Mike Cochran Public Speaking Reflection Speech 5/2014 I have been in schools constantly since 1986, ’83 if you count the preschool and daycare. In all that time, I’d like to think that I’ve fulfilled the idiom “you learn something new every day,” but I’m not totally convinced. Realistically, I can say I’ve learned every week, every month, and every year – for 30 years. Specific to the past year – there are plenty of things that I can take away – both positive and negative. I bought a house this year. Before that, I lived with one of my brother’s for a while. At one point, shortly after he had bought the house, and ended up purchasing a new car with his wife, I said to him, “You’re never as ready as you’d like to be, you just have to do it.” I’m starting to see the blunt truth of that advice. I knew it was the right time to buy a house – my girlfriend and I had discussed it and mapped things out as thoroughly as possible, and we had scrimped and saved as much as we could. However, the whole process – from the paperwork to the cost – was still entirely overwhelming and much more stressful than I had imagined. Out of that, I can agree with myself when I said that you can’t be fully prepared, and at some point you just have to jump in the water and know you can swim. In school, I’m once again teaching an unfamiliar curriculum. Last year I taught 2 nd grade, the year before 11th, before that 10th, and before that in the city. I’m teaching 11th again, but juxtaposed with 2nd grade last year, it has left some ambiguity in my expectations. I spent are fair portion of last year expecting my 7 year olds to act more mature – to remember their homework, to listen when spoken to, treat each other fairly, to carry the intrinsic motivation to keep school first, and to leave the troubles at the door. Now, with 17 year olds, I wonder why they can’t be more like the 2nd graders – the ones who wrote down their assignments, who asked their parents for help, who talked to people about their problems rather than rant in a group chat, who realized that school was important even if it wasn’t always interesting, and who got excited by the prospect of story time. There are similarities between high school and elementary school – every student is a child, and each one is different; no kid is ready all of the time, and every kid has things to fill the time if they let it; every student has potential, and every student chooses their own level of engagement. “The names and faces change, but the story’s always the same.”
Over the course of this year I have learned, and I have relearned. Sometimes there are things I know, but they need to be clarified or brought back to the forefront of my mind. One of those things is perseverance – it’s not a lottery ticket, a magic bullet, or deus ex machina that will make the change – you have to step up and do it yourself. Problems need to be identified and addressed – failure to do so doesn’t pass the blame, it merely deepens the rut. This year has been a year of dedication – to classes that don’t respond, to multiple jobs, and to the greater responsibilities in life. I’m sure there are harder lives than mine, but it’s never been spoon fed; it’s not a race; it’s a journey, and I’m trying to travel the path.
Published on May 20, 2014