I talk a lot. If you know me, you know its true. In these past couple years, since I started my Learn with John Eick Podcast, I have been blogging a lot less and just talking into the voice recorder a lot more. I just like the way words roll off the tip of my tongue more so than my fingertips to the keyboard. I like the pregnant pause that just can't be captured by an ellipse, or the slow escalation of volume as a sentence builds toward its crescendo through a microphone. I really love the spoken word as a speaker and a listener. I devour audio books, I enjoy podcasts with every breakfast, I prefer Voxer to text messages and sometimes I sit in church, just to hear the pastor spin a yarn. However, as much as I love to speak, it still makes me nervous every time.
This week I was #EduHonored to keynote the opening of a day of learning at Union School District in San Jose, CA. The district brings in amazing presenters for their PD days, people like: Tim Bedley, Coach Ben Cogswell, Eddie Campos, Traci Bonde, Jeremiah, Ruesch, Efrain Tovar, Princess Choi, and Bob Dillon, just to name a few, and the whole thing is organized by Jon Corippo from CUE and Andrew Schwab (an Associate Superintendent in Union School District who is also the president of the CUE Board). Needless to say, this is a district committed to amazing professional development for its teachers. I have visited three years in a row, and have walked away each time thinking that the teachers in this district are doing it right: one stretch of the rubber band at a time.
What makes me most nervous about speaking is not the speaking itself. I love the showmanship of taking the stage, I love the canned bits that always get a giggle, I am always happy when I am bringing a crowd with me down some spontaneous rabbit hole, like when I mispronounce a word or a cell phone goes off and there is an opportunity for a one line sidebar to remind us all of the reality of the situation. It isn't the speaking that ever makes me nervous - it is the message. It is the exposure of sharing your own thoughts, the vulnerability of exposing your own ideas, that make delivering a keynote so intimidating. Standing in front of 400 amazing educators, not that scary, telling them how they might develop themselves professionally...terrifying.
I have known that I was going to speak for months, and while the awareness has often been in the back of my mind, it is always the week before a speaking gig that it becomes the most distracting. Monday, I knew what I was going to say and my slides were more or less built. Tuesday, I wanted to make sure I got some rehearsal time in. Wednesday, feeling confident, but starting to think, "Maybe that middle section could be changed." Thursday, I listened to a podcast by Bill Selak at 6AM, and it sparked an idea that I had to pursue. Thursday night: complete rewrite (based on the sparked idea). Late Thursday night, building slides, rehearsing in my hotel room. Friday morning: deliver a keynote that was less than 24 hours old - and I was terrified that it wasn't polished enough to go in front of such an #EduAmazing crowd.
I captured a 12 minute segment of the speech and have included it here. As I watch it, as low quality as the video is (sorry I walk off screen a bunch), I am proud to say that these thoughts are mine, the delivery sounds like me, and I am very grateful to everyone who was involved in allowing me this opportunity. Thank you to Union School District for having me out, thanks to my colleagues at CUE for the constant inspiration, thank you to my Board and staff at Westlake who allow me to travel, and thank you to Bill Selak for his podcast about the technologies of the Punk Rock music from his past which inspired me to think about the technology that inspired the art of mine.