Little kids are incredible. They have this ability to make you do ridiculous things just so you can see them smile and laugh. I had my first story time and book signing at the Oak Creek, WI Public Library this past weekend and it turned out to be so much better than I expected. I learned afterwards that the room was at fire code capacity with more than 70 adults and kids, whoa!
Going into it I just thought it would be my friends, my mom, my husband and our kids. So my expectations for attendance were pretty low.
I was shocked when people started to show up that I didn't know. That's when my nerves kicked in. I can sing nursery rhymes off key and act like a fool in front of my family and friends because they already know me. They know I'm goofy and awkward. They'll still love me if I fail (right?! lol). Not knowing the faces in the crowd made it a million times more intense. I HAD to sing and read to strangers and I HAD to do a good job. GULP.
After I was done with the story time portion of the program a sweet woman and her son came up to me and said,
"Are you a teacher? The reason I ask is because you have a really good way of presenting to the children. A great energy."
It really meant a lot to me that she said that. She was a stranger and because I was nervous to begin with her compliment made me feel like I didn't totally suck.
I know that with each time I speak or present a story time I will learn something. I'm new at this so I wanted to get these five things written down as a reminder to myself and maybe it will help some other people too.
Here are five things I learned from my first story time.
1 - Give your presentation or program to your own kids or family first.
This seems like an obvious one but sometimes presenting to your family is the hardest because they are the most critical. Do it anyway.
You'll be happy when you work out the kinks in front of them instead of strangers.
I presented mine to my mom and my own children. My mom was engaged and giving great feedback. My kids were jumping on the couch asking to watch a show (eye roll). I figured their poor behavior would prep me for any craziness and distractions.
2 - Make an outline and keep it by you.
I wouldn't recommend notecards. You'll look like you're giving a presentation in college, SNOOZE!
If you print out an outline and keep it next to you it's easy to glance at without giving much pause.
I printed mine and because I knew it was there I never ended up looking at it.
3 - Focus on the children's faces.
Kids don't pretend to like things. This is incredibly frustrating and adorable. If the kids are engaged and smiling you are doing a good job.
If they aren't paying attention you have to up the energy and channel your inner goofball.
If all else fails make a fart noise...kidding...but for real, fart noises are funny.
4 - It's not brain surgery.
If you start to feel overwhelmed by the thought of public speaking remind yourself, it's not brain surgery. You can make jokes and mess up a little and it will be OK.
When I got to the singing portion of the program I was so excited I wasn't remembering to breathe. I laughed a little to myself and thankfully the kids were singing so I could whisper-sing and catch my breath before passing out. It was a really challenging vocal of Skinny Marinky Dinky Dink...don't judge.
5 - Don't wait too long to make edits to your program.
After your program/presentation go home and make notes for yourself about things that went well and things you felt could be done better.
The hope is that you will be asked to do it again so it's better to get your thoughts on paper before they leave your brain.
I needed to slow down and breathe more. Hopefully next time my nerves will be more in check and I won't have to remind myself to take a breath.
Breathe. You got this.