Monday, October 24, 2016

What Went Wrong With My Volunteer Presentation

"Go out and do something for somebody.  Go out and give something to somebody.
It will take you away from yourself and make you happy."
-- Joseph Jefferson

Remember how you over-prepare for the first day of a new class?  Well, that was me last week on my first day as a volunteer at a local K-8 school.  One of the volunteer positions was to test 4th graders on reading skills but I thought it would be more fun to help a teacher in her combination career exploration and life skills class and opted to do that instead.

So I met with that teacher a few weeks ago and scheduled this past Thursday for me to go in and talk to her 7th-8th class about a career teaching in a foreign country.  I spent about a day and half preparing my presentation.  Unlike when I was a classroom teacher and had a plan book with only a 3" x 3" box to write up each lesson plan, now I could type whatever I wanted without being constrained by space limitations.  And type I did: The notes for my presentation took up 5 pages.  That's where I went wrong!

REad this blog post to find out the 2 mistakes the writer makes when giving a volunteer presentation. Grab a freebie, too. | The ESL Connection
Here I am teaching in China; source: The ESL Nexus
Everything was going reasonably well but before I knew it, the teacher was indicating that just 5 minutes were left…and I was only about halfway through my notes!  I had crammed in 4 different activities and tasks to cover such a broad topic and had carefully allocated time to each part of the lesson.  However, transitioning into the class took longer than expected and students needed more time to take notes than I'd figured.  So I had to rush through the remainder of my presentation.  I probably should have omitted the turn-and-talk activity because that would've allowed more time for the exit ticket task I’d planned.  The teacher was kind enough to photocopy and cut the exit tickets up for me in advance so I wanted to make sure that got done.

You can grab a version of the exit tickets here; I modified them so they can be used when giving a presentation about any kind of job.  Click on Make a copy when prompted by the message on your screen and then you can access the file.

Grab this freebie and read about lessons learned when a volunteer presentation doesn't go exactly as planned. | The ESL Connection
Download your own copy HERE; source: The ESL Nexus
It was disappointing not to be able to present the material the way I’d intended but it was a good learning experience for me.  (I’m not so sure it was for the students!)  Clearly, I didn’t pace things well.  Too much preparation is not a bad thing but I so wanted the presentation to go well that I overplanned to the extreme.  The good thing is that this class is a half-year elective and come January, there will be a new group of students.  My presentation will be much better next time!

REad this blog post to find out the 2 mistakes the writer makes when giving a volunteer presentation.  You can grab a freebie, too. | The ESL Connection
Here I am practicing taiji with a friend in China; source: The ESL Nexus
This week and the week after, I’ll be talking to the same group of students about being a Peace Corps Volunteer.  Now that I know how much time I really have available and I have a good idea of who the students are, I’ll be able to plan that presentation much more effectively.

The classroom teacher has already asked if I’d be interested in doing some classes about cooking Chinese food—of course I said yes!--and I will also be helping out in the school garden.  I’m really looking forward to this opportunity and periodically I’ll blog about my experiences as a school volunteer.  If you volunteer at a school or if you have any advice for volunteers, I’d love to read them in the Comments section below.