Today was Career Day at my school. Again, the intent is a good one, but these things tend to get so tedious! Visitors to my class included a vocational school director, a restaurant owner, an electrician for NJ Transit, a nurse, a bank president, and a lawyer/author.
While I respect and appreciate these people for taking the time to come to our school, most had no idea how to speak to kids. They talked and talked and were all over the place. And my students are English Language Learners, so huge parts of what is said gets lost. However, two of the presenters were successful in catching my students' attention.
The electrician had been a former student of the school and was from the community. He brought his gadgets with him, devices/tools he uses daily in his job. The kids got to hold these instruments, examine them, ask questions. Visuals and manipulatives are so important, especially when working with ELLs. This guy was good.
The lawyer/author made on an impression on my students as well, partly because of what he had to say, and because of what I've been doing all year in class. Ken Isaacson http://www.kenisaacson.com/ recently published his first novel Silent Counsel and brought his book to class. My students were excited to meet a "real" author. He discussed his studies and career as an attorney and his newfound satisfaction at finishing his book and seeing it at Barnes & Noble. My students had some great questions about why and how he wrote the book. He told my kids to always think "What If?" and that these two words would lead them to write. Many students shared that they too want to be writers. (How cool is that?) Once he left and we had a little down time before dismissal, some of the kids took out their writing portfolios and started new projects. I didn't say a thing. Just smiled.