Educator for a Day Toolkit
Help the public understand what our schools do by inviting them into the classroom.
It's been many years since most members of the public have been in a classroom. Given that no more than 20 percent of a community's adult population has school-age children, most people don't have an accurate understanding of what our schools are all about today.
There is no better way to illustrate the experience of being a school employee than to let the public share that experience firsthand through the Educator for a Day program. By bringing public figures and members of the community into the schools, and having them witness the real-life, everyday education environment, we can continue to build a great public education for students. Participate in American Education Week by using the materials below to plan an Educator for a Day event at your school on Thursday of American Education Week.
What is Educator for a Day?
What Will It Accomplish?
Organizing the Program
Who Should Be Invited?
Tips for Cooperating Educators
Brief Your Guests
Are There Legal Implications?
Promoting Educator for a Day
Don't Forget the Follow-up
Sample Administration Letter
Sample Recruitment Memo
Sample Response Form
Sample Proclamation Request Letter
Sample Educator for A Day Proclamation
Sample Press Release
Educator for a Day is a program that allows individuals from the community to experience an entire school day, under the watchful eye of a regular school employee. The "guest educator" performs duties such as teaching class, performing lunch and corridor duty, supervising recess, serving meals in the cafeteria, and tending to sick students, among other duties. This online toolkit will give you all the guidance you need to launch an Educator for a Day program in your community during American Education Week.
Educator for a Day will:
- Enhance communication among educators and community leaders.
- Promote general public understanding of the entire educational process, and what is happening in today's schools.
- Demonstrate to public officials, decisionmakers, and other community leaders, the successes and problems schools experience in reaching students of various ability and skill levels.
- Allow persons "outside" the school situation to better understand the realities of a full school day, with constant student interaction. That is why it is important that all Educators for a Day be invited for an entire day's experience.
- Underscore the need for adequate staffing, materials, and facilities for our schools in an era of budget cuts and generally declining resources.
- Help to increase community awareness, through the media, of the needs of today's students and of the challenges school employees face.
Once you decide to conduct an Educator for a Day program, the first step should be to form a committee, with a chairperson, to develop a specific plan for your program. That proposal should then be reviewed by your local leadership.
Next, arrange to meet with your superintendent or other administrative representative to develop a final plan suitable to everyone. (See sample letter at the end of this packet.) Once your committee has that proposal in hand, they can begin to launch the project.
Specific objectives should include the following:
- Developing a time frame for the project. You should allow at least two to three months from initial planning to the actual date of the project. Then, develop a time-frame checklist (see sample at the end of packet) to help keep you on schedule.
- Deciding how many Educators for a Day you need to invite to make the program a success.
- Deciding how many "cooperating educators" you will need to accommodate the guests.
- Setting guidelines for guests and cooperating educators, and communicating them to both.
- Letting all school principals know about the program.
- Establishing the media/public relations side of program, and making sure that duties are specifically assigned.
- Arranging for adequate evaluation/follow-up for the program, including an end of the school day reception, certificates of appreciation, thank you letters, and follow-up press releases.
Deciding who to invite to participate in Educator for a Day is a bit of a challenge, but practically anyone in the community can be a candidate.
Some examples of the people you might wish to invite are school committee members, legislators, local officials, community employees (i.e., police officers and firefighters), business people, senior citizens, celebrities who live in town, and media representatives.
In addition, you may want to consider inviting PTA leaders, and generally any other well-known or visible community people. Some general guidelines include the following:
- Seek recognizable names in the community.
- Seek people who can make an entire day's commitment.
- Seek people who are willing to do the mundane, as well as important tasks in school.
- Seek salaried employees who will not lose money by participating.
- If participants wear uniforms in their profession, they should wear their uniforms in class. This will give greater identification when photographs are taken.
Once you've decided how many people to invite—and who they should be—send a written invitation from your local Association president and perhaps your school administration if it is a joint project. (See sample at end of packet.)
All of those invited, or serving as an education support professional, should be given the choice of teaching a prepared lesson plan or one of their own. Ask them to indicate a preference for subject/grade areas so that when follow-up communication takes place (by phone or letter), they can be matched with the appropriate cooperating educator.
