Sunday, November 17, 2013

My First School Visit Went Like This...

Such an exhausting day.  Gonna invest in a robot that carries large boxes of books.  Or a husband.  Thankfully I had my dad.

Morgan, UT - I once lived right beneath that "M."  Ish.
So all went down in my hometown school - Morgan Elementary!  I saw teachers I still remember, including my own beloved 1st grade teacher Mrs. Tyrrell who made this whole thing possible!  (thank you)


I entered the school office.  "Hi, . . . I'm the visiting author for the day."  Did that just come out of my mouth??

"Oh hi!  Are you ready for your stack of orders?"

"Yes!"  They handed me stack and I sat in a room and signed books a while.  Then I went to set up in the gym for the assembly.  Everything was prepared just as I requested - doc camera, projector, etc. Sitting alone in the gym, I soon discovered the projector cord didn't match anything on my laptop.  Oh snap.

Rewind.

The night before, I googled "how to do a school visit as an author" and read "be prepared for anything to go wrong!"  Kids puking front row, power going out, computers shutting down, fire drills mid-speech, etc.  I prepared myself emotionally at that moment.

Return to assembly.

Oh snap.  As teachers and students filed in, and reality hit (I'm about to do an assembly!), I explained to someone about the cord.  Teachers set out to help solve the problem.  In the meantime, I said I could skip the book reading for now, and talk about other things.

The room continued to fill with kindergarteners through third graders, who surrounded me in rows on the floor.  The gym echoed loud with chid-chatter.  What do cool authors do at this point??  I sat down and got to know a few kids, asking names.  They were so sweet and so CUTE.  I got excited.  I returned to my chair, and got an idea.

I put a paper under the doc camera and wrote, "Hi everyone."  They could see my hand and my writing through the projector.  I heard a few "hi"'s, and suddenly little hands were waving at me, scattered throughout the gym.  Cool!  I waved back.  I then wrote, "Everyone make a silly face."  Terrific silly faces and giggling everywhere!  I made a silly face back.  This is awesome!  Then the room grew quiet as Mrs. Tyrrell stood to introduce me.

After a very very kind introduction, which included "Ginny was one of my favorite students . . ." :) (aw shucks), I started talking.  We never got the laptop to hook up, which means I didn't show them the process of writing my book, or art I made as a kid, or read my book on a big screen.  But I still had a blast and ended up drawing through my entire presentation.  I drew the mountain with the "M" on it, the river I played in, the grasshoppers I use to catch just around the block, and even drew the ninja turtles I use to draw when I was their age.  I'm from your hometown, and if I can do this so can you!


I talked about using shapes.  I drew a picture of Hippo from my book, starting with basic shapes.  Then I discussed drawing from our imagination.

"I need an animal, tell me an animal!"  A million hands shot in the air and little voices exploded.  Couldn't hear a word, haha.  I pretended to hear frog and wrote it down.  "Okay one more!"  Again, not a word. "Okay, lion!  Great!"  I wrote it down.  "Let's draw a frog-lion!"  I drew a frog-lion, and they watched and giggled and helped me know how to draw it.


Finally I stood and read my book aloud, holding it up high at an arm's length.  Half the kids probably couldn't see it very well from far away, but they heard the text and I think they got the idea.  Turns out I have most the story memorized, thankfully, since I couldn't see it.  I ended with a few stories about when I acted like Hippo, doing and saying things I didn't mean, just so my friends would like me.  Like the time I ate dirt, literally, when I was their age.

"Everyone say, 'I AM CHOOSING TO BE ME!'"  They all repeated with vigor, and gave me a round of applause.  Thanks kiddos.  I love you all.

It was roughly presented, and I know I talked too fast.  (I watched a video of me later - thanks to my sweet sister-in-law who taped me!)  But, it was my first and I learned what to do better for next time.

I enjoyed every second with the kids.  They were SO cute and kind.  They waved as they left, gave me high fives, and waved again when some saw me later at Literacy Night or at Ridley's grocery store at the book signing.

Book signing was awesome - I was 15 minutes late though, due to the fun I was having with the kids surrounding my table at Literacy Night (where I was also selling books) giggling as I drew pictures for them.  I saw a lot of good friends and neighbors at Ridley's as well as enthusiastic strangers and friends of friends.

Thanks Morgan.  Thanks Mom and Dad.  Thanks family and friends for all your help!