The Rotating Speaker Series

I wrote about my “mini experiment” for secondary enrichment for November and December.  This experiment is what I’m now calling the rotating speaker series.  The idea behind this is that most schools have an opportunity to host an event so enrichment opportunities are accessible to all my students – at no cost or travel expense to them.

In the north, the experiment is wrapping up today. Each school hosted at least one event and every enrichment student was invited to attend.  The bulk of attendees were from the home school, however, some students were willing to travel to participate in something of interest to them at a different school.

Our speakers and topics included: a lawyer from the CAS, a cruelty investigator from the Humane Society, an artistic paint party, and mathematics workshops.  I tried to pick different subject areas and job requirements.  I wanted to engage different senses and emotions.

I’ve already addressed the topics themselves and what we learned, what I’m attempting to do here is rate or reflect upon the experience.

Since I want to end on a positive note, I’m going to start with some improvements I’d like to see for future rotating series’.  I’d like to see more participation or attendance at these events. While having a small group can lead to students feeling safe to express themselves and get the answer they need, I’d still like to see more students take advantage of a free and nearby event.

I’d also like to consider changing the topics offered for the future.  While it’s easy to fall back on familiar contacts, I’d like to push myself further and look for choices that even make me feel a little beyond my comfort zone.

In the north, it worked well that I had enough  events for each school. In the south, I will not have offered something at every school, so I need to make sure that I spread the activities to all.

In seemingly contradiction to my above point, perhaps I bit off more than I can chew by offering 4 speakers in 5 weeks.  If I have a few students that want to attend everything, this is a very busy schedule.  Rotating doesn’t mean I need to address every school every year, but rather every school over the course of a number of years. My attendance issue from above might be improved if there weren’t so many choices.

I definitely think a problem is my physical location. I can’t be everywhere at once, even when I want to be. Even the students have said, “If you were here to remind me…..” When I am in a building, it’s much easier to “round up” students. I can also update bulletin boards, hand out flyers, find students in classes and in the hallways.  Even in a digital world, sometimes they need to physically see and hear me to remember what is happening !

These are some things that I can certainly think on in the coming months.  Even in second semester, I haven’t prepared as many events in such a short time, so I will be able to compare first semester to second and re-evaluate for next year.

To end on a more positive note, what are some things that I think worked well?  I was pleased that I made an effort to plan events in more than one subject area, in an effort to attract a broad spectrum of enrichment students.

I’m pleased that I was able to utilize each school (in the north) with hosting duties.  Each was willing to invite other students to participate and find space for us to use, sometimes for 1 period, sometime for a whole morning or afternoon.

I was pleased that I made an effort to change up length of workshop, days of the week, and times to offer these speakers.

And finally, and I feel most importantly, I got to know a handful of students a lot better. I’m seeing the same faces and recognize students in the hallway.  Because I don’t have my own “classes” it’s harder for me to make connections with my students.  By offering a number of opportunities in different subject areas, I hope to meet more of my students and better understand their needs and wants.

 

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