Public speaking and “putting myself out there” has never been a strength of mine. I do it because I have to – it is part of my job and I am expected to speak in front of large groups of parents throughout the year.
This year, one of my goals and challenges was to get out of my comfort zone and push myself to improve in this area. (Be careful what you ask for!!) As soon as I decided to work on this I was asked to give a presentation to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia principals on Genius Hour. Each October the principal’s meet in Avalon, NJ for three days of professional development and I was going to be one of the break out sessions. I was very excited to share the Genius Hour topic because I know how it has enriched our academic program as well as empowered our students to be creative and deep thinkers. However, the thought of talking in front of a room full of my peers and colleagues was daunting – was I really going to have something worthwhile to say and share? In the end, it was a good experience for me – I had lots of positive feedback and even a few principals who came to St. Pat’s to see Genius Hour in action so they could implement it into their school programs.
While I was preparing for the principal talk, a friend of mine was encouraging me to submit a proposal to the National Catholic Educational Association(NCEA). I jumped in with two feet and my proposal to speak about Genius Hour on a national level was accepted. A definite perk was that the national convention was being help in San Diego, CA,. What a beautiful place!
Right before I left for San Diego, a received a call from NCEA asking me to speak at their STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, Math) Symposium at Neumann University. They asked that I share the STREAM water unit that St. Pat’s did in November.
As I prepared for all three of these talks I had the same thought: Why did I say “yes” to this? And, the answer to that question was always the same: it is because I was excited to share the wonderful things our teachers are doing here at St. Patrick School. I wanted to brag about the enthusiasm, the deep thinking, the collaboration, the planning, and so much more that SPS teachers do in order to improve student learning and engagement. I wanted to compare ourselves to other local and national schools and programs in order to gauge if we are on the right track. What I have found is that St. Pat’s is ahead of the curve – we are setting the bar and challenging ourselves to be better and better. Why? Because we want our students to be the best – we want our students to love learning and to have meaningful learning experiences.
Will I continue to do these talks? Yes, if I am asked. Will I ever be comfortable in public speaking settings? Probably not, but practice does make perfect! Will I continue to share St. Pat’s good news? Absolutely – even if it does mean speaking in front of large groups, because we have so much to contribute to Catholic education on a local and national level!