Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Yes, You Can Teach a Writing Class: Follow My Lead by Kathy Halsey

Utilize Your Background

First an educator, then a school librarian, now a children's writer. In my career path, I am now on job 3.5. The .5 job is my new iteration, Kathy, the writing teacher! After our move back to Ohio, I surveyed my new environment. In my small suburb, Gahanna, they have a strong parks and recreation program. When I picked up my recycle bins at city hall, I also picked up the summer program guide which had 14 pages of youth programming and tons of classes for active adults, but only one class related to writing. 
Lesson #1: I could fulfill a niche and a need.
Well-versed in researching, querying, and pitching as a writer, I repurposed these skills to craft my own class. I read the blurbs in the program guide, then created my own blurb and title. (Picture Books 101: Hard Work but Lots of Fun.) Similar to a writer's pitch, I gave a brief, enticing view of the class and what the participant would gain. I created a bio that focused on my years as a teacher, librarian, writer, and Gahanna resident.  
My cover letter (query) to the director of parks and rec explained how a well-educated suburb like Gahanna needed to provide residents with literary options along with the robust senior, camp, and children's offerings.  A month later, the assistant director contacted me, and I replied w/links to my blog and some posts from the GROG. Before my face-to-face interview, I created a possible 6-10 week syllabus for his perusal, too.
Lesson #2:  Use your writing chops to your advantage.

At our interview, I referenced my book talking "job" at indie bookstore Changing Hands. (I volunteered but could take home any book I wanted to read and return; I received 20% off all inventory.) I offered to add a program for seniors if the writing class did not suit Gahanna's needs. Just as we authors need an inventory of polished stories to offer agents/editors, I needed a few class options for the assistant director to consider.
Lesson #3: The Comparisons Continue
Gahanna City is "my agent," they take a percentage of the revenue generated by the class, and they help w/publicity, BUT, I have to do my part, also, to make the class viable. I advertise via Facebook, here with this post, through library friends, and my school library professional organization. 
Yes, just like publishing your first book, the work is all up front before the payoff. However, once I create the class content, I can teach this class for other organizations or offer a winter class for those ready to move beyond an introductory class. 

Lesson #4: I took a risk and made a bold move.
I am a pre-published writer. I could think I don't have enough to offer, but I do. I am a successful educator; I know books from my library days; I know beginning writers' needs from my English teaching years; I have an agent, Jodell Sadler. Also, I understand those newbie fears and problems since I faced them and still do at this juncture in my career.  
Last Lesson in this "Kat Chat"
Believe in yourself. Make opportunities happen. Seize your day, NOW.
Shameless promotion: The new program guide is not yet up for fall, but if you live in the Columbus area, check out registration for my class and contact the Gahanna Parks and Recreation Department.




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27 comments:

  1. Good for you, Kathy! You will get others off to a good start!

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  2. Wow, Kathy, good for you! As another pre-published author, I've told myself I certainly don't have anything I could teach as I am not "successful" yet as determined by that "hard to get" publishing contract. . . .but you've given some great food for thought.

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    1. Deb, I beg to differ w/you. You know lots.

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  3. Good for you, Kathy! Use those skills to help others learn to write... fabulous!

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    1. Juliana, I love teaching. Cannot stay away from it!

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  4. OK, Kathy...you've inspired me to start job 2.5!

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    1. yay, that was the whole point of this post. Go for it.

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  5. This is great, Kathy! I love how you saw an opportunity and took it. I'm also an educator, so this was inspiring as well. Thanks for that!

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  6. This is an inspiring blog, Kathy. Take what "I" have, enhance upon it, and go for it!!! Thank you.

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  7. Any student will be lucky to have you, Kathy. Good luck on job 3.5!

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  8. Great post by a gracious lady :) I wish you good luck and I know you will help many along the road to writing!

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    1. I appreciate you cheering me on, Charlotte.

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  9. Well done, Kathy! Great idea to get income and exposure for your craft. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. TY, Kristi. You know that teacher learn the most when they teach. I am looking forward to this.

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    1. Appreciate you stopping gby to read this, Jilanne!

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  12. Awesome, Kathy, for being proactive in this area! When do your classes begin?

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    1. Tina, the first week on September, Wednesday nights from 6:30-8 PM. I hope I get a good crowd.

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  13. Your students are lucky, Kathy. Appreciations for this post!

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  14. Congrats, Kathy! Your .5 job sounds fun and perfect for you!

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  15. Best wishes teaching the class, Picture Books 101: Hard Work but Lots of Fun, Kathy. Together you and your students will learn and grow.
    ~Suzy

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