While I wait to hear back from the agents I've queried, I sometimes build my author visit skills by volunteering and guest teaching at my kids schools. As soon as I have a traditionally published book to promote, I will be charging a fee and will need to do some relabeling.
"Parent Volunteer" becomes "Published Author"
As a parent volunteer, I have read picture books to several grade-school classes from Kindergarten through 5th grade. All of these classes are in own children's school. As a published author, I will be reading my own books, having built the read-aloud skills needed to expand my reach beyond my own children's school district.
"Guest Teacher" becomes "Guest Speaker"
My local middle school loves having me come and teach their ELA classes for a day. I always pick a topic from my current State Standards (found on the web) and build a 45-minute lesson around it. As a guest teacher, I've taught 7th and 8th graders, and will be teaching the 6th graders this year. When I'm published, I will be doing essentially the same thing as a guest speaker. However, I will then be charging a fee. Without the proper teaching credentials to back it up, "guest teaching opportunities" in a public school setting might seem deceptive.
"Workshops" becomes "Visits"
As an aspiring author, I've lead many writing workshops. But when I become a professional author, those workshops will need to be relabeled as visits. For many teachers, the entire school day is essentially a string of workshops. Regardless of the grade, students are given assignments and projects - sometimes to finish within a set amount of time - along with instructions. That's what a writing workshop is! So why couldn't the teacher simply take my book and lead the workshop herself?
As a published author, I will use the label "author visit" to highlight that I am a visiting professional who can add something to the class that is worth my fee.
NOTE: I do plan to lead writing workshops - and call them that - but outside the traditional public school setting.
"Events" becomes "Assemblies"
It's always fun to help my PTA put together events. Often, I've found myself onstage keeping the students in their seats while teachers and parents prepare the next activity. These skills will translate well when I'm the star attraction at assemblies.
"Stations" becomes "Book Fair Package"
My children's elementary school has what the teachers call "stations" - small groups that rotate to different areas of the room where they are assigned a 20-minute activity. As a parent, I've often been in charge of a "station" where I had to quickly assess the skill level of the group and then adjust the activity accordingly.
When I am published, I'd like to use these skills and offer a similar experience where I sit at a booth and small groups can come to me for a simple activity related to my book. I will call this - you guessed it - the "Book Fair Package" which will include an assembly or class visits.
"Craft" becomes "Add-ons"
Because I'm comfortable planning and executing a simple craft in a classroom situation, this is something I can offer as an add-on for an extra fee on my author website.
"Volunteer Time" becomes "Visit Length"
The label change is obvious, but what I learned from my author friends is that I will no longer get to choose how long the visit will be. When I'm charging for my time, it will be the school's decision how much to buy. However, I've noticed that teachers are more flexible on dates and times. Teachers seem to spend more time saying, "Whatever works best for the author" than actually picking a date and time.
I've seen authors utilize scheduling programs on their website for that very reason. Not a bad idea.
"Lesson Plan" becomes "Itinerary"
As a guest teacher, I try to incorporate small group and partner activities, to break up the session and allow students to learn from their peers. I usually send the teacher a lesson plan ahead of time, so that he can help with crowd control and also so that the method to my madness is known. When I'm a published author, these lesson plans will become itineraries to give the impression, "this is what you're paying me for" rather than "this is what I'll be teaching."
"Supplies" becomes "Marketing Kit"
As a volunteer, I've observed students needing to write in all situations. I've seen them outside crouched on the grass trying to use their legs as a hard surface.
It doesn't work.
When I am visiting other schools, I will need to be prepared for these situations. If the class is "called to the carpet," because a special visitor is here (namely me), how can I expect them to help me write a story?
As I won't be able to always count on the school to provide me with supplies, I plan to bring my own "marketing kit", including some hard surface for students to write on.
One idea is to spray paint 8 1/2 X 11 cardboard "clipboards" and hot glue a large binder clip to the top. If I use whiteboard paint, the clipboards can double as a personal whiteboard. Heavy duty sheet protectors also work for this.
"Homework" becomes "Bonus Activity"
When I'm guest teaching, I like to give an extra assignment that students can take home and apply what I've taught. I always leave it up to the teacher whether to grade the homework, so that it isn't extra work for her. However, calling that extra assignment 'homework' when I'm getting paid to give it may not be the best idea. Instead, I plan to call it a 'bonus activity' which sounds more like a pleasant surprise than an assignment.
Only ONE elementary, ONE middle school, and ONE high school gets my services completely free - and that's my own kids' schools. The relabeling comes in when I offer my services to OTHER schools.
I encourage you to adhere to a similar policy if you are unpublished. If you are published, don't be afraid to charge for your services. You're worth it!
I write about, with, for, and around kids all day. (Well, maybe I do the dishes too. Sometimes.)