In this week’s episode of All Things Marketing and Education, our host Elana Leoni sits down with AnnMarie Baines, founder and executive director of The Practice Space, which helps youth and adults in the Bay Area speak in a clear, engaging way that represents who they are and what they care about. AnnMarie also recently coauthored a book, “Amplify Student Voices,” which explores how to cultivate student voices and facilitate equitable participation so that young people are prepared to speak up and lead when the moment calls for it. Throughout the conversation, AnnMarie Baines brings us into the world of building classroom confidence using public speaking, oral communication skills, and project-based learning as tools for equity - all while exploring the intersectionality of social justice.
Show notes: leoniconsultinggroup.com/50
Hello and welcome to All Things Marketing and Education. My name is Elana Leoni and I've devoted my career to helping education brands build their brand awareness and engagement. Each week, I sit down with educators, EdTech entrepreneurs and experts in educational marketing and community building. All of them will share their successes and failures using social media, inbound marketing, or content marketing and community building. I'm excited to guide you on your journey to transform your marketing efforts into something that provides consistent value and ultimately improves the lives of your audience.
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of All Things Marketing and Education. This week, I am really excited to be sitting down with AnnMarie Baines. She is the founder and executive director of the Bay Area nonprofit organization, The Practice Space. She's going to tell you a lot more about that and we have a lot of questions around it because her new book kind of surrounds this. But in a nutshell, it elevates underrepresented voices through public speaking education and supports young people and adults in building confidence in their voices. I love it so much. I'm almost done. I'm in chapter seven.
Today, we'll be talking about building confidence in the classroom, specifically using public speaking, oral communication skills, creative projects, and project-based learning as some levers for equity by amplifying diverse student voices. I know that feels like some jargon and lots of word. We will kind of scaffold you in, go deeper, go section by section, but we're talking about really all things equity, public speaking, and really anywhere in between that intersectionality of social justice, all of the things.
If you are an EdTech professional thinking about, "Well, this might not be appropriate for me," it will be. There is so much goodness in this book and what AnnMarie is doing. We will be connecting it to your day-to-day. And as an educator, we will talk a little bit about all of the things, but I would say get the book. It's called Amplify Student Voices. It is made for you. There are so many step-by-step plug and play modules in there. I'm like, "Gosh, if I was an educator, I would be bookmarking the entire chapter here."
Welcome, AnnMarie Baines. I am so excited to have you on the show.
Yay. Thank you for having me. I am so excited to talk about this work.
Yay. I guess I should tell the audience that we know each other from the George Lucas Educational Foundation. I spent eight years at what we call GLEF and we were at the Edutopia arm and you were at the Lucas Education Research arm. You were there for...
Four years, yeah.
Four years. Why don't you tell the audience how did you get there and what were you doing a little bit over there, too? Because I think it helps with your educational journey of how you ended up founding The Practice Space.
Yes. It's interesting, because when I talk through all of my different roles that I've held throughout my career, it sounds really random. But for me, I think the main through line through all of my work has always been about voice, about helping people be themselves, and really understanding how people create an identity for themselves in the world. That's always ever shifting, including my own path. My work really started as a special education teacher in the Boston Public Schools. In that work, I was actually sent there by a professor in my education policy program who was like, "You have no business being an education policy if you haven't been in the classroom, so you need to go into the classroom first."
And that was fantastic advice by the late Tom Hare, a special education research professor. I did the Boston Teacher Residency and had a wonderful group of students who were labeled with disabilities. But at the same time, when I was interacting with them on a daily basis, you almost couldn't really tell that there was any reason they should be in my class. I had that classic classroom in the basement, all the way excluded and separated from everybody else. I had my little group of 10 students.
What was really wonderful was when they were able to express their stories and all the things that were really important to them, that was when they really could shine as opposed to trying to fit into someone else's mold. I was always really fascinated by what do people look like in and out of the classroom. Their voice really is the way that they bridge all of those different contexts and situations because your voice is how you express your identity and who you are.
I jumped from there and did a PhD in learning sciences and focused on identity development for students with disabilities and followed them for two years. They called me the spy in the settings that they really loved, but also in the settings in school where they were really struggling. So, really trying to understand how different learning environments played a role in their identity development as someone who is smart and capable or someone who is labeled as disabled.
