Have you ever been required to present on certain topics to students or staff? Can you remember the dread you felt -- especially if you wanted to at least keep them conscious?
I don’t care how much of a rock star you are in the classroom or the office. Unless you can shoot lasers out of your fingertips, you’re not going to always be a successful presenter to your students.
Your learners show up without supplies or materials. Their technology has dead or dying batteries. Plus they have this endless need to be entertained. (We're not just talking about child learners here!)
How do you single-handedly deal with the toughest crowd on the planet while simultaneously trying to educate?
One word: STAKEHOLDERS. Stakeholders have an interest in your success. In schools and school districts, there are LOTS of different stakeholders.
Let’s look at some examples and how they can be tied into lessons, projects, guest speakers, or field trips.
5 secret weapons to educator success
Secret Weapon #1: Parents, Guardians and Family Members
Parents have been some of my best classroom guest speakers. Some of the best classroom donations have come from parents, guardians, and family members of my students.
How to do this: Students tell you about the people they live with all the time. The next time a student tells you about what happened recently in their lives, just listen. You just might hear about their uncle who is a police officer (possible guest speaker) or a parent who works at McDonald’s (possible incentives/rewards like coupons).
Secret weapon #2: Community members
A teachers and a friend were discussing drones and how they work. The teacher asked his friend, “Since you’re licensed to fly drones, would you mind coming to my class and teaching the students about the science of drones?" The friend said yes! He showed up with his drones. He gave demonstrations. He taught them about thrust, gravitational pull, and camera stabilization. The high school students were still talking about it several months later.
How to do this: Ask the Chamber of Commerce in your area about community members and businesses that like to assist schools. Ask city employees (i.e. first responders) to give presentations or demonstrations. Send surveys to parents/guardians about possible professions or hobbies to draw from.
Secret weapon #3: Other educators or staff members
My officer manager is from Germany. I love speaking with people from other countries! When I first met her, I asked her all kinds of questions. It turned out she can speak FIVE languages and has lived in several different countries. When our campus was teaching students about various Christmas and holiday traditions, she gave an amazing presentation the students loved!
How to do this: Create a survey or email for co-workers to complete and return to you. You’re surrounded by great people. Use them!
Secret weapon #4: Previous students
I had an extremely intelligent student who struggled with staying out of trouble. He dropped out of school, but he ended up following his passion of being a rapper. Although he didn’t graduate, he started a contracting business for his day job. He was married with three children and STILL found time to record his first album with his own money. He had such a positive message to send to all students. I invited him to speak at our high school graduation. Pay attention to the voices your students will listen to.
How to do this: Stay in touch with students. If you want to stay in contact with students using social media, I suggest that you NOT use your personal account. Create an account that’s just for your students to keep you posted on about their lives.
Bonus secret weapon: The students themselves!
One year, I worked with at-risk students. These high school students' reading and writing levels measured in the elementary range. Other teachers couldn’t get them to write essays or journal entries. One day, several of them asked if they could play a game of dominoes. I agreed if they would write about how to play dominoes first, step by step. They all yelled, “Okay!” and stampeded back to their desks. I didn't say it was a group project, but they were planning, writing, revising, and editing about a topic that interested them -- together!
How to do this: Hand out a Getting to Know You Form on the first day of school (or any day for that matter). It’s an ice-breaker, an easy grade for students, and an inconspicuous way to compile intelligence on your students.
Find your stakeholders and you’ll find educational resources like no other.
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