Friday, February 3, 2012

School visit snafus

One author. Hundreds of kids. Sometimes remote locations. Computer equipment. Slippery cafeteria floors.

What could go wrong?

A few of the possible mishaps an author might encounter (I mean "an author sometime somewhere has encountered") on the circuit:

  • PowerPoint equipment set up upon arrival, but not working
  • PowerPoint equipment not set up upon arrival
  • PowerPoint equipment not present at all
  • PowerPoint equipment set up in middle of sea of students sitting on floor, but no remote (meaning you must meander through the kids to change each slide)
  • No microphone with a big group
  • No microphone with a small group
  • Microphone battery conks out mid-presentation
  • LCD projector bulb burns out mid-presentation
  • Power goes out mid-presentation
  • Ceiling tile plummets to the floor mid-presentation (this has really happened to me; luckily and amazingly, it didn't hit anyone)
  • Principal not told there would be a presentation
  • Teachers not told there would be a presentation
  • Students told there would be a presentation but were expecting someone way more famous than you
  • Classroom teachers don’t remain with students during presentation
  • Presentation scheduled during students’ usual lunch period
  • Presentation scheduled immediately after gym or recess of kids of pre-deodorant age
  • Presentation in room next to a loud activity (such as band practice)
  • People regularly coming in and out of the room during the presentation—and letting door slam each time
  • Presentation in gym and basketball hoop blocking screen (this has really happened to me; it actually took some work for me to convince the organizer to raise it)
  • School changes audience make-up in an impractical way without giving you warning (such as grouping kindergartners with sixth graders)
  • Accidentally saying a word you shouldn’t in front of the kids (this happened only once to me and the word wasn’t so bad that I felt guilty when it slipped out)
  • No available parking space in school lot
  • Forgetting flash drive in school computer when leaving
  • Forgetting flash drive at home
  • Leaving the same time the buses are so you get trapped behind them for 30 minutes

Authors—please add to the list in the comments.

All of this is said with affection. None of this—even all of this—is enough to deter me from continuing to do as many school visits as possible. It is one the greatest joys and perks and privileges of my job.

Everything worthwhile involves a challenge at some point. And most things at one time frustrating become funny in hindsight.

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