It's interesting, because going from all of that and the work in the classroom and education psychology, I started then kind of figuring out, "All right, where am I going to apply this kind of study in work?" And so my first attempt was at San Francisco State, working with first year teachers. I really loved that work but hated the traffic and the driving in the Bay Area.
From there, after a few years, I jumped over to, as you mentioned, Lucas Education Research, just trying to get a sense of where is the next direction of education. And specifically in project-based learning, how are people able to not just separate themselves of who they are in and out of school, but bring themselves into the classroom through projects, through engagement? I'm always excited to think about how to bridge those gaps. After that, I founded The Practice Space that we'll talk about in a little bit. But again, trying to figure out where we can put this knowledge about how people learn and how people learn with each other in classroom environments really to the test so that people can be themselves on purpose.
Elana Leoni:es. It really does [inaudible:
Yes. Because there's always a struggle between your setting and your situations. Your relationships are going to shape you and are going to change you, but at the same time, not losing yourself in that and still being able to figure out how to make your own choices. Choice is a big theme in all of my work. It's just helping people figure out what choices they want to make, whether it's their voice or how they want to express themselves or sometimes in career path or being able to make a choice about what kind of public speaking best suits them.
Yes. I know a lot of your work has never been really about, "We're just focusing on this one type of school or this one type of kid," especially in Lucas Education Research. I know from the work in your practice space is you're working with so many diverse, beautiful voices coming from different backgrounds, different school structures, different home environments. I loved when you all talked about the work you were doing around project-based learning is you were never saying, "Hey, we want to find studies that project-based learning works only for AP kids in this environment". It was all about, "Let's make sure it works for as many kids as possible and in many environments and in many subjects." All of the things around it. And that gives you such a more well-rounded... How can we make this adaptable and inclusive as possible?
Definitely. Well, I think sometimes the default in education can often be the individual and what is wrong with the individual or how can we fix the individual. And it's the same thing in public speaking. People think about, "Well, me as an individual I have imposter syndrome," or "That person just is a good speaker and that person isn't." As opposed to what you're saying and what I say in the book and throughout my work is that it's much more complex than that. There's curriculum that's involved that can make a difference for individuals. There's environments that can make a difference.
My bias is always towards universal design for learning. So how can we create an environment where everyone can really thrive and make their own choices and be able to be themselves? Instead of I'm an imposter, how can I then create a culture and the conditions where no one is an imposter? I think being able to think about that collectively as opposed to trying to fix individuals is always going to be more effective, whether it's public speaking or education.
Yeah. And just applying this a bit to all over stakeholders in education, we certainly see that show up in students in a myriad of ways. We see it as educators. I mean, how many educators have told me that they're not doing something that is worth talking about? I look from an Edutopia lens where I was working and seeing teachers around the nation and saying, "What you are doing is truly amazing and I need you to know that." But it's just this imposter overly humbleness within educators, I see that. And then within EdTech professionals, there's a lot of people that maybe transfer over into EdTech that don't have an education background. Or they may be educators as EdTech professionals now and don't have that tech background and they have these self-limiting beliefs that turn into imposter syndrome.
Yes. Well, we all want to feel like we can belong and that we matter and that our work and our voices are important. And so I think being able to think about, "What are the barriers to that? Why are our voices not welcome or important in certain settings?" And then therefore, what can we do to address that, especially as facilitators, as educators, to create space where people can really be able to be themselves?
Yes. Great transition because I was just about to ask you about The Practice Space. We've mentioned it a little bit. I know you were talking about how you founded it and when was that moment where you decided to go full into the practice space. But why don't you tell our audience a little bit about what it is and what do you hope to achieve with this organization? I know we're going to talk a little bit about the book that talks about your work as well.
Yes. It's a privilege to be able to pursue your passion. The Practice Space has definitely been my passion and it was my passion even when it was sketches and scribbles in notebooks. The Practice Space is a nonprofit in the San Francisco Bay Area. We're based in downtown Richmond and our focus, as you mentioned before, is really about how can people build confidence and community through their voice. And in the process, how can we elevate underrepresented voices through more public speaking education?
