Talking to Teens About Writing and Vulnerability

CVU_Chalkboards2I’m humbled by the warm welcome I received at three high schools I visited in Vermont at the beginning of this month. It’s not easy to stand in front of a group of real teenagers and talk about the difficult subject matter of All We Left Behind. Sex, intimacy, shame, and secrets are among the themes discussed, and they’re topics that are too often swept under the rug and left in silence.

It took a lot of vulnerability to write All We Left Behind, and perhaps even more to get up in front of a crowd and talk about it. I’m amazed and filled with so much gratitude at the attention and thoughtfulness of the students who came to hear me speak. It means the world to me to know these topics are something teens respect and want to hear about.

As part of my presentation, I quoted Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly, wherein she said:

“Shame derives its power from being unspeakable … but if we cultivate enough awareness about shame to name it and speak to it, we’ve basically cut it off at the knees … if we speak shame, it begins to wither. Just the way exposure to light was deadly for the gremlins, language and story bring light to shame and destroy it.”

I invited students to help wrap shame in words by sharing stories and secrets as part of my #ShareYourSecrets campaign. Again, I was humbled by the number of students who participated. Their secrets are powerful. We need to listen to them.
Four SecretsI’ve been posting the secrets daily on my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook Page. You can also find them with the hastags: #shareyoursecrets and #wrapshameinwords

I had a wonderful time meeting all the amazing students in Vermont, teaching about writing, and breaking the silence on the topics from All We Left Behind. Below are some images from my adventures!


All We Left Behind on the front desk of the CVU Library.


Everything all set up before the students arrived for my presentation. It was a full house.


Signing books for the CVUHS book club. What a treat it was to meet all these great young readers.


Best part of my day? Eating pizza and talking about All We Left Behind with the CVUHS book club!


Could every library have a super cool mural like this please?


Woot! Woot! Mount Abraham High School has All We Left Behind in their new books section.


The Essex Hornets were an incredible audience. I gave my talk to multiple classes and I was really blown away by the awesomeness of the students.


I had an incredible day too!

It was so wonderful to meet the librarians and educators at all the schools I visited. You have no idea the power and influence you have. You’re truly rock stars. Thank you so much for hosting me!

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3 responses to “Talking to Teens About Writing and Vulnerability”

  1. Arthur Rosch says:

    Fantastic work, Ingrid. I spent years mentoring students at a rough HS. I was teaching digital imaging and raising donations of equipment so the kids could have the needed gear. I wrote a blog story about the comparison between my work (Paid Work, too!) at an affluent charter school and Blazing Guns High. the kids at Blazing Guns were far more grateful and giving. the kids at Hotsy Totsy were…uh…well, never mind. You can read it some time. It’s called “Why I Started Smoking Again”. That was a brilliant idea, to have the secrets emerge on those slips of paper.

  2. Linda W says:

    Wow. You’re really making a difference in the lives of your students, Ingrid.

  3. Peter says:

    I was one of the librarian hosts for these visits. The students are still talking about it. Every day. Ingrid has made a huge (and lasting) impact on these teenagers’ lives. If you’re a librarian or teacher reading this, I would try to book Ingrid for your school NOW!

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