Obviously, you will need many more cooperating school employees than educators for a day to accommodate the full range of requests. When you have your list of acceptances and cooperating school employees finalized, you can then pair them, and send each an Educator for a Day note indicating who their cooperating educator is and when they will be meeting prior to the actual day of the program (or suggesting they make their own arrangements to do so). At the same time, inform the cooperating educators of the pairings.
Then, once your pairings are finalized, fill out a form that lists cooperating educators with Educators for a Day. (Suggested format example appears at the end of this packet.) The form should be kept for your own records, and copies should be sent to cooperating educators, guests, and administration.
The cooperating educators are central to the success of this program since they will have the most contact throughout the day with the guests. As such, they will be the key "ambassadors" of your school and should have a common sense of the purpose of the day and some common objectives in meeting that purpose.
Among the things you should convey to your cooperating teachers are the following:
- Educators for a Day should actually become involved in the instructional process, and should be actively involved to the maximum degree possible. Cooperating educators must be present at all times but should leave the bulk of the day's duties to the guests.
- If cooperating educators have not met with Educators for a Day prior to the start of classes, they should provide them with a detailed schedule of the day by mail, including all classes, supervision/duties, break times, and after school duties, if any.
- Make sure all cooperating educators are aware of publicity details in connection with the day. Reporters may want to talk to cooperating school employees as well as Educators for a Day. There should be specific times during which photographers and reporters are allowed into classrooms so as to minimize disruptions. Make sure all cooperating educators are aware of the times during which media coverage will be permitted.
As previously mentioned, it is advisable to have cooperating educators and Educators for a Day meet prior to the actual day of the program to become familiar with one another, and to enable the cooperating school employee to get a sense of the guest's involvement. Therefore, a briefing session might be appropriate. At that time, the cooperating educators should go over the day's lesson plans or activities.
Assuming the Educator for a Day is able to perform all duties, he or she should be thoroughly briefed concerning how those duties are performed. Cooperating school employees should reassure all Educators for a Day that they will be present at all times to step in and assist them.
For legal purposes, people participating in Educator for a Day should be viewed as paraprofessionals or teacher aides. As long as a certified teacher is in the classroom or with the Educator for a Day during other activities at all times, the outside guest can take part in the instructional process. Guests must be under the strict supervision of the regular classroom teacher.
Should an emergency or disciplinary situation occur during the visitor's stay in the classroom, the cooperating educator and/or school employee should take control.
Obviously, Educator for a Day is a positive public relations program from a number of standpoints, and you should attempt to capitalize on every PR opportunity it presents. This requires a certain amount of advance planning, but it will pay off.
Your first communication should be internal. Once you have set the guidelines for Educator for a Day in your community and finalized the program with school administration, those details should be communicated to all school employees. Inform your internal audiences through a memo or your local newsletter.
Next, your PR Committee should perform the following functions:
- Send out an initial news release, either directly from your Association or in conjunction with the school administration, announcing the scheduling of Educator for a Day and what it hopes to achieve. (See sample below.) This release should be sent out about 10 days prior to the day of the program.
- Try to make sure that one of your Educators for a Day is a reporter, editor, or media representative who can "double" his or her experience by writing about it or reporting it on the air. The entire Educator for a Day concept is a natural media event; whether a reporter participates or simply covers it, there are numerous story angles. Try to get the newspaper to send a photographer as well as a reporter.
- Once all cooperating educators have been paired with their Educators for a Day, develop a directory or fact sheet on participants and send copies to all media. (See sample below.) Be sure this sheet details the specific times during which reporters and photographers will be permitted to enter classrooms and other school facilities. Disruption of the educational process must be held to a minimum.
- Designate a media contact to which any questions can be directed.
- If necessary, provide everyone with a map showing how to get to your school.
- Shortly before the actual day of the event, send or fax a follow-up release to all media and provide the necessary details regarding time and place.
- Develop a "tip sheet" for media, as a separate element or part of one of the above elements, indicating potential news/photo opportunities, as well as re-emphasizing specific items for entering classrooms and other school facilities.
- If your Educators for a Day are on social media, encourage them to share their experiences via Facebook and Twitter and to follow NEA Today on Facebook and Twitter. Provide them with a list of sample tweets to help promote the event.
- Develop a plan to "control" the media in getting their story on the day of the event. Realize that you have the news story, and the media wants it, but some sense of order must be maintained. You will probably want to discuss the details of the media's presence in your school on the day of the event with the school principal, your school superintendent, and, if there is one, your school system's public relations director. In any event, you will want to ensure a smooth flow of events, and control the disruption of the educational process to the maximum extent possible.