In our work, we actually do work with both speakers and facilitators. We help speakers, both young and old, as young as eight and as old as in their 80s, think about how can they speak up and be themselves. We help people with presentation, with debate, with storytelling, because how we define public speaking is any interaction you have with another person. So, get rid of that idea of the public speaker on a stage with thousands of people in the audience and you're at a podium and you're all by yourself. Instead, it's about the act of voicing your identity out loud and being able to express yourself and have that resonate with people and be able to connect with other people, because communication is deeply human and all about connection.
Throughout our work, we have some workshops, we do some online work, but we also partner with local schools, with local organizations to help people with where they're struggling in public speaking or how we can help them have their first positive memory of public speaking. We go into elementary schools, we're in high schools, and we go into those businesses and companies and help people. But then on the facilitator side, that is where the book is really coming in. That's our work with educators to help people actually create more spaces for youth voice because we can't do this work alone.
And if anything, The Practice Space really shouldn't exist if we really have education that's prioritizing oral literacy development as a really important thing. We actually go and we coach teachers. We have a upcoming curriculum coming up that's a full year speech and debate course at the high school level for English learners, and trying to create open educational resources that help facilitators and educators create space where people can voice their opinions because it's not just on the speaker. It's all of us; the listeners, the speakers, the facilitators.
It feels like what you're saying is, at the end of this, I don't want just our typical picture of an Ivy League school or whatnot and the typical speaker on the podium with that polish, that is a certain type of person that's born to be a public speaker. You are debunking that whole thing and saying, "We're all human. We all have this ability." I think somewhere in our lives, whether it be from your socioeconomic background, your race, your gender, whatever it may be, you are taught things and at times you are silenced.
You go into your first chapter of the book talking about how some youth voices are silenced. I wanted to just read one of the things that you say in here because I think it's really powerful. But in the first chapter, you focus on youth stories about what it feels like to be silent and you actually elevate their voices and you say, "Please don't skip these because these are really important." I loved how you integrated the voices. I took a point because you told me... It's like, "AnnMarie said don't skip these." And they were so powerful, including your own stories.
You say that you use stories to root yourselves in the honest reality that we will never know unless we ask young people and offer them space to answer. I think, in education everywhere, we assume so much. We really need to just approach it with a curious lens of, "Why do you think this?" You have these little scaffolding exercises to get people used to public speaking and used to getting them to ideate around what they would talk about. The more the relationship builds with either the facilitator or the educator and the student, I found that's such a beautiful thing.
Yes. So much of public speaking education is really about relationship building, and the relationship has to start with conditions of safety and bravery, but also it develops over time when you can actually hear someone's voice. And what's interesting... As you mentioned, our nonprofit is really tackling the problem of silencing and at all age bands and in the workplace and in schools and outside of schools and trying to tackle that problem from a fun and comfortable place, where it actually can be enjoyable to speak up and tell your story.
That sounds like something really small, but one thing that I see when we work with our eight-year-olds, they are so excited to tell their story. It's like, "Okay, tell me about a time when you were hot," and they start telling all these stories and you can't even stop them, or "Tell me about a time when you went on a road trip," and they just can't stop telling their story.
As people get older, what I notice is that people start summarizing their stories. They are afraid. Actually, I'm even battling that right now in this conversation. It's like, "Well, don't go on for too long, AnnMarie. Don't ramble. Don't go into too much depth about that story because no one wants to hear that." So many of us actually encounter that feeling that, "Well, no one really wants to hear my story." And what I wonder is, where does that come from? How do we start learning this?
In our work, I start seeing it in fourth and fifth grade. Just as early on and in interviews with students, we actually hear students say like, "My story is not important." That's one thing that I hear a lot. Another one that I hear is, "No one will want to be my friend if I tell my story." I think the desire to belong and that worry and fear of judgment is at the core of why people fear public speaking, and it's at the core of, "My story doesn't matter."
And I also see that in education where sometimes we'll be talking with educators about how to weave in storytelling into the classroom. For teachers who are humanities teachers, that is very obvious because they do storytelling all the time. But I wonder sometimes why it's hard to weave in stories all the way through the curriculum, because I think what it tells people is that if stories are how you express who you are, and we don't have time for that or we have to move on or other content's more important, the implicit message we hear is all of this, all of the rest of this education and content is more important than a student's identity and who they are. And that's not a message we want to send.
I think asking ourselves that first question about when is a person's personal experience relevant to the content in education, when is it really important in order to drive understanding and connection and learning? Those are some of those first questions that, I think, the answer is story.
