Last school year I attempted to orchestrate career speakers for the first time. I’d found some other posts that wrote about how they did it, but every school is really different and I found that no one else’s logistics matched our needs. In the event that what we did may work for you, here’s some of the nitty gritty details of ours.
I had recently done a multiple intelligences lesson with my 4th graders and so while I wanted the students exposed to a variety of careers, I wanted them to keep thinking about careers that aligned with their interests and strengths. From the beginning, my intern and I decided to group career speakers into career clusters. We used:
- Health and Body
- Community Helpers
- Music and Art
We knew that we also wanted a plan where:
- Students didn’t move
- Students got to hear from 3+ speakers
- We didn’t need one gazillion speakers (most students’ parents are employed but not necessarily in “careers” so it was a little tricky to get speakers)
- All 375ish 3rd and 4th grade students could participate
This was how we did it:
1. Email all of our staff, faculty, friends, and family in the area to ask for referrals for speakers. As we received them, we entered them into a google doc spreadsheet with their name, contact info, whether they’d been contacted, and whether they’d been confirmed.
2. Email/call referrals and ask (beg) them to come speak to our students. As they were confirmed, I started to form rooms (for example Rm 9 – STEM – Biomed Researcher, Civil Engineer, Physics Professor, Audio Technician) and then emailed them more info.
3. About two weeks before the event, all students in 3rd and 4th grades were given a slip to indicate their top two preferences for career clusters. I sorted them a few different ways and created a pile for each. I then created a little business-card sized “pass” with a room # and the students name and teacher name. Next year, I will have the room compositions created ahead of time, have the students rank the rooms in order of preference, and I will just highlight the room they are assigned to.
4. The day before the event, I sent information to all of the teachers involved so they knew how to help orchestrate things that morning. I also had a “room host info sheet” that I sent to teachers whose classrooms we were using.
5. The morning of the event, all the speakers checked into one place where I gave them donuts, coffee, and a schedule for their morning. After a brief welcome speech, we escorted them to their rooms and got the show on the road!
6. Students had a worksheet to fill out while listening to help keep them engaged. I admit, I was worried about some of my special friends acting out a little but all the students were on their best behavior and seemed to really enjoy the morning.
I received more direct positive feedback from teachers about this than about anything else I’ve ever done – they were so grateful for their students to have had some exposure to different careers. Several suggested I do a few smaller versions of it throughout the school year (along the lines of blogosphere’s famous “career cafes”). My hope for the future is to find a way to provide career speaker programming to all of the grades.
Through the wonderful connections of my school’s staff (and an amazing intern with strong ties to the community), these were the careers represented:
-elephant sanctuary workers
-professional hockey team sales reps