Thursday, January 31, 2008

Advice from the trenches - Part 2

More advice on school visits:

  • School visits are hard work. Make it easier on yourself by staying in your comfort zone when you need to. For instance, I prefer not to eat lunch in the teachers' lounge. I'm tired of talking all morning and hate the thought of feeling pressure to make small talk. I need quiet down time. My solution is go outside for a walk.  The walk really helps my energy level and the quiet time recharges me. But then, that's just me.
  • If you go outside the building at lunch time, you will probably find yourself locked out. Most schools nowadays lock their buildings after the morning arrivals and require that you be buzzed back in. Don't panic. Ring the buzzer, which is usually located within plain site of the door. Someone from the office will do a quick fingerprint scan, run an FBI check, and buzz you back in (unless your morning presentation was particularly crappy or you failed the FBI check).
  • Most schools are stretched for money, so they want to get as much out of an author visit as possible. "How I Became a Writer" isn't always enough. Try to add something to your presentation that teachers can use in the classroom - preferably some concrete writing tips for the kids.
  • Since I do so many school visits, it would be too costly to take bookmark give-aways for each student. Instead, I take a template of a bookmark, personalized for each school and with my autograph. Teachers or volunteers can then make copies for the students. Many schools copy them on colored cardstock and even laminate them. The kids love them.
  • The signed bookmarks also help ease your guilt when you turn down a request for an autograph. Trust me, if you say yes even once, you'll find yourself with a mad mass of kids shoving teeny weeny scraps of paper under your nose when you only have five minutes before your next presentation. And if you sign a few but say no to the others, you will feel like a schmuck.
  • I also take templates of worksheets that reinforce one of the writing techniques I brainstorm with the kids. I know, I know...some folks shudder at the word "worksheet." But I personally like them (I'm anal like that). They give teachers something useful for their classrooms and adds another layer to a program that might otherwise be your usual "how-I-became-a-writer-and-how-I-get-my-ideas" kind of presentation.

Part 3 tomorrow....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great idea about the bookmark template! And that's a good point about leaving some concrete writing tips that the kids can work with in the classroom after your visit beyond the usual 'how I became a writer' speech. Thanks for sharing, Barbara!