Writing for a YA Audience: School is in SessionPosted: November 21, 2018
I might be a writer, but I’m also a teacher. Ever since I took my first class – ballet, age 3 – I wanted to teach. I taught my dolls whatever I learned. I taught my maternal grandmother. Beneath the expert tutelage of a child age 5, she learned yoga, tap, jazz, and Spanish. I contribute a lot of my success in Spanish (as in, I passed) to the hours spent teaching it to her. Teaching was what I wanted to do.
I went to college for elementary education. I imagined a classroom of eager faces mirroring my grandmother’s. We would do the best projects and everyone would love learning. I walked in with my arms filled with my favorite books, materials for astronomy models, and a skip in my step.
Instead, I was faced with mandatory testing and parents angry that their child had homework on the night when they watch reality TV. After college, I switched to teaching young adults in a collegial setting. I fell in love with teaching all over again. They were eager to learn. (Well, most of them.) I didn’t have to deal with parents who used foul language while screaming at their kid for using the same foul language. There weren’t days spent learning how to pass a mandatory test instead of mastering the material. Anyway, I digress…
I went from teaching adults at a local community college to teaching adults for a financial institute. On the side, I started teaching classes in one of my passions: writing. Libraries in the area were willing to give me time on weekends or weeknights to teach writing to anyone who wanted to come, free of charge. The classes ranged from general writing tips to fantasy-specific discussions to how to get published.
Still today, even though I’m no longer teaching as a day job, I lead classes at local libraries. The classes are always small and intimate – five people to ten. This gives us the opportunity to have one-on-one discussions and to have the attendees share selections of writing for feedback. Most recently, in August, I got to teach a two-part fantasy workshop to youth for a library summer program. The ideas they came up with were complex and original. They weren’t afraid to write out of the box.
The best part about teaching a writing class is observing the passion in everyone’s face. Whereas my grandmother’s passion came from helping me better myself, these students have a passion for the written word, and I’ll do anything I can to help them expand that passion.
Jordan Elizabeth is a young adult fantasy author. If you’re a teacher or librarian, she would love to talk to you about leading a workshop or giving a presentation. You can connect with Jordan via her website, JordanElizabethBooks.com.