Tomorrow I’m going to talk to some at-risk 9th and 10th graders about my life as a writer. I love working in schools, which is handy, since I married an educator and spend a lot of time teaching (check out Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc.).

I think it’s great when “real people” go to schools and talk about what they do. It makes us feel good, doesn’t it? But unfortunately I know too well that talking about my career isn’t going to help 99 percent of the kids in the room any more than reading to first graders will. Yes, of course, I’m modeling something good, and that isn’t completely worthless. But unless we start giving kids tools to become the people we believe they can be, just standing up chatting about your fabulous life or reading Junie B. Jones isn’t going to cut it.

So tomorrow, I’m going to talk a little about what I do by teaching them a quick tool for better writing that we use here at The Word Factory all the time. And I’m going to take them our writing strategy guide.

Our schools need so much help preparing kids for life after graduation. If you get the chance to visit a classroom, try to do more than talk or read. Think of something quick you can teach them that you use every day in your work. Or provide them with something else tangible, like an offer to visit your work or something. I was talking to a dad the other day who makes 15- to 20-minute presentations on using social media to find work for high school kids in his hometown. Great idea!

So, what can skills or tools can you provide kids in your local school district?