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Classroom Management: Guest Speakers Support Learning

Janelle Cox

Guest speakers have become an important part of the educational experience for students. They expose students to real-world life experiences from the position of someone who has been there. Students get to see the insight and perspective of the guest speaker’s particular field.

One important benefit that is derived from having a guest speaker is the enhancement of the students’ educational experience. They essentially get a glimpse into the everyday life of the speaker, which they can’t get anywhere else. Another added benefit is the link that students get to make between what they learn in their textbooks and what they learn from the guest speaker. Research indicates that it helps students build important connections between what they are learning and the real world.

Guest speakers offer something that you can’t offer your students; a different perspective. Have you ever been teaching a subject, and then all of a sudden you realize that the students just don’t understand what you are trying to say? A guest speaker supports a topic that you may know little about and can offer your students a different point of view, one that they may better understand. It gives them the opportunity to learn something new, while it gives you a break. You may find that you end up learning something new in the process.

A professional, experienced guest speaker can really make an impact on your students. They may be able to drive home a concept that you just couldn’t nail down. For example, if you were using classroom management to teach your students about texting and driving and the ramifications of it, but you found that they really didn’t grasp what you were trying to say, you could get a parent who has lost a child to a texting driver. Hearing a story from a parent who has lost a child could really make an impact on your classroom.

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Classroom Management: Choosing a Guest Speaker

There are several ways that you can choose a potential guest speaker for your classroom. The quickest and easiest way is through word of mouth. Ask your colleagues or send a department-wide e-mail inquiring if anyone is a suitable candidate for the topic you need. Usually, individuals recommended are reliable and have been used in the educational system before.

Another source of information is through your local community. Some communities have specific people that they use for educational purposes only. In fact, may police, fire stations, and local serve men have specific speakers that go out to schools and speak on their behalf.

How to Host a Guest Speaker

1. Contact the speaker to establish a date and time.

2. Inform the guest of the technology that is available for them to use.

3. Instruct the guest speaker on where to park, and how they should go to the main office to sign in.

4. Confirm a date and time a few days prior to the event.

5. Prepare the students a day or two before. You can do this by brainstorming questions that they can ask the guest speaker.

6. Be sure to be a gracious host and give your guest a thank-you gift. A good idea is to either have one already made by the students to give to the speaker, or to have the students make a gift after the presentation and mail it to them.

7. Follow up with a thank you note.

How to Get the Most from Your Speaker

Here are a few tips on how to get the most from your guest speaker while they are in your classroom.

  • Be sure that you prepare your students about the topic that the guest speaker will be talking about. You will want to challenge their listening skills so it’s a good idea to ask students to prepare a set of questions to ask the speaker.
  • More than likely you are tying your guest speaker with something that your students are learning in the classroom. If you are not, then it’s important to do so. Research shows that guest speakers help build a link between academics and the expert. If you are doing a unit on food, then invite a chef; if you are doing a unit on the military then invite a serviceman.
  • Make sure that after the speaker leaves you debrief the students to maximize their learning. The more that you talk about what they had just learned the more that they will benefit from it.

Inviting guest speakers to your classroom is a not only a wonderful way for students to learn about a specific topic, but it also introduces them to other professions and career opportunities. Whether you invite a veteran, policeman, author, professor, nurse, veterinarian, dentist, musician, or lawyer, your students will leave the experience with more knowledge then they came into with.

Do you invite guest speakers to your classroom? Which speakers did you find had the most impact on your students and why? Please share your thoughts in them comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators