Saturday, November 19, 2011

Public Speaking 101

For the first time in my career, I stood and asked a question in a room of that size.  Due to the layout of the room and my location, I was overlooked by the facilitator for quite some time, which both allowed me to jot a few notes and become more nervous as I looked out over the number of individuals in the room.  Believe it or not, given my long-windedness, public speaking is not something that I'm comfortable with at all.  So, of course I started by thanking Dr. Glass for being visible around the state and for asking the questions to those in the field of education...and then remembered that I forgot to follow protocol and introduce myself.  So from a darkened corner of the room (ok, maybe that's overly dramatic) came my unidentified voice with a compliment, a reference to a previous speaker and a question that probably sounded like a dare.  Although not a direct quote, this would be close:  "So the first goal of the Blueprint is to put a great teacher in every classroom and a great principal in every building.  Why do you believe that we can't do that now?  Is it due to poor preparation, lack of training, lack of capacity, lack of direction, lack of support, incapable individuals, or unmotivated people?"  Yes, I had the list scrawled on a sheet in front of me.  The moderator asked me to repeat the options, referencing the fact that I must have had a list.  Instead, I responded, "What I'm saying is that we have thrown money at teachers thinking that will make a difference.  We've added rules and regulations to hold all accountable.  Yet we are here again.  Why will this be any different?  What quality in our people are we trying to address?"  A little bit of almost conversation allowed me to invite anyone on the stage to Belmond-Klemme (Yes! I at least remembered to say the name of the school!) to view hard working teachers and educators.  Why do we think that we don't have these people around (note that I'm not saying that every teacher in every classroom across the state is great) our students?  Essentially the answer was that we have good people, we need a good structure, and none of us involved in the blueprint would ever say otherwise.  Good, political answer that didn't really answer the question.  Not that I expected differently, but I was hoping.  It did allow me, however, to awkwardly face a fear I have and somewhat address it.  A few individuals found me to follow up with a question of their own or a comment that caused a conversation to ensue.  Most of these were actually based on the topic and caused me to again refine my thoughts...although forgetting to introduce myself did bring a few of my colleagues around primarily to remind me of my memory loss. 

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