Yeah. It just reminded me because we have the connection of working at the George Lucas Educational Foundation. George would always say, and it was one of my favorite quotes from him, is that "educators are innately the best storytellers." And he would say that with utmost pride. Can you imagine one of the best storytellers in the world, saying that educators are uniquely positioned and are some of the best storytellers he's ever encountered?
That just hits me every year when I look at teacher appreciation and look at all the quotes from him and stuff. It really hit home. When we think about storytelling, not only as educators being able to tell your own story and connect and foster those relationships, but if you are in the world of EdTech, it's really important for you either as a leadership or the brand to tell your own story, to really make sure that whatever you do, you talk about your why, you talk your role as it relates to the why of where you're going.
In other conversations and podcasts, we'll put in a link in the show notes. We have talked with Katie Test and she talks specifically about how you can weave in storytelling, how you can make sure that you're embedding in your mission and your why, and also your personal journey as it relates to the company. I don't want to get too much of on a tangent, but let's get into some practical, for some of those educators that are saying, "Yeah, yeah, this all seems nice. I'm head nodding. I get you, AnnMarie. But how do I actually do it in the classroom?" Are there some tips or tricks just to get started that you don't have to be full debate that you can integrate in some public speaking, little tips, maybe exercises regardless of the classroom and the time that they have? I know that's a hard one, but you have some really great recommendations in the book, too.
Yeah. Our method that, which is articulated in the book, is called Expression-Driven Teaching. And the idea is an expression driven teaching is that, in order to develop diverse voices and with diverse ideas and be able to help students own those ideas, we need to facilitate a lot. We need to facilitate the relationships, the skill building, their growth, and all of the communication fundamentals, and even facilitate a lot of student choice. All of my activities are always about incorporating student choice so that they can pick up a starting place that works for them.
A couple of things that are written in the book, there's some bigger projects of how you can use public speaking as kind of more of the traditional kind of big project. But one thing that I think is really important is doing a lot of public speaking. Doing little five-minute drills whenever you can. I mean, even if it's Wednesday Story Day, and Friday, you can have another theme as well. A couple of these little five-minute activities that you can do is really all about helping students commit to different ideas and be able to commit to a point.
For instance, this or that is a little warmup that I like to do, where you're just throwing out inside or outside. You can do it in pairs or you can do it as a whole group and you just have to pick a side and say one sentence about why. Then it's really about that practice of "I'm going to commit to something and I'm going to explain a little bit of a reason." And you can ramp that up over time and have them try to speak for a minute or speak for two minutes, because being able to have little time goals can be really helpful as we're developing a new skill.
Another one I like for debate warmup is "Yes, and?" Sometimes I'll do a silly prompt and I like doing really light prompts, where it's very clear that there isn't a right answer. Gorillas make great pets and then it's like, "Yes, and they also love bananas. Yes, and..." So then you're practicing building on other people's ideas. That can be a good little discussion tool as well. And you can do the flip side and do, "Well, on the other hand," and then practice disagreeing with other people. Those drills really... I mean, they can take one minute, two minutes. Those are really, really easy ones to do. Then on the storytelling side of things, I like to do, "Tell me about a time when." Just having everybody in the class invite a story from someone else. "Tell me about a time when you saw something scary," and then everybody tells stories to each other and they switch and could be really good for team building. I could go on, but it's also in the book, too.
And that's what I love, though, because sometimes we get in these conversations, we get very theoretical, and we start saying, "Yes, there's importance for fostering a sense of belonging and student confidence and incorporating student feedback," but we don't really get into the nitty gritty on how. And I'd like people to be able to walk away with, "Gosh, there's just a couple of cool ideas I can integrate right away without reading a book, without going anywhere else." Like yes, and, I love that. I've done some of those drills as it relates to design thinking and improv, and I know that those all kind of intersect really beautifully.
Definitely. My other life as a singer and performer and voiceover person. I like being able to pull in those types of activities, and I would encourage any other educators who have other artistic backgrounds or also sports, too. There's a lot of parallels between athletics and yoga and pilates and things like that, and developing your voice because you need to practice little things consistently over time to be able to build the muscle. Breath is really important. Even having a moment where everyone has to take a deep breath in and then out, it's really important for...
