Does your stomach growl after a doing a couple of high-energy assemblies? In my letter of agreement, I ask the school to provide lunch for me on the day of my visit. Sometimes, hosts will pick up lunch for me at a local restaurant (i.e. Panera, Subway) and bring it back to the school. Other times, the PTA or the staff decide to do a Pot Luck and the bounty is endless. Once I even had a principal whose school was in a remote area pack a lunch for the both of us (it was yummy!).
Because I ask for schedule approval before it’s posted for the staff, I know how much time I’ll have to eat (usually 40-60 minutes). I don’t like to go off-campus at lunch for fear I won’t get back in time for the afternoon sessions.
I like eating in the teachers’ room with the staff, especially when I’m there for both rotations – primary teachers and intermediate teachers. This gives me a chance to answer questions they may have after my assemblies and to solidify a connection with them. After all, they are the ones who will be reading and recommending my books not to just this year’s classes, but hopefully to classes into eternity.
Occasionally, a school will want me to have lunch with selected kids as a reward to them. While I appreciate their wanting to do this for the kids, I do feel more like a host than a participant and end up having to keep the conversational ball rolling. Kids who are wildly expressive in class can often be shy when having lunch in the library instead of the multipurpose room.
If you’re an author who needs a bit of quiet at lunchtime to recharge for the next leg of your day, be sure to spell that out in your agreement. You can’t blame the school for wanting as much face-time with you as possible, but they will respect your request for quiet moments if they know about it ahead of time.