- Plan a reception in a central location immediately after school and/or a news conference or a series of interviews with Educators for a Day to allow reporters to speak with participants to gain their impressions of the day's events. Consider inviting students to give the press another angle on the day's events. Ask the PTA/PTO to contribute refreshments to involve them as well.
- Be sure to gather all clippings and photos that appear in newspapers, send a copy to NEA Public Relations, and keep a copy for your Association's records. They can also make a positive display for bulletin boards in your school’s main office and teachers' rooms.
There are a number of important things to do after you hold your Educator for a Day event. If for some reason there is a lack of media coverage during the actual day, you should approach participants, gather a few comments, and put out an appropriate news release/story detailing their reactions.
In addition to certificates of appreciation for guests, write thank you letters to all the people who contributed to the success of Educator for a Day, including your school superintendent, school committee members, media people, cooperating educators, and school employees.
(Insert name and title)
(Insert name of organization)
Dear (Insert name):
As you may know, November 18–22, 2013, is American Education Week, a celebration to honor individuals who are making a difference in ensuring that every child receives a quality education. As part of this year’s American Education Week, (insert name of school) will be joining schools nationwide in conducting an Educator for a Day event on Thursday, November 21, 2013. The event invites community leaders to experience the day as a teacher.
Educator for a Day pairs visiting community members with a "host educator" for a complete day's activities. The press will be invited and will interview guest educators for the day. This program has been executed in many communities as it demonstrates to public officials and other decisionmakers the successes and challenges our school employees face, and it underscores the need for adequate staffing, materials, and facilities for our students.
We will be using guidelines developed by the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the National Education Association to implement the program, and we welcome your suggestions and involvement. I have enclosed a copy of the invitation letter for your information.
(Insert school name) believes this project will bring positive community relations to our school and help build public support for our teachers and students. Please feel free to contact me at (insert contact information) if you have any questions.
___ Review plans with administration
___ Select Association coordinator(s) for program
___ Plan out public relations strategy
___ Recruit cooperating school employees
___ Mail out letters of invitation to potential participants
___ Call invitees to follow up on receipt of letter
___ Send out initial news release
___ Pair Educators for a Day with cooperating school employees
___ Schedule "get acquainted meetings" for the Educators for a Day and cooperating
___ Make sure all internal PR is in order and that all personnel are notified
___ Inform NEA/PR of the event by e-mailing Christiana Campos at firstname.lastname@example.org
___ Make sure school principals are aware of the event and schedule
___ Determine if release time is needed for building contacts
___ Obtain comments from participants for use by the Association or by media (after the
___ Arrange for certificates of appreciation, small gifts, and thank you notes for all
participants and contributors
___ Secure a location for the reception/news conference and arrange for refreshments
___ Arrange internal and external publicity follow-up
To: (Insert name/s)
From: (Insert name/s)
Re: Educator for a Day Program
November 18–22, 2013, is American Education Week. As part of this celebration, we will be joining the National Education Association and people nationwide in hosting an Educator for a Day event in which we invite local community leaders into our classrooms to experience the day as a teacher.
We are looking for volunteer "host educators" for the program, and encourage you to consider becoming a "host educator" for this important event. (Insert name of school) will provide you with information, guidance, and assistance every step of the way. As a "host educator," you will be helping to spread the word about the challenges and hard work school employees face every day in every classroom.
Please fill out this form and return it to (insert contact name) by (insert date).
Yes, I will volunteer to serve as a "Host Educator" for the Educator for a Day event at (insert school) on Thursday, November 21, 2013.
Preferred Grade/Subject or Area (i.e., nurse’s office, cafeteria, etc.): ________________________________________________________________
Contact Information: ________________________________________________
* * *
Teacher for a Day Response Form
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Contact Phone Number:___________________________________________
Best time to reach you: ___________________________________________
Lesson Plan Preferences: Prefer existing plan____ Will develop own plan____
Media Coverage Preferences:
The press may cover my activities_____ Prefer no press coverage:_____
The press may interview me:_____ Prefer no interviews:_____
Please return this form by (insert date) to:
(Insert school name)
(Insert school address)
(Insert city, state and zip code)
(Insert school phone number)
(Insert name and title)
(Insert name of organization)
(Insert city, state and zip code)
Dear (Insert name):
Thank you for accepting our invitation to serve as an Educator for a Day in (insert school name) on Thursday, November 21, 2013.
