Saturday, 7 May 2016

"It is what it is"

I recently presented at our Board of Governor’s dinner as a year ago, I was fortunate to receive our school fellowship award that made it possible to have an educational adventure in the US. I’m so glad I blogged throughout my entire learning journey because I continue to have a record of the learning that occurred at that point of time. I'm reminded of Dylan Wiliam's short message to us- "Teaching takes place in time, learning takes place over time".
I’m not one who thrives on public speaking. I know that may shock many of you who know me well (yes I love a chat, I won’t deny that). When it comes to adults, I’m more comfortable working collaboratively one-on-one or with a group of 10-20. But speaking in front of about 200 people tends to rattle my nerves. I am reminded of Principal El’s message- “Get out of your comfort zone and into the learning zone”. That's exactly what I did. My goal this year is improve when publicly speaking. So I pushed myself and accepted a few opportunities to present this year.

I planned this presentation months ago and recently edited when educator friends provided clips and then re-edited when time limits changed. I really struggled with the notion that 200 people would be interested in hearing about my learning journey for 15-20 minutes. I knew I wanted to try something different and I thought it would be more interesting if the audience listened to a diverse group of speakers. So I invited those who have inspired me in my career to make a short clip, as I wanted to share my coaching story. I was humbled that the educators I asked would take the time to create a clip for me. To keep the audience engaged, I animated the pictures and added music - theme of Rocky (Philadelphia), Gossip Girl (Manhattan Private Schools) & Superman (power pose). I knew if I kept the audience's attention on the screen, they wouldn’t focus on me. My script could be read if my nerves got the better of me.

All was going well, but then it happened. We could hear the clip but not see anything. It’s ok I thought, I’ll just click and we’ll move on. But then the computer froze! I could not see the screen from the lectern and the spotlight made it difficult to see the audience. I just looked for someone….anyone….please help! Hours passed…. ok-well it felt like hours. I ended up continuing to read but without the pictures to reference, I was uneasy.

I thought on my feet. Ok – I’ll ask the audience if they’d like to learn something shared at Harvard. I think everyone of those 200 people stood up. I don’t know whether they felt sorry for me, or if they felt peer pressure but that moment was the most memorable of the night. They all did the superhero pose with me. Now it may have been more a sympathetic stance, but I took it and felt so supported. A great example of the Wenona community.  

The slides came back and I admit, my confidence took a bit of a hit. But as I reflect now, I see there are lessons to be learnt in every event.  
  • The message is more important than the delivery
  • Always have a plan B
  • Appreciate and acknowledge those who support you
  • Keep everything in perspective

I’m reminded of the Boston saying- “It is what it is”Technology issues -we’ve all been there. The purpose of my presentation was to share my learning and it's application at Wenona. As my friend Matt said to me, 'The message is the most important bit' and I think I accomplished that. I hope my colleagues felt my genuine belief that coaching is a collaborative approach to meet their self-determined goals. As long as my authenticity was evident to all, I achieved my goal.

The learning continues...


  1. I would love to see your presentation after reading your touching post.

  2. I have had a few experiences of technology failing me and often it is during technology presentations. I have learnt to smile and maybe even crack a joke. Not sure 'back up plan' always work. Maybe just modelling what happens during adversities is the main thing.

  3. Congratulations. You survived and thrived through a worst case scenario!

    People do want to hear your message.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.