In my last Blog I talked about supporting Nottingham Pride (with the help of 200 Degrees). On the back of this I was lucky enough to be asked to head into Capital One (sponsors of Nottingham Pride) at the end of August to hold a pop up stall/book signing. While I was at Nottingham Pride I was also asked if I did school visits by one lovely person who bought my book. I have done some but would love to do more. So read on to find out how my initial visits went and how you can book me to come to a school near you.
Scheduling visits around my day job
The tricky bit is that working in a school, I have to schedule any visits within the holidays of my own school. This obviously limits the amount of time I have to fit them in. That said, as my holidays are different to those in neighbouring counties, I do have some weeks in the year when I am able to undertake visits. I just have to be organised.
Tailoring to different schools
I started doing school visits in February last year and although I have not done many, I am pleased to say that they have all been very well received. I have visited a range of schools across Nottinghamshire, Derby and Birmingham so far though I would be only too pleased to travel further afield if the need arose. I have worked with different ages and varying numbers of pupils too; ranging from large primary schools such as Cotgrave Candleby Lane Primary, to smaller schools such as Alderman Pounder Infants. I have tailored my approach, working with the whole school (such as Portway Junior School) or separate year groups (such as Radcliffe on Trent Infants or Park View Juniors).
So what do my visits consist of?
I firstly offer a free assembly. This can tie in with the promotion of a love of reading/writing and aim to inspire children to “have a go.” It also fits well with the current hot topic of British Values and promoting equality and diversity. Not only do I share my story with the children, I share how I have developed as a writer since being a child and ask the children to consider what the moral purpose of the book is. I was delighted during one of the school visits when a Year 6 child put his hand up when asked what they thought the moral of the story was and said “It is easy, love is love.” A perfect answer. I often finish with a question and answer session and am astounded by the depth of some of the questions that are posed to me.
How I can make it easier for the school office.
It is an absolute joy to visit different schools, see how they operate and listen to the children’s different points of view. Working in a school myself, I also understand the pressures on the office staff and leaders so I try to make things as easy as possible. I have a template letter that can be sent out to parents (and encourage schools to amend it to suit their needs). I also work with the office team to collate and check orders too. It is these little tips that I have found to make visits easier.
It has not been without its hiccups though. I totally underestimated the number of books I would need to have printed for my initial visits. This meant taking orders and delivering them at a later date. One school collected a large number of orders however the list I had didn’t match that of the office; it was one book short. As a self-publishing author this would have come out of the profits as the book hadn’t sold enough at that point to cover the initial costs. In hindsight I could have overlooked this, covering the missing order myself as a good will gesture. These were learning points I am pleased to have taken on.
Another great suggestion by a teacher at another school I visited (Richard Bonington Primary) was that I ought to consider putting the images from the book into an e-presentation so all the children in the assembly can see them clearly. I very much intend to explore this over the coming weeks in preparation for future school visits.
Future booking availability.
So talking of preparing for future visits, the next window I have is from 15th to 19th October 2018. If you are interested in arranging for me to come and visit the school you work in (or indeed the school where your children attend), drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org ) or contact me on Twitter or Instagram. I would be more than happy to work with you to tailor a visit to suit your needs.
I can even bring Felicity and Jane in to meet your children…