Happy New Year to all. As promised in my Dec 21 blog, here are some tips that I would like to pass on, from my experience presenting to four different middle school groups in October last year, from grades 5 through 8.
- Tailor your videos to the age group. The 5th grade group will relate much better to animation or more light hearted videos that still get the message acrosss, whereas 8th graders will relate better to more serious videos that relay messages in a more mature manner that does not make them feel that they are being approached as a younger child.
- Try to match the approximate age of the actors in the video to your audience's age group. This helps them to better relate to the material if they see the actors as peers in terms of age.
- Use a good amount of videos in your presentation, but keep them at a reasonable time limit (no more than 4-6 minutes), and always allow for discussion immediately after. Students at each grade, from 5 to 8, consistently wanted more and more videos. They related well to the videos and wanted to discuss them quite a bit. I was impressed with their attentiveness to the videos that I presented.
- Take the time to watch the videos yourself as you look around on YouTube. This was quite inspiring to me, and some were very moving, which motivated me even more on the topics I spoke of.
- Try to stay with videos that ISC2 has endorsed, or that Childnet International have endorsed. This is just a good pratice to ensure video quality and appropriateness.
- If you question anything in a video, look for a suitable replacement, or allow the school principal to view the video before you present, just to be safe.
- Ask the school if it is permissable to hand out candy or small trinkets to the students, in addition to the wristbands that ISC2 provides. This was a huge success for my groups in October due to the Halloween holiday being right around the corner. Ask the school for permission first, though. I also used plain rubber band bracelets.
- Ask the principal or a teacher to provide you with a volunteer or two, to help you hand out candy and bracelets when a student answers a question or provides some feedback. This will help you with time, and encourages the students even more. I would suggest letting the principal or teacher choose the volunteers. They will know who the best helpers are.
- Try to be random as you call on students that raise their hand. Scan the room and try to move from one side to the other to avoid focusing on one part of the room. This way the students feel they have a chance at being called upon, and they will keep trying to participate.
- As students provide feedback or ask/answer questions, always take their statement as being something valuable. Even if it is simple or a repeat that someone has else already said, the idea is to reinforce their comments as being valued. This will encourage them even more if they feel you care about what they have to say.
- Sometimes a student will get embarassed and forget what they wanted to say or clam up. Just ask them another simple question quickly if this happens, to ease their fear of speaking.
- If others laugh or tease a student for speaking, try to deter this behavior and redirect the conversation so that all students are forced to engage on the topic. You want to use this as a way of deterring a form of bullying right there on the spot.
- Dress professionally but comfortably.
- Be upbeat and excited about your topics.
- Test the audiovisual equipment ahead of time. You never know how your presentation will look on screen. Test sound as well.
- If possible, make an appointment with the principal before you present. Use this as a time to ask what problems they see the most at their school, or what they would like you to focus the most on. This can really be beneficial. Ask about this per age group as well. For example, at the school I presented at, the 8th grade was experiening much more cyberbullying issues than the 5th grade, so i was asked to focus more on cyberbullying for the 8th grade group.
- Speak clearly and move around. Make them feel like you are among the group rather than lecturing to the group.
- Bring water. If you are not used to presenting to large groups, you may be suprised at how quickly your throat will dry.
- Use humor. Use references to movies or characters the age group can recognize and relate to. You have to make them feel like you "get" them and understand who they are.
- At the end, you may have students approach you to tell a story or ask a question that they didn't want to voice during the presentation. Listen attentively and make them feel they have your attention. Time will be limited most likely, so try to take in as much as you can and provide feedback.
I hope this helps you as you go out to the schools and present this important material, for this great cause that is becoming more prevalent everyday!