Back at it today. We have a full complement of speeches scheduled each period. I can’t wait. I’ve said it a million times, and I will likely say it a million more, I love witnessing kids in their moments. For me, beyond the massive amounts of monetary compensation I receive for this job, there is nothing more rewarding. I purposefully end the year with speeches and presentations, for it provides the perfect opportunity for the kids to make final and lasting impressions. It becomes my last and, in many respects,  most memorable experience with my kids. Love it.

But for a few, it does not end with “happily ever after.” For a few, it abruptly stops with “the end.” No triumphant moment. No beautiful crescendo. No exclamation-pointed finale. Nope. A few never get on the stage. Collin (name changed) is one of those few this year. He will not deliver a speech this spring. He has chosen not to. Oh, he’s not being defiant or even resistant. He’s being real. For him, the glossophobia is too real. I know this. I have seen him struggle–truly struggle–with the practice opportunities, so when he came to me, barely able to speak or breathe with tears threatening, and told me he couldn’t do it, I was not surprised.  And so, I just simply looked him in the eyes and said, “Okay, Collin. Okay.” I patted him on the back, and he returned to his seat.

I had a decision to make. I, too, am making final, lasting impressions. Some may suggest that I have not helped this young man by letting him off the hook. There may be some truth there. But I am not convinced that making a kid do something that he is truly afraid of is going to really benefit him either. He wrote his speech. He participated in the practice opportunities. He made progress. I am not going to undermine that by making a power play at this point. His time will come when he’s ready. He’s not ready. For him, right now, it’s too much. I believe that. I honor that.

Fortunately, most of my kids are ready. And I know this because they have made a choice. I have told them since the beginning that I am not going to make anyone give a speech. It is their choice. It is an opportunity to grow. Either they will take the opportunity or they won’t. Commitment, not compliance is the path here. And I am beyond proud that most of my kids have committed. There is no grade to force compliance. There is only choice to prove commitment. I am proud that I have been able to get kids to commit to their growth in an area for which most find real fear. Proud of that.

Happy Friday, all.