For the last few weeks, my class and I have been working on oral presentations. We have been discussing the importance of breathing, eye contact, body language, and feeling relaxed in front of a crowd. I explained to them that the number one fear in the US is speaking in front of people. We discussed reasons for this fear, and they explained to me that they did not want to be judged or embarrassed in front of their peers. We talked about ways to curtail this anxiety, and eventually their presentations were amazing and they all did a remarkable job.
Last week, we had a dinner dance for all the eight graders who were “graduating.” I made a few speeches, handed out a few awards and sang a song. Well, I tried to sing a song. I had been practicing it at home and it sounded okay. I know that I am not the best singer, but this sounded pretty good. I practiced daily and was ready to go. I was singing Good Riddance by GreenDay. So there I was on stage strumming the first few chords when I forgot the first verse. I strummed a bit longer and then just jumped in. I sounded awful. I was way off key, and I couldn’t get my voice to where I wanted it to be; this caused me to forget the next line, so I just said, “ Sorry guys but I forget the words so let me just strum till I find my place.” I was standing in front of all my students and their parents, my principal and fellow teachers. I jumped back in, but it still sounded horrible. My knee was shaking; I was even messing up the chords. All three of them! I eventually made my way through the song and got a rousing ovation.
When they stopped, this is what I said, “ Well guys, I have been telling you all week that you have to be able to embarrass yourself and take chances right? Well here is proof that it is not that bad. I just stood in front of you all and made a fool of myself, and it doesn’t feel that bad, so the lesson is take risks and don’t worry what anyone says.”
I don’t know about you, but that seemed like a better lesson than if I would have nailed the song.