On Saturday the 18th of March 2017 I delivered a TEDx talk! Oh, my goodness! If you are unfamiliar with what TEDx talks are, then just watch this very brief video clip.
Not only did I present, as one of ONLY 4 BAME (Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic) educators out of over 50 speakers/presenters and performers, I did it with some amazing colleagues, some brilliant advocates and friends, (@ThehopefulHT- Hannah Wilson, @Jazampawfarr- Jaz Am-paw Farr, @Nataliehschoot- Natalie Scott and @JenWright- Jennifer Wright.)
There were over 125 applications made to speak at the event, and only 22 speakers were selected from those, after the panel deliberated for over 6 hours after shortlisting.
I am still not over the fact that I, me, yes me, was selected to speak after being prompted/cojuled and ‘pushed’ by some of my educational heroes. Last year, for example, Mary Myatt, Vic Goddard and Dame Alison Peacock spoke at this event!
My talk was about Engaging and Inspiring Teachers.
You can now see the official talk now that TEDx have released their official versions here- www.trythisteaching.com/videos along with some other clips of me presenting at other events if you are interested!
So, what was my talk really about? If, I had more time, what would I have said much? I think I would have said much, much more… and upon deep reflection, watching my presentation over and over, (I have a copy of the live stream version,) I have noticed many things I would done differently.
- Not paced around as much
- Smiled a bit more
- Talked clearer in certain sections
- Not taken as long to ‘warm up’
- Mentioned the lack of diversity in classrooms/leadership positions
- Talked more about me
- Giving some deeper thinking points for the audience to take away
Anyway, I could go on… Overall, I was not too happy with the delivery, but, all I can do is learn from my mistakes.
Below you will see the visual prompts/slides I used to compliment my talk. Beneath the image I have summarised what I mentioned and what additional points I would have made.
Let me know what you think!
My talk was aiming to speak about how we engage and inspire teachers and what makes an engaging and inspiring teacher. My talk was the first adult presentation of the day and was under the theme of Unpacking Inspiration. I followed one of the most effective 13 year olds I have ever seen speak! She spoke about the idea that students wanted their lessons to be fun, creative and how they, as the younger generation would find their own inspiration… interesting.
Many other speakers just exploded straight into their talk. I opened with a simple Good Morning? Not sure…!
I then went on to say, how to be a good teacher, you have to be a good speaker. I speak about how these two jobs are synonmous. I hear many teachers saying, they do not like public speaking, or get nervous about speaking in front of people. I must admit, I find that odd. We are professional speakers, we are story tellers. We all have our own method, but that is what we do? (That is not me by the way in the picture!)
I then discussed that intelligence is a cornerstone of an effective teacher and speaker. Subject knowledge and knowing what we are talking about is fundamental in being effective. Sometimes, not knowing what we are teaching inside out is when our teaching moves away from being engaging and inspirational to chaotic and troublesome. Or dare I say it, boring? *runsaway*
I mentioned how once we have developed our intelligence, we can as teachers always develop in other areas. Therefore, can teach outside of our specialism!
I go on to say that any tasks that requires one to do it more than once requires reflection. As good teachers and speakers we need to reflect on what we do daily, whether we can do it better next time and ask ourselves, how do we know? I wanted to go further with this and talk about how good teachers and speakers, take time to listen, take time to grow and do not just assume, if they are really intelligent, they will be a really good teacher/speaker.
The next trait of a good teacher and speaker I mentioned was confidence. This ties in with the idea that a good teacher is a good story teller, they are effectively a good speaker. I mentioned how we must be confident about what we are saying, even if it is unclear to us, i.e grade boundaries, curriculum changes and so on. Students need our confidence to carry them through. I also mentioned how my mother was an example of an intelligent, reflective and confident person. Watch the clip to see what connection I have with ice cream vans!
Then I hit the audience with my view that you can be intelligent, reflective and confident, but in order to be a great teacher, you need to be engaging! I explore the idea that engagement may not mean students are learning, or ‘seeing engaged’ students, whatever that means, should not automatically trigger one to assume their students are learning. But, it could be a prerequisite. I mentioned how engagement is relevant to the individuals and knowing our students, not just students is crucial here. I wanted to implore teachers not to ditch the idea of being engaging, like many individual are stating they have done.
Do you think, well, that’s not my job?
Is this what you think of, when you imagine engaging teachers? Is this the usual response to an engaging lesson?
If you answered yes to both of the above, it is probably because you have confused the term engagement with entertainment. Debra Kidd has written a brilliant blog about this idea that engagement is not synonymous with entertainment. I talked about the idea that you don’t have to be dizzy, or wizzy, or fancy to be engaging. Don’t confuse it with having to plan fun lessons and make every lesson creative. My chapter in Don’t Change The Light-bulbs mentions the fact that sometimes, we need to remember that what we think is fun is not the same as students! (Sometimes!)
I went on to explore the idea of a gimmick and fad and how as teachers we are too quick to jump on others ideas and belittle and downgrade them. My viewpoint is, unless you know the class, context and students, you shouldn’t pass judgement. If you believe so strongly, that you think the idea, or activity is damaging life chances then do, speak up. But in a constructive manner. I mention that something can work somewhere, but not everything works everywhere!
I went on to mention how my motto is to try an idea, if it doesn’t work, refine the idea, if it then still doesn’t work, ditch the idea. Try, refine, ditch! I was told I had to mention my toolkit; www.trythisteaching.com/toolkit where there are over 300 ideas for teachers to try, refine or ditch (not use!)
I went on to say that teachers shouldn’t kill their creativity and should go with their instincts at times! I wanted to remind teachers to be themselves, back their intelligence and confidence with reflection in order to be completely engaging.
I then spoke about my teacher, colleague and friend, Mr. G. Wickens, or Sir. I spoke about how he did something extremely special to us all, he made every student feel like they were the most important student in the world. He cared, she shared and he was inspirational. I have written a way more detailed blog about Sir, this was after he passed away. Click here to read.
I ended my talk with reminding and informing and pleading all educators to be themselves in their classrooms. To let students know a little about them. I told people not to be their friends, but be friendly. I wanted to say that unless we let students in a little, they will just fill in the gaps with made up thoughts! I stated that teachers should NOT be hidden figures in their classrooms and that they should aim to create lots of ‘the first off.’
Overall, what did I learn from my TEDx Talk?
- Lots of teachers valued the message of being ourselves in our classrooms
- I need to make more effort in following up my presentations with speaking to people and engaging with them past the presentation
- Public speaking is a craft, that requires practice
Thanks for watching, reading and maybe, sharing.
Here are some of the mind blowing messages I have received from former students about my talk!
— Nii Odoi (@Lofrica) April 5, 2017
— Sinéad (@teenagedirrtbag) April 5, 2017
@ASTsupportAAli 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 bravo!! It’s true, I did become a teacher because of you. Excellent speech, very emotive, couldn’t stop watching!
— Miss. S (@nqtdiaries) April 5, 2017