Industry Guest Speaker Guide
A great way to enhance classes that incorporate DCA courses is to include guest speakers from the gem and jewelry industry in your community or local geographic area.
Industry Guest Speakers can add a number of important benefits, including:
- Sharing real-life knowledge, skills, experience, and enthusiasm.
- Offering unique personal perspectives on subjects your class is exploring.
- Answering students’ questions that go beyond standard course topics or information.
One of the first things to think about with Industry Guest Speakers is scheduling. You need to decide how many speakers you need, when you want to have them, and what you’d like them to show and tell about.
Many teachers prefer to have one speaker per month, with a couple of exceptions. There’s usually no speaker for the very first month of the school year, when things are just getting started. There is also no speaker during the last two months. These are normally devoted to the DCA course final review and examination, and then to end-of- school activities.
Jewelry professionals – especially those in the retail sector – are typically very busy from Thanksgiving through New Year. So, it’s usually best to skip December as well.
After you’ve created your lesson plan, you can choose appropriate topics for your speakers. These can be drawn from lessons your students will be studying around the time of a speaker’s visit.
For an example of speaker scheduling, click here for the Guest Speakers Guide(pdf).
For more about developing a timeline for DCA course lessons, click here to “Get Started”
Once you’ve laid out your schedule, you’re ready to start lining up speakers. There are several ways to go about this.
DCA can provide a listing of any members it has in your area. Speakers drawn from this source may be familiar with the course materials you’re using in class. To request a list, use “Contact Us” from the menu on the Teacher Support page.
If you know people in the jewelry industry, these are obvious candidates. You can also do an Internet search for local gem and jewelry professionals. Phrases like “gem dealers Macon GA” or “jewelry stores Augusta GA” may help you find the people you want.
How you choose to first reach out to speakers is largely a matter of opportunity and personal preference. For example, you might start by calling a jewelry store or visiting it in person. Another option is making initial contact by email or through the store’s website.
When you contact a speaker and make your request, be sure to cover key information, such as:
- Where you teach and what subject.
- How many students are in the class and what their ages are.
- When you’d like to have the speaker – date and time.
- What subject(s) you’d like her or him to show and tell about.
- How long the presentation should be.
Also ask about any concerns or requirements your speaker may have. And when someone accepts your invitation, send her or him a brief thank you note.
For templates you can use to communicate with speakers, click here for the JCRI Guest Speaker Messages(docx).
“As a local independent jewelry store owner, I was honored to be invited into our local High School to supplement [students’] educational experience.… I was impressed by the students’ questions and excitement for the subject. … I walked away with a desire to be more involved in their journey and with an appreciation of the Diamond Council of America’s contribution to the future hire-ability of our next generation.”
-Dave Meadows, Art Jewelers, Woodstock, GA
As the date for an Industry Guest Speaker’s appearance approaches, there are several things you need to do:
- About two weeks in advance, email the speaker a reminder of the event as well as its date and time. Also provide information about your school’s location, where to park, and how to check in. (You can use Guest Speaker Message 3 as the template for this.)
- Make sure your AV equipment is functioning properly. If the speaker has requested special equipment, determine whether or not you can provide it and let her or him know.
- Tell your students about the speaker – her or his experience and why you have chosen this particular person to speak to them. Build interest, curiosity, and enthusiasm!
- Ask your students to submit questions for the speaker, and select the best ones by a class vote. Try to generate a list of five to seven really great questions.
- Discuss security precautions. Your speaker may be bringing valuable merchandise and equipment. For this reason, it’s best if students don’t tell their schoolmates about the presentation until after it’s over. (You can cite this as an example of jewelry professionalism, too.)
When the Industry Guest Speaker’s presentation is over, there are a few finishing touches you can add to make the encounter a complete success:
- Try to arrange for photos and/or video. Video possibilities include the some or all of presentation itself, plus short segments of students talking about what they liked and learned. (Photos that include the speaker need to be taken while she or he is still onsite, but the video footage of students can be shot afterwards.)
- If circumstances allow, accompany your speaker to the door of the building. Also introduce her or him to your school principal.
- Discuss with your students what they learned from the speaker and what they enjoyed about the presentation. Also talk about ways in which you might improve future events of this kind. As an extra step, ask each student to create and submit a list with three “liked best” items and three “do better next time” items.
- Within the next few days, send the speaker a handwritten thank you note. You can use Guest Speaker Message 4 as a template. If you received really good comments from your students, include quotations or photocopies.
- Also within the next week or so, create a press release about the presentation. In the “Press Releases” section of the Teacher Support page, there is a template you can use for this purpose.
- Place the photos, video, and press release in appropriate media outlets. Good possibilities include your school and/or local newspaper, and also your school’s Facebook page and yearbook.
“Having someone from the industry come to speak to my class fills in the gaps of my knowledge, reinforces the topics I taught, and provides a professional touch to the course. When a speaker brings examples from their store’s inventory the students have a chance to see first-hand what they saw in pictures from the text.”
-Anne Berman, Fine Arts Instructor; Woodstock High School, Cherokee County Schools, GA