Lucy Knock BA MA PGCE is the Early Careers Manager, Clinical Services for Specsavers. Part of her role involves inspiring the next generation of eyecare professionals, talking to students at schools and colleges, and in this article she shares her tips.
Firstly, if you are talking to young people about careers in eyecare, show, and really demonstrate, how STEM impacts our everyday lives. You could show how an OCT scan picks up subtle changes in layers of the retina allowing optometrists to diagnose life changing conditions years earlier. Try to make anything you show relevant to the students you are talking to.
Next, link your company activities to their curriculum. Always show how you might use the skills or knowledge they gain at school in your field. If you can, use real challenges as examples with students. Actual problems that you come across in your role will provide students with much appreciated authenticity and by showing the students respect in this way, you will often find engagement levels improve. You may even you elicit some creative, unexpected, and useful responses!
Vary your style, methods, even tone of voice so that you keep your audience’s attention. Relying on one type of communication in your workshop or talk will result in reduced engagement. You could use infographics, short films, practical demonstrations, slides, group work, different voices by bringing in colleagues, experts in a particular field etc.
Get the young people moving, encourage hands on interaction, use technology, involve them, try things out, quizzes, games, voting, testing equipment as research shows that young people often learn more if they can get up and move at points in their lessons.
And finally, promote a culture of decision making, problem solving and risk taking – encouraging the message that it is okay to make mistakes as that’s often where the learning is!
Would you like to talk to schoolchildren and students about careers in eyecare? Find out how to become a STEM ambassador here.