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Look into My Eyes: Project 180, Day 149

Speech practice today. Yesterday, the kids wrote some brief pieces (100-word paragraphs) to deliver so they can practice eye contact. The goal here is to connect visually with the audience, attempting to make eye contact with each member. This is not easy, especially for inexperienced speakers. But it’s an essential element for engaging an audience.  And the only way that we can get better at it is to practice and get feedback. So, we are going to practice. And we are going to give and get feedback.

Each kid will go twice. The process here is to get more practice, but it’s also to have another shot at it after feedback. After each kid speaks, as an audience, we will give both general and specific feedback. For general feedback, we will simply indicate our response to “visual connectedness” with our fingers, a quick visual for the speaker. 3 = felt visually connected. 2 = felt somewhat visually connected. 1 = did not feel visually connected. For specific feedback, we will give some verbal responses regarding our perceived visual connection with the speaker. The goal, then, is for each kid to take into account what he/she learned from the feedback, using that information to improve in the next round. Growth is the goal here. I do not expect the kids to be Ted-Talk caliber speakers after this exercise, but I do expect them to improve, to grow.

What’s more, I expect them to apply their growth in practice this week to their performance opportunities next week. I hope for most that the biggest takeaway–and something over which they have a great deal of control–is the importance of preparedness. They cannot transform themselves into polished speakers in the span of a couple of days. But they can through intentional, diligent practice reach a level of familiarity with the text that will put them into a position to more effectively employ the six elements of effective speaking. I tell them that, at minimum, they must read aloud a text ten times to become familiar. I encouraged them to do that for today’s practice. My hope is that many did not. No, I’m not keen on their failing today to fail; rather, I am keen on their failing today to succeed next week. Today, my kids will be brave. Today my kids will struggle. Today my kids will grow.

Happy Thursday, all.




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