I wanted to share with my top five things that I’ve learnt from school visits this year.
If you love your stories they will shine and children will love them too. Children adore stories and have a wonderful sense of fun and adventure. They will go with you wherever you take them.
Don’t try and do anything someone else does when they visit schools. Follow your heart and do what it tells you. It has always worked for me. I recently bought a basket that I can pop all my author goodies inside and it makes visiting so much easier. At a quick glance I can find anything.
Be flexible and adaptable. Yesterday, after getting a little flustered by first going to the wrong school with the same name I still got there on time. Then in all the Christmas end of year madness the teacher had forgotten. So instead of infants it was the Year Four grade. Guess what? The visit was joyful and full of story. The students gave me invaluable feedback, praise and story love. Today at my doorstep totally out of the blue was a lovely bouquet of flowers from the school with wonderful thanks for all that the students received from my visit. Remember you too will receive as much as you give.
Be professional, by that I mean be organized and prepared for anything. Even gum chewing little coolies. ‘The boy at the back could you please pop that gum in the bin.’ And ‘Thank you.’ Dress like an author. When I wore my watermelon top the Kinders were in love with it. It also helped that I looked fun and creative and like my author self. We had to move rooms and that can interrupt flow but not if you make it an adventure. ‘Come follow me, into the land where it’s cool.’ (The air conditioner) If children like you they will tell you things that may make your hair raise but that’s because they trust you. Don’t ever break a child’s trust bubble with you.
When I road test stories the students are awesome they tell me the good bits and they will also tell me the bits they didn’t like or understand. I shared a rainbow story and when were chatting about colours I then realized I had forgotten blue. ‘Oops thanks for telling me that, lucky you noticed I’d better fix that when I get home.' Embrace and enjoy school visits they will make your heart sing.