Setting expectations with children as a guest speaker in their classroom is important for creating a positive learning environment and ensuring that everyone has a productive and enjoyable experience. Here are some steps you can follow:
A lot of the time children need reminding of how questions and comments are different. For example, there are many times when we will ask if anyone has questions and a child will put up their hand and respond with “My uncle takes the bus sometimes!” or something similar. This answer is off-topic, so you can say “Cool! Remember, a question is when you are wondering something. Is anyone wondering something about anything they see on the bus?” This keeps things positive, and redirects them back to the question while also reminding them of what we are looking for.
When I am beginning my presentation to students, I will always introduce myself and my colleague, and then I will jump right into what they can expect from us during our time together. I will also remind the students of how much time we have together and in what area, for example: “The first half of our time together will be here in the classroom. We’re going to talk about buses, about why we have buses, why buses are good for the planet, do some activities and watch some videos. The SECOND half of our time together, we will be heading out to the actual bus where we will get to sit in the seats, push some buttons, and practice some of our new skills together!”
Cue excited murmurs and gasps from the crowd.
I will then use this as a tool moving forward to set expectations, for example:
“HOWEVER… remember, we only have 1 hour together as a group, and we have to do this classroom part before we can get to the bus. The longer it takes us to get through the classroom part… the less time we have on the bus, right? And what’s cooler, me, or the bus?” Many kids say “THE BUS!!!!!!!!!” at this point, where I whole-heartedly agree with them.
I then say “So, the more I have to stop because people are talking.. or because people are shouting out, or being silly, then the less time we have on the actual bus. And you do want to have time to go on the bus, right?” and they say “YES!” and I say, “So can we agree to always put up our hands when we have an answer or a question? And if we have a story, or a question that doesn’t relate to what I’m saying, you can wait to ask me when we do question time on the bus?” and they will agree.
You can then refer back to this fact if the class starts to get unruly, and say “Remember… we only have an hour, and I would hate for us to not have time for the bus!” and they quickly re-group.