Sunday, 15 March 2015

Build a Book Workshop Chapter 2 Setting up your workshop

Hopefully, you will now have made some of the crucial decisions we talked about in the previous chapters. You can’t really get down to detailed planning until you know the following:
·         Who will take part in the workshop
·         How you will time it
·         Whether you will complete tasks outside the core workshop time (and remember, some you will have to) 
·         Whether you are going to get outside help
·         Whether you have a predetermined theme for your anthology or whether you are going to negotiate this with your students as part of the workshop.
·         How you will cope with post-workshop processing e.g. getting the work finished and doing the technical tasks.
·         How you want to market the book – on top of what the students are doing   
The photocopiable resource contains a template of this list to aid you.
You may also find it useful to think about which charity to support. Even if you are going to invite students to decide for themselves, it is useful to have a few suggestions. You can also do some preliminary research on those that you choose. 

Your tasks 

You have a number of tasks to perform:
·         Make the decisions posted above.
·         Engage and enthuse your colleagues, students, their parents and the Board of Governors.
·         Contact all the support people, clarify their tasks, and complete any checks.  
·         Get out information about the workshop.
·         Plan the logistics of the day, including organising space.
·         Plan the activities of the day.
·         Contact the support workers and thank them.
·         Make sure that work is finished and edited.
·         Upload the book to a printer.
·         Market and sell the book.
·         Have a book launch
·         Evaluate the whole workshop and decide whether to do it again. Consider any changes you might make.
·         Extend the life of the book.      

Critical time-planning

Many projects fall apart because critical time-planning has been ignored. Basically, critical time-planning is recognising that you can’t install the roller-blind in the bathroom before you have put down the foundations of the house. Some tasks cannot be started until others have been completed.  
The check-list at the end of this chapter suggests a critical-time plan for your event. The timings assume you are working mainly on your own and you are allowed no extra time for planning your workshop. How you want to market the book – on top of what the students are doing   
You can shorten this: another element of critical-time planning is that bringing in more labour can shorten the time taken for the job. If you want a house fitted out in a week instead of a month, you employ four carpenters instead of one.        

Space for your workshop

You might like to give some thought to where the workshop might take place. It’s ideal to have easy access to the following:
·         Space where the students can sit and listen to you, a colleague or a visiting writer. Sitting in a circle allows for an effective intimacy.
·         Space where students can work on their own.
·         Space where students can work in small groups.
·         A suite of computers, though a class set of lap tops or iPads may also work.
The photocopiable resource contains a template of this list to aid you.
Don’t forget also to arrange a logical way of getting the students’ work in one place. It’s an idea to get the site-manager on board. Move furniture if you have to.
If you’re going to be working in several different rooms, take care that you can easily monitor that the students stay in the rooms and don’t spend too much time moving between rooms.

        Some points to ponder

Enthusing others

This really will take time and persistence. Eventually, if you manage to stay enthusiastic yourself, others will catch on. 

Contacting support workers

You will need to communicate with these several times. See checklist.
Note also that if you are working with professional writers who are going to be paid, they will have their own terms and conditions. These may be at odds with your school’s terms and conditions. Professional writers are generally registered self-employed and pay their own National Insurance contributions. It is extremely irksome to them if your school insists on processing them through payroll as they then have to pay National Insurance again.  In fact, many refuse downright to work with schools that insist on this. I personally even find it a bit of an affront to be asked to provide a company invoice. I have a clear individual relationship with the Inland Revenue. And if you insist on a company invoice, that “company” may be VAT registered so you may have to pay VAT on the workshop.
Do also remember that if you insist on a  CRB check it will take a while to complete. You might consider only working with people who already have a check or indeed if it is actually necessary as the visitor will never be left alone with students. 
And check out the situation with public liability insurance. Make sure that you and relevant office staff are clear about all of these arrangements.
It is also courteous to pay your visitor promptly.
Before the workshop, make sure they have your contact details and instructions about how to get into the school and where to park if coming by car. It’s often an idea to have them arrive about half an hour after school has started, so that they don’t get mixed up with parents arriving.  
On the day, remember to allow comfort breaks and to feed and water your guest. Allow a little time at the end of the day to get some immediate feedback and make sure your guest knows how to get out of the building. It’s also rather nice if you get a student to thank them at the end of the day – even if they don’t really need thanks as they’re being paid.    

Extending the life of your book

You will probably sell the most number of copies of your book at your book launch and to the friends and a family of the students who appear in it.
It’s a good idea also to badger your colleagues, your board of governors and your PTA – for a little while at least.
A good strategy is to make sure the Head is aware of the whole process and is behind you. S/he will then want to show it off at open evenings, parents’ evenings and to all visitors including the Ofsted inspector. Of course, if you do another Build a Book workshop, the new book will have to take pride of place, but you can always promote you backlist.
Look out for those occasions when you can wheel out your books again – Summer Fetes, Christmas Bazaars etc. Could you get students to read out some of what they have written in assemblies, or at the end-of-term concert?  
If you are working with a charity, they may be willing to support the book – perhaps include it in a Christmas catalogue, at one of their shops or on their web site. You could also arrange other events which support the charity and at which you can sell further copies of the book.          

More about all of this in Chapter 10.