Speech, Speech!

When I was in the 7th grade I ran for class treasurer. In 8th grade I was class president. In high school I ran for leadership positions in my youth group at the regional and national level. The point is, I got pretty good at making speeches. It's a good skill if you like to listen to the sound of your voice, but when you're teaching kids with limited attention spans, it's not so applicable.

Unfortunately, sometimes when my patience is reaching a breaking point (especially at the end of the day), I stop everything and try to set everyone straight. Whether it's about respect, effort or maturity, sometimes I just need to make myself heard and let the kids know that enough is enough.

Before I even started teaching I read a book called The Reluctant Disciplinarian. Given my laid back style, it seemed like the book was written for me. At the end of the book the author collected wisdom from a bunch of different sources. One piece of advice that has stayed with me essentially said that a teacher has a finite number of words to use in a school year, so they have to use them carefully. When I stop everything and give one of my speeches, I think about this advice, and wonder how many words I'm wasting.

Walking home from the subway today, an epiphany put my speeches into even scarier perspective. Thinking about the speech I had given at the end of the day I was suddenly reminded of another teacher at my school who's prone to diatribes. I thought of an older cluster teacher who comes into my classroom weekly and usually does little more than lecture my students on how ill-behaved they are. There's plenty of things that distinguish me from this woman thankfully, but I want to be careful to avoid the appearance of any similarities.


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