WATCH: Jam Appears on 100 Huntley Street | How Can We Be More Inclusive In Our Churches and Community?
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Maggie John, one of 100 Huntley Street 's incredible hosts. We spoke briefly and I shared with her my thoughts on disability awareness and inclusion in our churches. Little did I know, Maggie wanted our discussion to continue, and on 100 Huntley Street.
Side note: My Mother was ecstatic when she heard I would be making a guest appearance. She LOVES getting her dose of daily spirituality by watching the many stories of testimony and listening to the band's beautiful music. I made it, Mama!
As an able bodied educator and advocate, I felt an immense amount of pride being apart of this discussion. I am grateful for any opportunity that allows me to educate others about inclusion and acceptance.
Watch the segment below and be sure to share with your circles as it's a message we can all benefit from.
Another international educator being featured this week on the blog! I am really proud of how far the #HowDoYouDoIt series has gone and the educators it's introduced me to. Maria, is currently based in Ireland and it's very clear she's an educator who is love with her student's development. Thank goodness for educational superheros like Maria!
Be sure to connect with her after you've read about her journey into education!
Name: María Ortega
Who are you? How long have you been working in the education field? What school district are you in?
I am María, teacher of Spanish language and culture, with over 13 years teaching experience; six of which I worked in secondary schools in Spain and France, and also taught English and French to adults working in multinationals. During the last seven years I created my own teaching business, teaching Spanish language and culture online and offline.
What subject/ grade do you teach?
I teach Spanish language and culture, both online (via Skype) and offline by the means of workshops and retreats. The majority of my students are adults over 25, who want to be able to communicate in Spanish for personal and professional reasons.
What was learning like growing up for you? Easy, challenging?
My years as a student were very challenging. I was a mediocre student according to my teachers but I put in the hard work to be ticking along. However, despite the so-so results and an increasing lower self-esteem after every school-year, I loved learning and felt a profound admiration to the majority of the teachers.
Growing up, I often got into trouble for being a tad chatty in class. It didn’t matter where my teachers moved me, I found someone to talk to! Obviously I was preparing for my future career as a professional speaker and media personality! (how 'bout that past teachers?!)
I've always loved speaking to groups. I'm pretty sure I was mastering my skills in Mama Bear's tummy.
I remember when I was in middle school, whenever we had an assignment and had a choice between a written or oral report, you ALREADY KNOW I was all over option B! So to those who know me personally, it's no surprise that a large part of my career focuses on public speaking. It's no longer an odd gig here and there, but a job where I'm booked months in advanced for.
But here's the thing, it took time before I could confidently declare I was the #SlayerOfTheMic and my goal is that you'll have the same level of confidence after reading this blog.
1. Get comfortable on camera:
Before you get comfortable with an audience, you need to get comfortable with yourself! Talking in the camera to watch your facial expressions, hear your tone (we all think we sound awkward at first!)...are major factors that can keep your audience engaged or lose them completely. How did I get comfortable on camera? I acted like it was my best friend I was confiding in! "Wow! Can you believe that's what they told me?!" Could you imagine how I looked/sounded when you read that? My eyes were wide, my tone was high, and my body language was definitely expressive. I made mini clips every day and watched them back to critique myself (which was again, awkward at first but so needed). Look at it this way: if you can take selfies, do IG stories, and Snap...you're definitely capable of building on those social skills and bringing it to an audience.
2. Know your topic(s):
I can't believe I'm actually saying this but PLEASE know what you're talking about before you except people to pay you to talk about it! This is where 'fake it till you make it' doesn't apply. Did you see that clip of Justin Trudeau where they thought he wouldn’t know a thing about Quantum computing? Could you imagine the backlash he would face if he just decided to freestyle what he thought it was? When you're knowledgeable about your content, not only does it show confidence and professionalism, it demonstrates to your audience that you are worth what you’re asking. Spare your audience and your reputation your alternative facts and tell them what they need to know.
