Good teachers are experts. To be a good teacher, you have to have some passion about your content. You might be an expert in early childhood education, or you might be an expert in a specific subject. What is difficult though is being an expert in one specific topic, Teachers have to be broad, so that's why it’s always good to have ways to bring other experts into your class. It's also always good to have different viewpoints.
That's the whole point of this post. Below you will find my top 5 ways to being other experts into your class. Some of them are easy, but others might require you to step out of your comfort zone to ask. If it's all about what’s best for kids, isn't that something we should be doing anyway?
Skype in the Classroom site is great. You can find experts, authors, and even other classrooms to connect and work with. You can also put your name put there to see if you can get someone specific. It even has plans and guides to get you started. There are of course other video conferencing platforms out there, but Skype is the one that gives you the runway to get started quickly.
2. Your Local University:
No matter where you are, there is usually a local university that is within a mornings drive from you. Yes, if you are super rural it might be a long drive, but it's doable. These universities can be great places to find experts. You just have to be careful who you get though..
University lecturers typically aren't best folks for kids, but some of the researchers and others around the University can be. They can have an expertise in a topic that a regular teacher just can't. I am thinking of folks like the head of the engineering design lab who can talk about their prototyping process and the machines they use. Folks like that can just add to the classroom, and they should be pretty easy to connect with.
3. Your Community Members and Parents
Schools and community should go hand in hand. It becomes a different mindset to think about schools as community centers, but if we can shift that way it will do more for improving poor-performing schools than any initiative we may come up with. Using the communities expertise is a great way to bring in experts.
I think sometimes finding the right experts here is obvious, but I think there are other solutions you may not even be thinking of. Schools in rural areas could bring in people like local farmers to talk about technique with FFA kids. There are just so many options. It's just a matter of finding them.
Brining experts into your class is kind of a common sense thing right? Well, it would make sense that there would be a company that does it for profit, and that company is called Nepris. The whole point of Nepris is to make things as easy as possible. The best thing about it is they do all the work.
Nepris tends to be very STEM-focused, but that definition can almost apply to anything. It has ways to request a specific topic and person, but it also has some pre-setup talks and videos you can use. If you need something that is just easy and you have the budget, this might be the way to go.
5. Social Media
Social Media has its ups and down but where it can have a significant impact in the classroom is its ability to bring experts in. Instagram and Twitter especially tend to be the actual person responding, and even if you are scared of the kids being there you can always ask that person to be part of your class. It could even start pretty simply.
You could start by simply tagging an expert in some of your existing classroom activities. Many times experts feel great about being tagged in school activities, and they will respond accordingly. I have seen a high school ELA teacher get an author this way, and I actually had the former head of Google HR respond when someone tagged him in a post after one of my sessions.
This blog is written by David Lockhart who is all about coding. If you want to chat about your school's coding and STEM goals. Schedule a time HERE.