School visits ... a strange, draining, exciting adjunct of writing for children. There are lots of things I find difficult about them - nervousness, getting lost trying to find the school, sweating (though, seeing I'm apparently a lady, I should say glowing), finding out that yet again nobody thought to tell the kids to bring money in to buy books, feeling like a wrung out dishrag afterwards. That sort of thing aside, I really love them. I love the high. I love having contact with kids in that intense, incredibly-focussed way. I hesitate to say I love being paid, even though I do - how about I like being paid? I love being called Joanlennon (all one word) and being told that some kid has read my book 5 times and another kid now wants to be a writer when they grow up and, even, that some kid has an Auntie in Canada. (The assumption tends to be that because I was born there, I'm sure to know her.)
Basically, I love feeling loved.
For the most part, children and adults alike are enormously generous about making visiting authors feel like that. More than the most part. But every visiting author will also be able to tell you stories about the exceptions. The teacher who sits at the front marking while you do your talk. The teacher who introduces you saying, "Pay attention, this lady's going to tell you how to pass your exam." The teachers who sit at the back chatting to each other in those whispery voices that carry so much better than ordinary talking. The teacher who just sits there, arms folded, glaring. My personal favourite was the time the teacher answered her mobile phone during my talk and started to discuss lunch plans with someone. When I looked at her, more than a little gobsmacked, she went out into the hall. Which left me alone with her class. Which we've all had drummed into us is illegal ...
Oh, how they get under our skin, these teachers! Why, oh why, we cry (well, at least, I cry) don't you love me?
I don't know. I'd really like to hear your theories. The floor is yours - tell me why you think some teachers hate us. Will it help to tell the world your worst ever school visit story? If so, here's your chance. Think of it as therapy.
Though I've found that chocolate also helps.
Joan Lennon's website