Friday, May 26, 2017

Picture Book Journal: Be Our Guest



Sometimes I wish there was a book offered to schools called, "How to Host an Author."

Some schools don't need this.  (Most schools don't need this.)  Some schools are very excited that an author is coming and they treat you like a respected guest.  They prepare the kids and put signs up saying Welcome! and just treat you like you're the best thing since sliced bread.  And that feels great!

Other schools ... well, sometimes you're just a person sitting in a stairwell.

I'm not a fancy gal.  I don't expect the red carpet.  But there should be some basic rules of etiquette that are met.  For example, when an author goes into a school, there should be a host to meet them, give them a schedule, show them where bathrooms are, where to get lunch, and take them to their first location.

Sometimes you get a student escort - that's fun.  Most of the time it's a teacher or media specialist.  On my last visit there was no host.  Zippo.   Nada.   Well, that's not 100% true.  I knew I'd need someone to help with the computer set-up so I made a request for help, then someone led me to the stage.

What we didn't know, because there was no host, was that I was in the wrong location.  I was supposed to be in the library.  Who knew this?  I did not know this.  The school secretary did not know this.   It was unknown.

Someone eventually found me waiting patiently in a room with no students and escorted me to the library and I did my presentation.  It was the exact same presentation that I did there last year.
Sometimes this doesn't matter.  If I only present to one grade, I can present the same material year after year to new students.

However, this was not the case.

I was presenting to the Kindergarten and the first grade, just as I had last year.  And I should have caught on to that earlier on, but there was such a huge gap in communication between booking my date and letting me know what they wanted me to do.  I think eventually the person handling it just said, "Uh yeah.  Same as last time."  I didn't think anything of it until the week before my visit when I realized that half the group would have the same presentation as last year and the same art project.

I relayed the issue and pitched a different art project, but I never heard back.  Okedokee.
So some kids got double ninja learning.  Not the worst thing ever.

I know this post sounds whiny, and truth be told, it was a fine visit.  The kids were great and the teachers were super helpful in the classroom.  What this visit needed - what all visits need - is a stage manager.  Someone who is in charge of it all, someone who knows how it's going to go, where the author should go, and who can host the author properly.

I'm a professional.  I'm there for the kids and I'll get the job done.  This post is just to shed light on the realities of the job.  Sometimes it's not very glamorous.  I guess most times it's not very glamorous, but a good author visit can really make you feel like a rock star.

And sometimes you're just the person sitting in the stairwell.


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