“I worked on animating this 7 second shot for about 2 months.” There was a palpable sense of awe in the audience from both staff and students.
I could, and have, utter similar statements to my students about how commitment to detail and work takes time and consistent energy. While some of them may welcome my message and commit to the work at hand in school, I can promise that not every student will listen to my advice. When they hear it from someone practicing in a different field, the message sounds fresh and students pipe up with attention.
That’s why it is important to bring voices from our community into our schools. It’s why it’s important to embrace and seek out these opportunities. For our students to be college and career ready, we need the help of our whole community and network.
Our students need to hear directly from this network as they consider their life path and shape their work ethic. They need to hear it and see it, in order to believe it and achieve it.
Tapping into Our Resources
Last week, amidst AP testing and SBA Make-Up testing, I hosted a Disney animator at my school, who spoke to a self-selected group of students as well as an AVID classroom. How did I score a Disney animator was the question many staff asked me? It happens that I’m friends with a Disney animator, Benson Shum.
We all have friends. We all have networks.
Most of those people in our networks would welcome, possibly even love, the opportunity to talk with our students. Teachers aren’t the only people who want to inspire the next generation.
When was the last time you mentally went down your friends and family rolodex to think about connections to your school life? We should be inviting these people into the school community.
Sometimes, these invitations will come with money attachments, but you’d be surprised how quickly money can be found to invite say a local, nationally recognized author into your school (see page 2).
Advertise, Advertise, Advertise
At a recent workshop, I heard that it takes 11 exposures to a message before it begins to imprint on our minds. When you invite these community members, friends and family into your school, you have to talk about the event and ask in multiple ways and times. Use the school announcements, the school newsletter, email, staff meeting, posters, in person chats.
If you’re spending time bringing someone in because you think that your school will benefit then don’t set yourself up for failure by lack of press. It wasn’t until day four of my daily announcements that I started getting a trickle of students signed up for the animator’s talk. But, after emails, videos and two weeks of announcements, I had 40 students (my maximum) signed up…most of whom signed up in the last three days.
Reach out to the networks within your school community and your content/subject area. What opportunities already exist that your students could be part of? For example, this past weekend, Cavalcade of Authors West took place at Curtis Junior High. COAWest brought in nationally renowned authors to lead writing workshops with middle school and high school students at a small cost to schools or students.
Make it a point as you get to know your students to learn about their goals in life and career.
Think about those people in your life that you’re honored to know and amazed by their talent. Is their talent and message one that will resonate with your students?
Prioritize this work if you really do want students to make long-term connections to being college and career ready. If you don’t prioritize it, it won’t happen.
How can your students’ families be invited into your classroom world? Consider the expertise and knowledge that they have and invite them to share or present.