As a guest educator in our schools, you will be part of a national celebration during American Education Week, November 18–22, 2013. We are delighted that you have expressed your interest and set aside your personal time to experience firsthand a day in the life of a (insert school name) employee.
Your "host educator” is (insert name). We have asked (her/him) to contact you prior to November 21 to meet and/or discuss our lesson plan and other details about the day's program. In addition, the press has been notified about this event and may be stopping by your classroom or interviewing you at a reception following the school day.
(Insert school name) will be hosting a reception immediately following the school day on November 21 from (insert time) to (insert time) at (insert exact location). Please join us for the opportunity to meet the other guest educators and accept our thanks for your commitment to (insert school name) employees. If you have any questions, feel free to call your host educator at (insert phone number).
We look forward to your participation in our Educator for a Day event. We know this will be a rewarding experience for you, your guest educator and the students you will meet on November 21.
(Insert name and address of the governor, mayor, or other official)
Dear (Insert name):
On Thursday, November 21, 2013, (insert organization name) will be joining Americans nationwide in celebrating Educator for a Day during the National Education Association’s 92nd American Education Week, November 18–21. I encourage you to consider issuing a Proclamation to officially declare Educator for a Day in (City/State).
On Educator for a Day at (insert organization name), community leaders will be paired with "host educators" for a complete day's activities. The guest educators will receive a firsthand look at the needs of students and challenges that face school employees. (Insert additional sentences about your organization and event details).
We hope you will join us in our American Education Week celebration by issuing a Proclamation for Educator for a Day in (City/State). If you have any questions, please contact (insert name) at (insert phone number).
To formally proclaim Educator for a Day during American Education Week, work with your local official to issue this sample proclamation.
WHEREAS, public schools are the backbone of our democracy, providing young people with the tools they need to maintain our nation's precious values of freedom, civility and equality; and
WHEREAS, community leaders are an integral part of the education process; and
WHEREAS, community leaders work to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for students of public schools; and
WHEREAS, community leaders work tirelessly to serve our children and communities with care and professionalism.
NOW, THEREFORE, I ____________________________________________, serving as _____________of
_______________________________, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 21, 2013 as Educator for a Day.
I urge that we observe this day by taking time to recognize and acknowledge the
important role of community leaders in making public schools great for every student.
Signed this _______________ day of _________________________, 2013.
For Immediate Release Contact: (Insert contact name) (Insert date) (Insert phone number)Prominent local leaders will be Educators for a Day as part of American Education Week, November 18-22, 2013
(Insert City, State)—Prominent local leaders, including (insert names/titles) will serve as Educators for a Day at (insert school name) on Thursday, November 21, 2013, as part of the National Education Association’s American Education Week celebration taking place November 18–21. Guest educators will spend an entire day at (insert school name) to experience firsthand school activities under the guidance of a cooperating school employee.
"We are proud to participate in National Educator for a Day during American Education Week,” said (insert name/title). “The event presents an excellent opportunity for elected officials to see what today's students and schools are all about. Education has changed greatly since most of us went to school, and it is important for the community to understand those changes in order to plan effectively for meeting the future needs of our students."
(Insert paragraph with additional details and highlights of your activity.)
(Insert organization’s name) activities are in partnership with NEA, the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.
# # #
Prior to the Event
#Education Week is coming! www.nea.org/aew Get ready to celebrate our public schools and honor our educators. #aew2013
- Support your public schools during American
#Education Week. Find ideas for celebrating at nea.org/aew. #aew2013
- Can't wait to visit <insert school name> and put on my teacher hat for American
#Education Week next Thursday #aew2013
- I'm walking a mile in an educator’s shoes today at <insert school name> as part of
#aew2013 <attach photo at the school>
- The students at <insert school name> are thanking their
#teachers during #aew2013 <attach photo with students waving>
- It’s American
#Education Week. Time to thank the educators who work hard every day to ensure students are safe, ready to learn #aew2013
- It’s American
#Education Week and I’m headed back to school to learn firsthand how educators prepare students for future success #aew2013
- Educators do amazing things every day to ensure our students are successful. Take time to thank them this week.