What a day!
On Friday, February 26, I left my office at Wilmington College to drive to Thomas J. Worthington High School for a practice session for the inaugural TEDxWorthington. A circle of red carpet is probably the most intimidating piece of fabric I’ve even seen. Seeing that circle of carpet is probably when it finally sunk in for me that this was really going to happen. I would stand on that circle of red carpet with the “TEDx” blocks behind me and deliver my best fifteen minutes.
I was one of nine speakers selected to speak on Saturday, February 27, 2016. Our venue was the McConnell Arts Center, a magnificent space for such an event.
I knew two of the other speakers. That is to say, I knew of them, thanks to connecting with them via Twitter as fellow Ohio educators. Other than that, these were strangers to me. But, we shared something important in common: a passion for education. And that passion had led each of us to propose to be part of this event.
The event was scheduled for 1:00 – 5:00 PM, which seems like an awfully long time to sit and listen to people talk at you. But, engaging talks, coupled with a 20-minute “intermission” after each set of 3 speakers, kept things fresh. I took the stage a full 2½ hours after the event started, and the audience was not weary of the format. TEDx Worthington lead organizer Jerry Obney told me on Friday before my practice session, “The audience will all be pulling for you. They want you to do well.” And he was right.
I took some very important lessons and observations away from each of the other eight talks.
Steve Kucinski – Don’t forget to feel. And don’t wait until it’s too late to show that you care.
Tom Burton – “Know thyself.” Don’t be afraid to ask questions, of others and yourself.
Cheyenne Bunckingham – The problem of nutrition in education is a complex one, but that means we should focus on it all the more, rather than merely meeting minimums and leaving that as good enough.
Chris Hasebrook – Education can be different. If we decided school doesn’t have to look like it did in the past, what sort of future could we create?
Anna Farrell – A student is a person, not a transcript. And we’re all better when we choose to collaborate rather than compete.
Eric Gnezda – Like Rita Pierson said, “Every student needs a champion.” Never underestimate the impact you can have on a student’s life, especially outside of the “prescribed curriculum.”
Trent Bowers – The life-lessons of co-curricular activities should never be underestimated. Does every student have the opportunity to participate and learn those lessons?
Cindy Meyers Foley – Boredom does not have to be a bad thing. As a matter of fact, some of the most creative ideas the world has ever known came from people who were trying to find a way to eliminate being bored!
Re-watching the video of my talk was not something I wanted to do, but I thought I probably should. I have some irritating “nervous tendencies” when I speak. I need to work on that. And hopefully I will have plenty of opportunities to do so.
My biggest takeaway from this event is a reminder that everyone has a story that is worth telling. And that means everyone has a story that is worth hearing. I have so many opportunities to hear amazing stories every day, and it’s long past time I started making the time to listen to them.