The Horror of Public Speaking: A #LessonLearned by Chrystal H.

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Chrystal H. has loved math for as long as she can remember.  In 6th grade, she decided to be a math teacher. At the time, she wanted to teach 5th grade math, since that is what she knew best. When she got to high school, Algebra I and Algebra II changed her mind.

Amazingly, Chrystal’s lesson learned is not from a favorite math teacher. It is a lesson that came from an English teacher who taught her more than English. How cool is that? You can follow Chrystal at The Spirit Within or on Twitter at @gumballgirl64.

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The Horror of Public Speaking

In 10th grade, the English curriculum was set up so that we took one quarter of poetry, one quarter of essay writing, one quarter of public speaking, and spent one quarter learning how to write a research paper. The poetry unit was fun, the essay writing challenging, and the research paper was a skill I knew I would need the following year for US History. But public speaking? How I dreaded that part of the year!

As a child, I was painfully shy. As an adolescent, the idea of public speaking was terrifying. (I must not have realized at the time that teaching involves public speaking every day!) Mr. Tibbetts taught that part of the 10th grade year and was one of the few male teachers at my all-girls school. I was a little afraid of him to begin with, since he had a reputation as the only teacher who could spot gum in a student’s mouth from 100 paces. Fortunately, I found out that he could also be kind and supportive when a student needed it.

We had to write and deliver informative speeches, persuasive speeches, and personal history speeches. We learned about breathing, eye contact, and speaking slowly.

It was awful.

And it was wonderful.

Although I hated having to get up in front of my classmates, worried that they would judge me harshly, I loved Mr. Tibbetts. He was always encouraging, constructively critical, and extremely patient with this shy math geek.

Senior year, we were given semester-long electives from which to choose, and I chose to take Mr. T’s classes both semesters – even though one of them was Drama, which had the requirement that we memorize and deliver a speech from a play.  I chose Hamlet’s soliloquy, and 30 years later, I still remember the first part of it!

To be, or not to be–that is the question:

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles

And by opposing end them.

Through Mr. T’s guidance, I “took arms” against the pains of public speaking, and by opposing them, I have found myself able to stand in front of a class, in front of the whole school, even in front of my church, and speak.

Not too long ago, I learned my amazing teacher — the man who took the time to help me in a subject that was a weakness for me — had passed away. He was truly one of the best teachers I ever had; he helped me overcome my fear of public speaking, encouraged me to work at things that did not come easily to me, and most importantly, taught me the ability to spot gum in a student’s mouth from 100 paces.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Tibbetts.

What pieces do you remember reciting when you were in school? Could you deliver things with ease or were you a train-wreck?

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11 responses to “The Horror of Public Speaking: A #LessonLearned by Chrystal H.

  1. Pingback: Remembering a lesson learned and the teacher who taught it | The Spirit Within

  2. In 9th grade we had to deliver Portia’s speech on “The Quality of Mercy is not strained…” from “The Merchant of Venice”. Sister Mary Albert made us memorize it and I have never forgotten it. I even used it in a letter a sent to President Bush on the issue of illegal immigration, to try to get him to see the humanitarian aspect of the issue (I forgot a form letter back). I love that speech and always will. It was one of the first times I had to speech from memory in public and it was difficult for me because I, too, was very shy, but it helped me immensely because I think I loved it so much and Sister Mary Albert was a gem.

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  3. Chrystal, thank you for allowing me to carry a little piece of this awesome teacher with me!

    I know I was called upon to recite things before my college public speaking course, but I can’t for the life of me remember anything about those things.

    I recall how much I loathed speaking for my public speaking course, but also how much I loved speaking about orcinus orca in my marine bio class the same term. I guess the subject matter made the difference for me!

    Now I don’t mind speaking in public, although I’d just as soon get it over sooner than later. That’s why you’ll always find me volunteering to go first.

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  4. Pingback: Lessons Learned: Guest Posts for 2012 « Lessons From Teachers and Twits

  5. Great post Chrystal! RIP Mr. T. Those teachers that have such a profound effect on us and change our lives forever are such a gift.
    I had a few of these teachers as well and without them I wouldn’t be where I am today! So grateful. I am so happy Mr. T did this for you.

    Renee, thanks for another great guest!

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    • You are right, Shannon – we wouldn’t be who we are if it weren’t for the people who have touched our lives along the way. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  6. “I must not have realized at the time that teaching involves public speaking every day!”

    That’s hysterical! It sounds like such wonderful, positive experience. Thank you for sharing it.

    I vaguely remember memorizing a poem for some class in high school, but I cannot recall what it was. 😦 I did, however, memorize lots and lots and lots of music for my clarinet performance degree. It’s not exactly public speaking, but it is getting up on stage and baring a bit of your soul to the world. I loved it, and miss it a little bit.

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    • It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there, whether reciting poetry, giving a speech or performing on stage. You really are baring a bit of your soul each time! Thanks for your comment.

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  7. Pingback: March Departmental #MashUp of Awesomeness « Lessons From Teachers and Twits

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