Shaddup Already!


Speech Winner

My students were partook in a public speaking competition. This is a pretty big deal, but it's the first year I've participated with my children. Basically it was between my sixth graders (9 made it to the finals) and one other teacher's sixth graders. I would guess she probably had about 9 as well.

The school wide finals were during the school day, so I wasn't able to attend. I had hoped that at least one of my students would place. I knew my kids were good, but the other teacher has been doing these speeches for four years now.

I had a secret hope that one of my students would win the school-wide competition so that I could go cheer them on in the county contest. But I knew I would be happy if they just did well and one of them placed.

The kids were sent back to class during 3rd period. So I asked Ashley how she did when she came back. She said she didn't win, but Alicia came in 3rd. Yay! Alicia was mine too!

Then she said someone named, um, Cheyenne something-or-other came in first.

Oh, it just couldn't be. Could this be the Cheyenne I sent to the finals?!? I asked if she was on our team. The answer was yes! My Cheyenne won! FIRST PLACE!!!!

I was so nervous that whole morning and so proud that entire day. I was honestly proud of all my kids because I know how intimidating public speaking can be. I was ecstatic that two of my kids placed!!!! And one of them came in first!!!!

Let me tell you about Cheyenne, so maybe you can understand. She is very quiet. So quiet, in fact, that you often have to stand right next to her in order to hear a question she might ask.

She is an over-achiever. She is simply not satisfied with not doing her absolute best. Every single thing she had turned in up to the speech had been incredible. But I was worried. I worried how she would do with her speech and what it might do to her confidence if she didn't do well.

She got up on the day of the classroom speeches and I thought she was going to pass out. I taught the kids some breathing techniques and told them to feel free to use them in the classroom. If it came to the finals, I would give them tips to make the breathing exercises less noticeable.

Cheyenne stood up and proceeded to hyperventilate (or so it appeared). I was crushed for her. I really wanted her to do well because I knew she really wanted to do well. I also knew that she wanted to compete. She hadn't even started yet and she was falling apart.

Then she began.

She transformed into an energetic, vibrant, alive young lady who was speaking loudly, clearly and with emotion. She chose a topic that could be somewhat boring (the benefits of sunshine)--she delivered it in a way that was anything but boring.

She was amazing. And I was worried about sending her to the finals. I knew once she got started, she would be great, but I worried about the nerves beforehand.

I talked to her that morning about breathing deeply while she was still seated and then being confident when she got up because her speech was AMAZING.

After I found out the results, I went to the other teacher, who judged the speeches, and she could not say enough about how Cheyenne did with her speech. Then Ms. L said that she was over talking to my kids, assuring them that she wanted them to do well and trying to relax them. She said that Cheyenne was painfully shy. She wouldn't say a word to Ms. L that wasn't absolutely necessary. Then she (Ms. L)said she was blown away by Cheyenne's performance. I let her know that I was just as surprised in some ways, but knew that Cheyenne really wants to do well at everything.

So now we fast-forward to Monday. Cheyenne let me know that she got the information on the county competition. Then, in her very shy, quiet manner she said:

Ms. B, um, the information, you know, from the speech, said that, if, um, you know, teachers, want to, um, come to the, er finals, they um, can. So, um, I was uh, wondering, if, you, um wanttocome.

I was planning on going before she asked, but having her ask made it even more important for me to go. I really felt special that she so clearly wanted me to be there.

I just replied, "Cheyenne, I'll be there. I wouldn't miss it for the world! I'm so proud of you!"

And I am. Given the choice between someone who finds performing easy and someone who is scared to perform, but does well because of some intrinsic drive to put forth 110% at everything, I will always have more respect for the one that puts in the effort. I would much rather see someone doing their best than someone being the best.

Fortunately, for Cheyenne, it was a case of both of those in this speech.

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