During my time as Marketing Coordinator of The Practice Space, I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside a creative, passionate group of people while showcasing, and learning from the many inspiring members of our community. As I move into the next step of my career, I’m filled with gratitude for what I’ve learned in what turned out to be a major stepping stone of personal and professional growth. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from my time at The Practice Space.
Youth Leadership Matters
Working with The Practice Space is no run-of-the-mill gig. Its mission has left me altogether hopeful for the future of the countless bright students that make up our community. If it wasn’t for the youth leaders that make up The Practice Space, I wouldn’t have learned vital perspectives on issues affecting younger generations like gender inequality in the classroom, the isolation of growing up in a pandemic, and what it means to be a student with a disability. I’m grateful to have had the chance to hear their stories and learn about how we can better support them.
Being a good communicator takes practice
Sometimes, and especially those of us who like to think of ourselves as extroverted, we believe we’re good communicators because we’re fearless or seemingly unafraid of public speaking at times. However, being a clear, concise, organized communicator takes practice. There’s always something to learn when it comes to public speaking – whether I was unorganized with my train of thought, leaving a few “um’s” and “uh’s”, or just forgetting to get my point across, there was always a new tip or trick I learned when it came to public speaking at The Practice Space. (Check out our curriculum guide!) A safe space to smooth over speech wrinkles is always needed and much appreciated.
Public Speaking can be silly and fun!
I was surprised at how uncomfortable I felt thinking of silly, fun debate topics like m&m’s vs. skittles or participating in spontaneous team discussions about picture day in school. I realized, for me, that a big aspect of public speaking that was lost as an adult was the ability to have fun and be spontaneous. As a kid, I always had something to say about light-hearted, fun topics. As an adult, I felt I had to take myself seriously. This isn’t always the case – in fact, people can appreciate your ability to be both serious and silly! The Practice Space held a place for me to discuss spontaneous topics with coworkers, tell random, silly stories to our youth participants, or listen to our adult speakers share their experiences with lighthearted topics.
You never know when storytelling can come in handy.
When I first started working at The Practice Space, I didn’t fully grasp the importance or frequent usage of storytelling in our everyday lives. To me, storytelling seemed distant from other, more “useful” forms of public speaking like speech and debate. It wasn’t until I started dropping in on our programs and studying the Storytelling Guide for a social media series that I realized how much storytelling is used to connect and build trust with an audience. Great leaders, CEOs, and speakers use storytelling to build rapport – a useful skill for anyone looking to connect with those around them. Not to mention, storytelling is also used in our everyday lives to make new friends and showcase pockets of ourselves. I’m thankful to have learned a trick or two about storytelling even if I’m just using it to tell a funny story to a friend!
It’s important to give educators the support they need to uplift their students.
I have deep admiration for educators who take the time to address inequities in their classrooms. I had the pleasure to meet and interact with a few educators from the past Youth Voice Advocates cohort for a video series. It was so inspiring to hear from these educators who want to help encourage students to share bits of themselves and feel comfortable expressing their identity. Educators have enough on their plate as is, so it’s important to give them the tools they need to address inequities and help their students succeed.
Unlearning negative thoughts about public speaking is a key to success.
A big reason I joined The Practice Space is due to my wish that I had found it at an earlier age. When I was younger, I usually avoided speaking up in class because I was scared. I didn’t think my ideas were important or I assumed I may have the wrong answer to give. Oftentimes, I did know the right answer but I was simply too afraid to speak. I let those who had the consistent confidence to speak do so. As an adult navigating the workforce, unlearning those negative thought patterns was an important stepping stone in becoming a confident speaker. It wasn’t my fault I had those thought patterns, but I had to break them in order to be successful.
A lot of the lessons I’ve learned at TPS will stay with me regardless of space and time. I’m lucky to have worked with an organization whose mission is poignant and revelatory at all stages of life. I can’t wait to watch The Practice Space continue expanding and serving communities in need. I’m honored to have been part of the process, even if I was just a small piece of the puzzle.