today, I had agreed to take a small group from each of the upper classes to teach them about “Social Media for Business.” I was so nervous about “teaching” a group of young adults that I spent last weekend creating a Prezi online to outline my major points. I wanted these kids to take me seriously. In my dreams they all mocked me openly or pulled out their iPhone 6 (extra large size, of course) to show me exactly what I DO NOT know about social media. So I came prepared.
On the drive up to school I practiced how I would introduce myself. I’d say my name, explain my career path, and then end with a note of authority by announcing that I have 19 years of experience in the business. Maybe I’d make a joke: “How could that be possible when I’m only 25?” ha ha ha ha. They’d all laugh and we’d be best friends.
Then I got there. I introduced myself to the five seniors in my first group by saying, “I couldn’t teach my kids how to tie their shoes, so….we’ll see how this goes.” Then I looked around frantically for a camera because SURELY someone was filming this catastrophe to be used in a college course entitled, “How Not to Teach.”
In the end, it turned out that I knew a lot more than they did about social media and was able to teach them a few things after all. Not only that, they wanted to hear what I had to say! Mainly the need for scheduling and analytics was something they found interesting and useful.
However, I DID learn a few things, too, such as:
- Teenagers are not really scary, except perhaps in giant groups trying to fit through a singular tiny door. Individually, they are actually quite lovely and interesting.
- If someone sends you a text message that says “I. K. R.”, and you have absolutely zero idea what that could possibly mean, a room full of teenagers will happily and quickly fill you in. (In case you are over 40, like me, it means, “I know, right?”)
- If you think SnapChat is really not a valid channel for promoting a special event, a group of exceptional teenagers might inform you otherwise, and then show you how much time you can waste following linked group Snapchats on the Comedy Channel. Hello Amy Schumer. I adore you!
- For those of us who recently had to delete their Tumblr accounts and start over (ahem), fangirl teenagers will make you feel better about this fact, and then proceed to make you feel like the hours you wasted collecting set photos from that movie in 2012 were not only worth it, but apparently may have indeed been the highlight of their young life.
- If, for some unknown reason, you drink caffeine before you present a Prezi to a group of teenagers for the first time in your entire life, that same group of teenagers will pretend to forget every incriminating thing you said and will not, under any circumstances, repeat it to the love of your life, who just happens to be their Dean of Students.
- Sometimes, these same creatures that you feared merely hours earlier, will say things that melt your heart and change your viewpoint entirely, such as, “I wish you could be here with us every single day,” and “You are officially my favorite person ever.”
To which I could only reply, “I. K. R.?”
I can’t wait to go back on Friday to help out with their “Day of Service” and be around while they “live tweet” and use other social media to promote the event.
But tomorrow….tomorrow I can’t wait to get back to my regular routine, which does not involve teaching anyone anything, but instead involves a whole lot of sitting by myself, on my front porch, writing in blissful silence…..until I have three teenagers of my own.