Hey cHEwY gum gums!
Yesterday I did my first school visit of 2021, at Regent’s Park Christian School. Like any veteran teacher starting out in Term 1, I felt a little rusty at the beginning, but I found my groove quickly and by the end of the visit, I felt refreshed. It was so good to be out and about again.
So why are school visits important to me? Well for starters, it pays the bills. I’m not JK Rowling in Anh Dough, so I appreciate that my second job is so closely linked to my other love, teaching. When I do my writing workshops, I get to put on my teacher hat, and the best thing is that I don’t have to mark anything or do reports.
I also get to do some research on my future books. One of the perks of being a teacher was observing kids in their natural habitat. I like walking across the playground at lunchtime, seeing what they do. Or hanging out in the staffroom listening to some juicy stories about some interesting characters who are dying to get into my stories. You really couldn’t make some of this up, kids never hold back when it comes to how they feel, react and deal with their problems.
The final thing is that I get promote my books. There’s nothing cooler than seeing posters or a display of my books in the school library. I love seeing kids getting excited when I’m there, ready with questions about my books. But it’s what I don’t see that even more impressive. Authors can attest to this, there’s an afterglow effect where kids are fighting to borrow or buy your book. This could last for weeks, even months after you’ve visited the school. Getting paid to promote or advertise my books is a bonus haha. But it’s something I never take for granted. Besides, in the end, as long as they kids are pumped to read something, that’s mission accomplished to me.
There are other cool perks with school visits too, the travelling, incidental exercise (I expel a ton of energy when I do my author talks haha) and just that simply joy of making people laugh.
So authors and illustrators out there, what do you get out of school visits, apart from the getting paid part hehe.