Getting Help from Guest Speakers Directions
As groups plan projects, they should be identifying the knowledge they will need to carry out their work. The teacher may wish to suggest some possible speakers and have students research them in the context of the activity or project at hand. The teacher may wish to follow procedures such as those listed below.
Select and Invite the Speaker
- Consider information about the experiences, knowledge, and speaking skills of each person under consideration. Then shorten the list to your group's first, second, and third choices.
- Choose several acceptable dates for having a guest speaker. Be sure the dates allow plenty of time to prepare.
- Decide who will contact the first-choice speaker to offer the invitation and how to contact the person. If by telephone, see Making Business Telephone Calls. If by letter, see Writing Business Letters. E-mail communications should be as carefully prepared as a business letter; however, they do not usually include any addresses at the top, and the sender's contact information is usually included after the typed signature, at the bottom of the e-mail message.
- If your group's first choice of speaker is not available, try your second, then third choice if necessary.
- When a speaker has accepted the invitation, find out how you and this speaker can most easily contact each other between now and the visit. Determine who will keep in touch with the speaker.
Prepare the Speaker
- Talk with the speaker and prepare him or her by explaining in detail the context of the classroom visit, characterize the class, and give a brief description of the students' research questions. You may wish to follow the procedure below:
- Discuss with the guest speaker what types of information or experiences would be most helpful for your group. Ask what he or she could share with you.
- Discuss ideas for activities in which all the members of your group could participate. Ask the speaker to bring objects or pictures or give a demonstration, if possible. Find out what kind of space and equipment the group will need to provide.
- Agree on a place, a date, a beginning time, and ending time.
- Tell the speaker about your group. How many students will attend? How old are they? What progress have they already made on the project? What are the next steps? Are there any students with special needs? If so, be prepared to offer the speaker assistance in meeting these needs.
- Confirm plans in writing and give clear directions for the speaker to find the place for the presentation, the place to park, and procedure for finding the classroom.
- A few days before the scheduled visit, call the guest speaker to confirm all the plans. Review the date, time, place, equipment, and activities.
Prepare the Students for the Speaker
- Remind the group who their guest speaker is, and explain all the plans.
- Discuss the rules for polite behavior towards guests.
- Prepare nametags to wear so the guest may call students by name. Divide the group into teams if the speaker is planning team activities.
Coordinate the Day of the Visit
- Select two or three members of the group to greet the guest and offer help when he or she arrives.
- Check to see that the room and equipment are ready.
- Introduce the guest speaker to the group. Set a good example by paying close attention. Offer to help if the opportunity arises. Keep your mind open for ideas for follow-up activities or discussion topics.
- Thank the speaker for visiting.
Conduct Follow-up Activities
- Have students write and send thank-you notes to the guest. The notes might mention what they learned, what they liked most about the presentation, and how they will use what they learned. Drawings or photos are always welcome.
- Decide what follow-up activities to do. There may be an activity from the day of the visit that needs to be completed.
- Share with other people what has been learned. To submit a newspaper article about the presentation, see Preparing a Press Release.