You’re seriously considering kicking off your schoolwide initiative, school year, or second semester by inviting a guest speaker to your school. The speaker or organization’s website looks great, the video clips are engaging, and there are even solid references. But will your school see benefits after the considerable time, effort, and resources invested?
Let me start off by answering the obvious question:
Do Guest Speakers Work?
Being a guest speaker IS work. I’m blessed to be a part of a profession that exists to help others. I strive to bring relevant, usable information, grounded in research, to the schools I visit. So in that sense, yes, guest speakers do work. But you’re probably curious about how my presentation will work for your school. Here are the three things any effective speaker – myself included – will bring to a school assembly:
How Guest Speakers Work
“Solve Our Problems” — Expectations
Perhaps the most important concept to grasp up front is that guest speakers need to fit into the supports that already exist within a school’s culture. It’s unrealistic to think that even a dynamic, entertaining, or impactful gathering will solve a school’s issues in a single assembly. That’s why an existing schoolwide initiative like Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) are so very important. Your staff and students must do the daily hard work it takes to make a difference regarding bullying. A guest speaker who shares curricular materials for students, staff, and parents, as well as excellent resources, will help your entire school implement after a remarkable, communal experience.
“Tell Our Kids What You Did” — Best Practices
Certainly, a guest speaker should be grounded in best practice regarding their topic. Bringing your school together is no small task, so information shared should be very current and research-based. Clarity in message is also a requirement. A speaker doing a great job will present key concepts in a memorable way to your parents, staff, and students. Additionally, it’s also about “from this point forward.” So, what call to action has your guest speaker left with your school? How should your school climate be affected by such a positive event?
“Let Me Entertain You” — Dynamic
Finally, a speaker should be engaging. Different speakers use different techniques to grab and hold an audience’s attention. That being said, a focus on positivity and an uplifting message are key. Without a doubt, students must understand the impact that they can have on one another. Appropriate examples of unfortunate consequences might need to be shared, but the presentation should empower and inspire students. Everyone involved should want to take what they’ve just experienced and utilize it in their own unique way.
Guest Speakers Make a Difference
Great content delivered by a remarkable guest speaker can be a springboard moment for any school. Effective anti-bullying programs use the excitement built by a guest speaker to reinforce anti-bullying guidelines long after the assembly is over. How exciting to see an entire school community forge ahead making a difference in their own lives and the lives of others. So, do your research, ask colleagues for recommendations, or even contact us here at reACT to Bullying to help you inform, equip, and inspire your school!