3. Don't dismiss unpaid gigs:
Instant payment isn’t everything! I can say without hesitation that if I didn't do pro bono events, I would not be the speaker/host I am today. Through social media (especially Twitter), I’ve connected with several community groups because I pitched myself as someone who can speak on a variety of topics and captivate their audience. Why was I able to do that? Because I was confident enough in my ability to #SlayTheMic. This is my theory when it comes to making money: I am paid in 3 ways - opportunities, money, and blessings. With 80% of my unpaid gigs, I:
4. Connect with your audience's energy:
I can't stress enough the importance of connecting with your audience. I can bet you remember a time you were at an event and the speaker was pretty much speaking to themselves because they weren't doing anything to engage the audience! I especially love looking out for people in the crowd who I am potentially losing. For example, I'll ask the group a question and will make eye contact with the person who needs some 1 to 1 attention. A simple question like, "anyone else been in this situation before? What about you?” is enough to wake up the stragglers because they know at some point, they may get called on and they don’t want that to happen! I'm all for audience participation as well because it brings up the energy, gives people the opportunity to share their thoughts/feelings, and ultimately allows you to hold their attention.
5. Treat the stage like it's your playground:
Once when I was hosting TEDx Distillery District, I had space to move throughout the audience and a very large stage to work with. I loved that I was able to utilize both because it made my audience feel like I was interacting with them individually. Being able to move freely, I was making eye contact with people, giving high fives, heck I even got someone dancing! Nothing bad can happen when you work the room and the stage simultaneously. This is another simple technique that demonstrates that you're comfortable with yourself and your audience. Have fun, get the audience on your side, and make magic happen on stage!
WARNING: Just make sure you pause with your movements every so often as you don't want to come across antsy.
Want a free 30 minute #SlayTheMic coaching session? Sign up via the contact tab!
Anyone can be a speaker as long as you have a way to communicate. But...you have to know how to deliver your message and use your voice in a way to captivate your audience AND get booked.
Have a tip of your own? Comment below so we can learn together!
After a mini break, I am SO excited to be back featuring another incredible educator. I've been wanting to feature more educators of colour because growing up, I rarely saw any in the classroom and even today as an educator myself, that's still the case. It is obvious that Katrina is always learning AND is having fun too, which is the sign of a true educator. Her insight was refreshing and inspiring - a perfect read to start my week
Be sure to connect and learn with Katrina after you learn more about her.
Name: Katrina Denise Kearney
Who are you? How long have you been working in the education field?
My name is Katrina Denise Kearney. This year marks my sixteenth year as an educator.
What school district are you in?
I currently work as a fifth grade teacher in the Howard County Public School System. I am also a part of a cadre of teachers who support other fifth grade teachers in the area of social studies.
What subject/ grade do you teach?
As a fifth grade teacher, I teach all core subjects which include math, language arts, science and social studies.
Who was your favourite teacher when you were a student? What made them stand out from the rest?
I love answering this question. My favorite teacher was my middle school 8th grade teacher, Ms. Nichols. As a student in an inner city public school, many of my peers had never traveled or imagined mountain climbing. We were aware of problems within our communities or those within the United States, but not around the world. Ms. Nichols often reminded us that the world was expansive and we had the ability to see and know about it al. She was an “out of the box” educator. We learned about segregation in the US and apartheid in South Africa. She helped me to think globally and analyze how I can impact the world even at a young age. I distinctly remember meeting two K2 Mountain Climbers. They visited our class and shared stories about their previous expeditions and the challenges and expected victories of their expedition to Mt Everest. I really do not remember why we met those climbers in relation to content, but they impacted me greatly because they really showed us that if we conquer fear, we could climb any mountain (metaphorically speaking). I know this was not a part of the curriculum, so it shows that she was willing to teach us no matter what it took to connect.
Jam Gamble - Connector of People, Ideas and Energy