One of my students walked in the classroom. Both of her arms were outstretched with clenched fists. She shouted “Ms. Williams, I did it! I did it! I did my presentation in front of the class and I didn’t cry this time.” I rushed over smiling from ear to ear and gave her a high-ten. It was one of those moments that I will forever replay in my mind. I recall the chills that ran down my spine. This lovely was so shy that she would not do her presentation in front of her homeroom teacher. She not only did it but the homeroom teacher reported that it was one of the best presentations in the class.
All of the students with an IEP practiced in my classroom. I gave them an acronym to assist with their presentation skills which I named B.E.E.P.S. ( Body Language, Eye Contact, Expression, Posture, Sound). My patient teacher assistant and I are a great team. We are always looking to advance strategies for our students. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been in the education field for over a decade for this reason. Always giving honor to The Most High, I’m grateful for who I’ve become and who has been placed in my path.
My journey to growth has included seminars, reading books, coaching, spending time with God, and even counseling. One particular asset to my growth comes from a non-profit educational program called Toastmasters. I doubt if my lovely would have gain confidence inspired by me if I was the same person that I was three years ago.
What would have happened if I never took the first step out of my comfort zone by attending a Toastmasters meeting? What would have happened if I quit? I would have hindered helping not only myself but also others. This is why I’m challenging all educators (special education teachers, paraprofessionals, school psychologists, guidance counselors, teachers, substitute teachers, and administrators) to attend a Toastmasters class.
I’ll give you four reasons why using the acronym M.I.L.K.
My first teaching mentor was a torMENTOR. I felt as if I would puke when we had to meet. She was rude, condescending, and untrustworthy. This left me apprehensive towards seeking help even after I went to another school. I now realize that she only did what she knew to do. Besides ignorance, another factor in her poor example of mentoring was her motivation could have been financial. Some teachers receive a stipend for mentorship or they can use experience on their resume. Toastmasters has a mentoring program which include materials that not only emphasizes the “how to” but also the why. If you are in an educational leadership position, How do you know that your mentors aren’t torMENTORS? What have you put in place?
If you are an educator that has to attend any IEP meetings, they can be painful. Special education teachers are trained to complete the paperwork but may still lack effective interpersonal communication skills. This interferes with the energy and length of those meetings. My ability to facilitate meetings in or outside the classroom has greatly improved.
One example of integration is my use of the B.E.E.P.S. ( Body Language, Eye Contact, Expression, Posture, Sound) method. My lovely who conquered her first speech can recite the purpose of this acronym and what each letter represents. The confidence that I have gained from communication has seeped into my relationships, place of employment, and even inspired an entrepreneurial spirit.
Many people view teachers as community leaders. In addition to this default title, some teachers are grade level chairs because of their years of experience. Many educators do not take leadership courses. Toastmasters allow you to become a more effective leader in and out the school system.
Toastmasters is a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. There’s no pay involved for participants. It requires your time and your money. Yet, Toastmasters has millions of members across the globe. Some people are even members of multiple clubs. The motivation varies based on the individual. Majority of people are driven to progress around people who cheer them on, hold them accountable, and show them the way. I have a Toastmasters family whom I love. We hold each other accountable in life goals. We support each other at events.
In the education field, teachers have to obtain at least a Bachelor’s Degree and continue to take classes in order to maintain our license. Ironically, leadership and communication isn’t required in many education majors. Personal development also isn’t emphasized in any college major. We cannot neglect these skills. We are more than just teachers. We are leaders, speakers, consultants, and community models.
If you would like more information on Toastmasters, please visit www.toastmasters.org to find your nearest club.
There are people waiting on you to answer your call.
-Progress To Your Fullest Potential-
Phyllis G. Williams
Author, Speaker, Consultant
Please Share, Like, or Comment if you enjoyed this post.