Finding the Right Speaker to Connect with your Staff

Rae HughartBlog, Engage Better, Lead Better


  • Choosing a speaker for your staff is a big decision.
  • Tips and strategies to choose the right speaker to kick off back to school, and carry the message throughout the year.

District leaders often bring in an educational speaker to kick off the year or assist when launching new initiatives. Frankly, I love this stuff. One of my favorite speakers I experienced was during my first institute day as a new teacher. Ron Clark stood on stage with such a presence! I have vivid memories of him dancing around the auditorium, celebrating the work of educators and calling us out on the hard truths of our profession.

The best part? Our work with his motivational message didn’t end there. The district I was working in committed to making his message the theme of the year. They made sure to incorporate professional learning follow up on this idea all year long.

Since this time, I heard from incredible educators sharing professional learning with educators. Some of my favorites? Thomas C Murray, LaVonna Roth, Adam Welcome, and Kevin Butler. Not to mention the amazing educational leaders I have not experienced learning from in-person, but continue to learn from each day through my PLN. These connections are invaluable.

So what do you need to consider as you schedule your professional learning partnership this year?

We must use our educational speakers as more than 1 hour message providers. They must provide real value and enact positive change. Click To Tweet

Balance motivation and tactical takeaways.

Everyone loves a motivational message, but you want to ensure your teachers have something they can take away when the message is shared. Sharing a motivational message is 100% appropriate, but expect more before the speech ends!

This could be a tactical tool for the classroom or a challenge to the staff. Regardless of what the takeaway is, be forward enough to ask your speaker what takeaway you can expect teachers to gather from it. Confirm it is the right one for your staff. The educational presenter will appreciate your dedication to ensure your teachers’ time is used purposefully.

Ensure your speaker understands your building, with your teachers, in your community.

Every staff is different and requires a slightly different approach. When bringing in an outsider into your community, they should never treat your staff with a cookie-cutter approach. So, take the time to share.

Share the initiatives you are working on. Your teachers’ stories. Past experiences and current celebrations.

Then, ensure your speakers provide a personalized plan for your staff. This doesn’t mean the message needs to be original from the other work they have done in the past, but it should be specific to your community. Because your #TeachersDeserveIt.

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Commit to follow up.

No one benefits from a one-hit-wonder. We would never instruct students by mentioning an idea once and then leaving it out of future learning opportunities. So, let’s lead our teachers the same way.

We must use our educational speakers as more than 1 hour message providers. They must provide real value and enact positive change.

Therefore, commit to the follow up. Welcome the speaker into your building multiple times throughout the year. Allow them to visit teacher’s classrooms, provide on the spot coaching, and be available virtually for questions that may arise throughout the week.

On the team, we always suggest having a speaker do a deep dive into a topic and allowing for 8-10 days of follow up with the same group of teachers. This is not only valuable as you send a consistent message across the year. It also allows for the educational consultant to help brainstorm when concerns arise and be a partner with the teacher to persevere through the hurdles.

#TeachBetter Challenge

Share out an educator that has delivered a message during an institute day or professional learning opportunity who helped craft your mindset and skills as an educator. Share it out using #TeachBetter on your favorite social media platform and tag them in your celebration. Everyone loves a reminder they are doing powerful work.

About Rae Hughart

Rae Hughart is a Middle-Level Math and Writing Educator in Illinois, the Director of Training and Development for the Teach Better Team, and co-author of the Teach Better book. In 2017, Rae was honored with the Illinois State University Outstanding Young Alumni Award – inducting her into the University Hall of Fame. In 2018, Rae was honored again by the Henry Ford Innovator Award for her work within educators communities to build unity between local businesses and schools. Rae is also a member of the Teach Better Speakers Network.