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Career and Technical Education (CTE)

Discover 5 Ways to Get Guest Speakers in Your CTE Classroom

November 11th, 2018 | 4 min. read

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Students often struggle with connecting the dots between what they are doing in class to what they will do in the workforce. They get frustrated when they can’t see a point to what they are learning, and sometimes, they just give up. However, CTE classes have the unique ability to give students purpose by linking the classroom and the real world. A way you can reinforce this connection is by inviting guest speakers to your classroom. For example, your students are going to be a lot more likely to try to remember a finance formula when a professional comes in and tells your them that he or she used it just the other day.

Guest speakers are also a great way to open students eyes to the possibilities after graduation. By listening to someone else’s story, your students will be exposed to jobs they could be performing in the future and some of the ways to get there. They can also learn of options they may never have even considered.

To put this idea into practice, here’s a list of five ways to help you get guest speakers into your classroom.


1. Invite Previous Students

Alumni are the perfect candidates to speak to your students, and the more recent graduation date, the better. Your students will likely be more readily willing to ask questions from someone closer their own age, so this is perfect for the classes you have a hard time getting interaction from. In fact, an alum will likely know more about what your students are going through than you do. They have sat in the very seats your current students sit in.

They can speak about their career path, but they can also give advice about what they wish they had done in high school, what they wish they hadn’t done, and how to succeed after high school. An added bonus: alumni are often more than willing to give back to the teachers and the educational institution that got them where they are today.


2. Seek out University Student Recruiters

Most universities have an official student recruiter. Better yet, some have programs within each college where current students come directly to your classroom. They can usually give a presentation about the different degrees available, why they should choose that university, why they should go to college in the first place, and what their personal experience has been.

While a student can recruit for their college and for the university as a whole, they can also answer questions about college life in general (school appropriate, of course). Try reaching out to the collegiate department that houses your subject area and see if they have someone that could come speak to your students. If you aren’t immediately close to a university or junior college, no worries! Most have travel budgets if you live within a reasonable distance.


3. Use Technology

If distance is a problem, consider using technology. We live in a global age where companies are increasingly turning towards technology to run their businesses, and in fact, most larger companies include some sort of video conferencing in their hiring process.

Try asking your chosen guest speaker to Skype, Facebook call, or even FaceTime when he or she can’t make the physical journey to your school. As an added bonus, your students will be more prepared for future live video interviews and will get to see a glimpse of how the current virtual business environment works.


4. Up Your LinkedIn Game

Since most industry professionals are on LinkedIn, it is the perfect platform to connect with potential guest speakers. You can either use your current connections or use the search feature to find an appropriate candidate.

Pro tip: you can contact the individual directly through LinkedIn’s InMail feature as opposed to spending your valuable time digging around Google for their email or contacting their company’s HR department and hoping they’ll pass you along to the right person.

Additionally, LinkedIn is a job seeker’s paradise, so you could potentially find recruiters who are looking to hire part-time employees and/or interns. Even if the speaker isn’t looking to hire, your students will benefit from conversing directly with industry professionals about their day-to-day operations, company culture, and tips for career success.


5. Collaborate with teachers from other subject areas

Maybe your school is hesitant towards visitors, or maybe you just want to try something new. A fun option to consider is to try switching it up and trade classrooms for the day with a fellow teacher. CTE subject areas are so often interconnected, and your students could benefit from the change in perspective.

For example, a health science teacher could teach veterinary medicine students about injections, and the students can make comparisons between human and animal injections. Or an agricultural science teacher can teach family and consumer science students about food production. A law teacher could teach health students about forensics, and the list goes on.

In any case, you’ll get to broaden your horizons and your students will get to compare and contrast topics between different industries, discover new ways to learn and explore how each topic affects the world.