I hated speech class in college. I'm not jesting. I actually H A T E D it. On the days new speech assignments were given, I felt as if a huge weight descended on my shoulders. When the morning my speech date rolled around, I would quickly head to the bathroom before class, sick with nerves. Only after the person after me had been called (meaning I was through with public corrections and critiques from the teacher and the dastardly deed demanding a grade was done) would that weight somewhat lift.
This week, for the first time ever, I was grateful for that speech class and my teacher. Oh how I disliked him during my college days. It irked me that he was from my home state, and yet so callously picked apart every single word I said and how it was pronounced. I felt humiliated, as if I had temporarily crawled to the button hole of that proverbial pocket of ignorance one high school teacher told us we lived in, saw the world, showed them my crumb and dust-covered face, than slid back down to the bottom of the pocket. It really was that bad.
Yesterday I had to present a practice run of the 2.5 hour lecture I'll be teaching soon before a group of BOE employees. Thankfully, we had some things go wrong so I'm now prepared for those scenarios during the actual class times. But as for my teaching style and presentation, there were very few critiques. THANK YOU Mr. Jones, wherever you are. Because of those horrendous hours I spent in your class for an entire year, I can face my students and look them directly in the face, I can "own it" when I mispronounce a word or something goes wrong, and sometimes I can even laugh at myself. I've finally got the concept that knowing your subject backwards and forwards truly makes all the difference in the world in confidence level, and that practicing in front of the mirror is not reason to dread the day. I'm not sure you'd recognize my delivery style if you saw me. I've come so far since that 18-19 year old girl whose hands couldn't stop shaking and literally cried in relief and frustration as soon as class was over.
There have been very few times in my adult life when I've been afraid to speak in front of a crowd. And a good chunk of that I owe to what I learned in Introduction to Speech.