School visit season is over. Summer vacation is here. But keep your brain humming! Summer is a great time to reflect on what worked well for you last year and to think ahead to what you can implement in the next school year. Here’s some advice from author and school visit expert, Kim Norman.
1. Sometimes kids forget why they have their hands up… and they are not offended if you tell them, “You can put your hands down now.”
2. Even if the child posing a question has long, curly locks and a pink hair bow, I NEVER assume gender. Long-lashed boys with collar-length hair and pixie-haired tomboys in jeans can make gender a real guessing game. When I repeat a child’s question, (which I always do, to make sure everyone hears it) I no longer say, “He/she asked…” Now, I always say, “The question was…”
3. Treats are not necessary. I used to offer treats (like stickers) for participation, but have found it’s unnecessary. After a few minutes, even “jaded” 5th and 6th graders are eager to participate. Also, the disappointment is too great for those who don’t win the treats.
4. My presentations must be for the STUDENTS. I may toss in a rare occasional aside that teachers will enjoy, but I keep my interaction focused on the kids.
5. Every school seems to have a clever “Mr. Jenkins” who knows how to make the microphones and projectors work. Mr. Jenkins is often at the other end of the building when you need him.
Kim Normanis the award-winning author of several picture books including TEN ON THE SLED (Sterling), IF IT’S SNOWY AND YOU KNOW IT, CLAP YOUR PAWS (Sterling), and I KNOW A WEE PIGGY (Dial). Kim has visited more than a hundred schools around the U.S. where she shares the joy of books and the humorous “horror” of her Evil Inner Editors. Her popular resource, Children’s Authors by State, provides a terrific service to teachers, librarians and parents who are hosting author visits.