Saturday, August 4, 2018

Phil Bildner: The ABCs of School Visits

Phil just before his breakout session


Phil Bildner is the author of numerous children’s picture books, including the Margaret Wise Brown Prize-winning Marvelous Cornelius, Martina & Chrissie, Twenty-One Elephants, The Soccer Fence, The Hallelujah Flight, and The Unforgettable Season. He is the author of the Rip & Red middle grade series and he is the co-creator of the New York Times best-selling middle grade chapter book serial, Sluggers. Phil spends much of the year visiting schools around the country conducting writing workshops and talking process with students.

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Phil was a middle school teacher for 11 years, and he says that "I look at my writing as the vehicle that lets me do school visits..." Now, "I look at myself as a traveling teacher."

It's a presentation packed (packed!) with tips, including:
"You have to bring it every day." Some kids will never meet another author, it's you. 

How do you get more school visits?

Ask the PTO person or volunteer, or librarian, or teacher, would you reach out to other schools in your district and invite a representative to come?
Five more tips:

1) You're always the gracious and humble guest.

2) Ask to use the faculty bathroom.

3) Make sure your agreement (note: don't call it a contract) with the school spells out that you're going to be with a representative of the sponsor at all times, that you're never alone with kids.

4) Share picture of yourself as kid and awkward teen. "They love that."

and

5) "Know your worth. Never do a free school visit."

Phil shares his advice on book orders (first thing to try: find a local independent bookstore), contracts (yes, you need one), money (get paid as an independent contractor), virtual visits (how to structure them), and so much more.

Final insight to share in this post:

"A school visit is an in-school field trip."

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