It’s becoming increasingly popular for schools to organize guest speakers to add value to students’ education and even to assist parents in the community. Guest speakers can provide educational, inspirational and motivational talks, as well as vital information on particular subjects of use and interest to students.
But even more than this, they can support teachers with their first hand knowledge of a particular topic, ranging from how to adjust to high school, studying techniques, and even practical parenting. They can also be used to support and compliment school programs, such as health and drug education.
By choosing to use guest speakers, rather than teachers, schools can bring another dimension to the purely theoretical topics that are being taught in school. The P&C can either choose to pay for the guest speakers outright, or ask for a contribution towards the cost by parents and the community.
But how do you go about finding the right speaker?
There are many sources for ‘guest’ speakers, from people within the community with unique experiences and skills, through to students, former students, business people and even professional public speakers. Here are several popular approaches to sourcing guest speakers;
Trinity College in Beenleigh arranged for their year 12 prefect for Fundraising and the Community to present to the students on the various programs that had been run throughout the year. Using PowerPoint presentations, slide shows and music, they shared information on the charities and organisations that the school was assisting (i.e. Starvation in Africa, Homelessness, Cancer charities) and let the students know much money was raised and where the money was going.
Joel Turner – the ‘Human Beatbox’ from Australian IDOL – was recruited by a teacher who ‘knew someone who knew him’ to visit their school and perform for the students. As a kid who had risen to national fame from a low socioeconomic background, he promoted a message of “believe in yourself and anything is possible”.
Father Chris Riley from Youth Off The Streets visited King Park Public School in Sydney and spoke to students and teachers about selflessness and helping people less fortunate than ourselves after a staff member who knew him made contact. By asking parents and teachers for contacts of famous people, or people who may add value to students, P&Cs may find some speakers more easily.
NOT SO FAMOUS BUT EQUALLY AWESOME FACES
There are dozens of individuals and groups in Australia that specialize in speaking to young people, primary and secondary audiences on broader topics such as motivation, studying etc. However, if there is a particular topic that your school would like to focus on then Google is your best starting point. Speakers can be found from the public and private sector to speak on topics such as health and drug education, environment, disability, and contributing to the community.
Groups such as Rotary and Apex have community programs they are happy to talk to groups about, and government departments such as police, health and ambulance, have staff who are tasked with engaging with the community through schools etc.
Additionally, by spreading the word amongst teachers and parents that you’re seeking guest speakers it’s possible to find business, sports and ‘adventurer’ types who may have inspirational stories they are willing to share.
For those schools in remote areas, or with limited budget to outlay for a speaker, it’s worth considering remote delivery. By using tools like the connected classroom, Skype and YouTube, it’s relatively easy to connect with people across the country, or the world, to hold live or prerecorded presentations.
FINALLY, THREE TIPS FOR CHOOSING GUEST SPEAKERS
It’s important to decide from the outset what learning outcomes should be achieved from the presentation.
It’s difficult for a speaker to cover too much information in one session, so it’s important to set clear expectations with the speaker and to pre-educate students on key messages that will support the speakers aims.
When evaluating speakers, it’s important to meet with the agency or presenter to gain an understanding of their key message, their particular approach and how they ‘fit’ with your schools practices and policies regarding disclosure etc.