top of page

Guest Speakers: An Easy Way to Increase Student & Parent Engagement in your Science Class!

One of the best ways to help your students understand the value of what they are learning in class is to invite in a guest speaker. I'm sure that you've heard students say something along the lines of "when will I actually use this" in your science class at one point or another. I know that I have... I also get asked about what kinds of jobs you can actually do with "this stuff"... and while most students think of doctors, nurses, engineers and general scientists as jobs you can do with science there are so many more options out there!

When I was teaching at my first-ever job at T.A. Blakelock High School in Oakville, Ontario, Canada I taught a Grade 10 Integrated Science class and in the Ontario curriculum at the time there were 4 units, one for each branch of Science. In the 10th grade the Physics unit was Optics, a tricky branch of Physics, (but one with some fun labs) and students were lacking an understanding of the applicability of the unit. Luckily I know someone who worked with lasers and optics in the Canadian Forces... my Dad.

Since my Dad was also an instructor in the military he was already comfortable speaking to groups of students and was happy to come in and talk to my class about his career and how he used Optics and Science in a variety of ways. It was really great to see my students see a career path that used Science which was something new to them and they had such great questions for him!

Since this first guest speaker experience I have learned a few things that I have since applied to other guest speaker situations. The first is to inform your guest speaker ahead of time about the level of knowledge your students will already have in their area of expertise, luckily my Dad and I would talk about Physics regularly as I was teaching the unit so he knew what the students had learned. It turned out that this was a very helpful for him to have an idea about their learning as it allowed him to answer their questions at an appropriate level. I also learned that when a guest speaker has a good rapport with your students, its worth letting the talk take more time than you planned... this is a unique opportunity for your students, so don't rush it.

After moving to China and beginning my international teaching career finding English-speaking guest speakers became much more challenging, but I was recently able to have another guest speaker at my school here in Morocco and it reminded me of just how valuable they are! One of my Grade 12 IB Biology students has a father who works in Conservation; this students family has been at the school for 14 years and are very active members of the community. When my Grade 12 students chose Option C Ecology & Conservation as their Option I just knew we had to get Mr. Trollip in to talk to the class about his experiences workin in Conservation in three different African countries!

Luckily Mr. Trollip was an enthusiastic guest and we were able to discuss what the class had been learning in Biology so that he knew what to expect. I shared some information about Mr. Trollip with my class beforehand and asked them to prepare some questions to ask him and they obliged with interest. We were really fortunate that our guest even came with presents, he brought along several skulls of different species and an ostrich egg to donate to the class. They are now on my wall and will be used to teach evolution. I made one change to my guest speaker routine this time and planned ahead with a potluck of snacks and drinks (contributed by the students and myself) and I had everyone sign a thank you card in advance so we could give it (along with a little gift) to our guest before he left. Overall, it was an excellent experience and it has inspired me to seek out even more guest speakers in the future.

This excitement and desire to find more guest speakers has inspired me to try out a new student information sheet for next school year. I used to do these in my class years ago, but haven't in a long time as most school information systems are very comprehensive. However, I have realized that I would like to seek out additional information about things like parent careers, language(s) spoken by students and their parents as well as parent interest in things like being a guest speaker or accompanying the class on a field trip. I'd love to find more opportunities to connect my students with other experts both on and off-campus.

To anyone looking to find their first guest speaker....just go for it! Reach out to a parent, a friend or a professional in your life. Make a thank you card and allow for at least 45 minutes of time to talk. Snacks and checking in ahead of time can be helpful to make things run smoothly on the day. It's really worthwhile!

Thanks for reading teachers, travelers and curious souls of all kinds,

The Roaming Scientist



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I'm the kind of teacher who is always trying something new, new labs, new Apps, new scaffolds and even new countries to live and teach in. I'm looking forward to share what I learn with you all through my weekly blog posts. 

Let the posts
come to you.

Thanks for submitting!

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
bottom of page