As school budgets have tightened, teachers and administrators have been pressed to do more with less time and money. Enrichment activities meant to supplement school curriculum are as important as ever, but delivery of those activities had to be streamlined to fit neatly into the precious little space allotted for them.
In recent years, many schools have moved away from the field trip for enhancing their curriculum, turning instead to hosting programs in the school classroom. Guest presenters offer similar benefits to the field trip, providing fresh perspectives, variety, and another level of expertise. The in-school presentation not only helps schools to save money on transportation and save time from a meticulously organized schedule, it has been shown to benefit schools and students in additional, unexpected ways:
- In-school delivery gives presenters the opportunity to meet students and teachers on their own turf. In observing students’ circumstances and learning environments, presenters can better understand students’ needs.
- Classrooms are generally comprised of students with varying levels of academic understanding and achievement. The in-class presentation takes advantage of the familiar, comfortable environment to better accommodate those varied needs.
- Classroom teachers who are in attendance have reported that they were surprised to be ancillary learners, taking away their own updated skills and knowledge from in-class presentations.
- Members of a school’s administration and staff are likely to witness in-school programs, resulting in a “cross-pollination” of information that can positively impact the entire school’s prevailing attitudes and culture.
- Schools have reported that students who received programs in their own schools were more likely to remain focused, maintain classroom standards of quiet, and to ask relevant questions than they would during a field trip.
- In-school presentations save transportation time and costs, but also preserve calm and focus for instruction that is often lost preceding and following the disruption of a field trip.
Despite field trips’ undeniable benefit to students and schools seeking enrichment opportunities, the benefit of some types of field trips has been largely overshadowed by the benefits of keeping programs close to home, especially as technology-assisted programs have replaced the need for students to leave the classroom to experience visual and interactive features.
The in-school speaker model has long been a productive supplement to regular academics. It improves student engagement and, therefore, increases impact. In order to get the most impact from a guest speaker experience, introduce the presentation at a meaningful intersection of the curriculum it’s meant to supplement. Spend some time preparing students for the content that will be introduced by the speaker and have them prepare some questions in advance. Following the guest program, take some time to review the material and utilize any teaching tools provided by your presenter.