We like to tell students like, "Athletes and singers warmups. Speakers have to warm up too, so we're going to do some warmups now." And we do physical stretches because you don't want to be super tense. In order to be yourself, you have to be relaxed. One thing that's nice is when you have a routine of any kind, you can gradually release it to the students. Actually, by the third week of these routines, the students are leading it at that point, at any age in our programs at the practice space.
"All right, who's going to do the stretches today? Who's going to do the tongue twisters?" They love that one because it gets people laughing. And then I'm free for the first 10 minutes of every lesson, which is always really nice.
That is awesome. I see how when you said, "Dare I say," this could be fun. Yes, all of these warmups are fun. And if you just continue that momentum and saying, "We're just having a fun conversation." It might be structured if it's debate, it may have some twists and turns, but there's this element of fun and finding the way that you would respond your unique voice versus anyone else's and encouraging them to do that. I wish I would've been encouraged earlier to have my own voice rather than trying to be like everyone else around.
It was such a breath of fresh air reading it, because I hope and I know that all the communities that you're working with and the students you're working with, they're building their own confidence and they're proud of who uniquely they are every day more and more. I'm wondering, as they start building their student confidence and really figuring out who they are, how does that evolve into them giving feedback into teaching practices? Do you have tips or have you seen moments of, "Here's how educators can..." As you start doing this, this will naturally come, so here's how you can start adapting your own practices to what they're giving you feedback for.
Where the students are giving feedback?
Yeah. More of student ownership. As they start loving this, I'm sure you have some great stories in there where students are owning their own voice and choice and saying, "Gosh, if we could do it this way," or "I really love it when this or whatnot." When educators are facilitating and moving with their students' growth, how can they start accepting and incorporating that into their teaching practices?
Yeah. One big belief of mine, and I talk about this in my TEDx Talk, is that I think it's really powerful when we're learning something new to start with a template. But then we can't just stick with that template, we need to be able to break it. Students are really good at breaking templates, which I love. One thing that I start them off with student leadership is starting to lead those routines. But again, they're leading the routines that I've created at that point, so they're still kind of following a template at that point. And then also starting to coach each other. I give them a few directions about, "Here are the types of things to look for when you're looking for a good speaker." And I ask that question constantly throughout the year, because as they see more good examples of speakers and they start to learn more, their feedback gets better.
But I usually start off with helping them learn how to give good positive feedback. Because the worst thing, and almost everyone has had this comment, is that you say um too much. I think personally, that isn't a horrible thing. I think, if it's distracting, then maybe it is taking away from the message. But it shouldn't be the ultimate and first thing that people hear, "You say um too much," Because then it's telling people to silence something or, "Oh, you speak too fast." And now it's like, "Okay, this is squashing your voice." But instead, I think, beginning speakers and young people need to start actually with, "What are all the good and special things that they see in each other?" Even asking them to point out what part of someone's story was memorable? What's going to stick with you? What are you going to remember?
So rethinking some of those reflection questions can help. To your question about when can teachers start to help students break the template, I think once they start getting peer feedback routines in place and warmups in place, after that, I usually will ask them, "All right. So our goal today is to practice our speeches for our upcoming presentation somewhere. What's the best way to do that?" And sometimes they will just come up with a lesson because they've seen it happen, and so they actually create a lesson.
Actually, this is one of our offerings at The Practice Space. We coach students on how to create lesson plans so that then they can start coaching and we hire high school students to coach in the elementary schools, so they are learning to pass this along. I had a great conversation with a student yesterday who is just graduating from high school and he's been helping at the middle school that I've been working at. And he's like, "Ms. Baines, can I have this program next year? Can I lead this one with an assistant coach as a paid employee of The Practice Space?" I'm like, "Yes, yes, absolutely."
I think the goal is to not just make this something in the classroom, but something really real. This is going to be his job during college and now he's owning it. It takes a little bit of time, but starting with those routines and then helping release that so that then they can start breaking that template.
I love how you mentioned... because I went straight into how do we incorporate student feedback into teacher practice. But you took it in the more logical way and you do it in the book around, "How do we get first students to listen and how do we get educators to listen to students' feedback." Listening is a skill. And then how do we transform that listening into positive feedback that's constructive and doesn't silence them more so. When I read certain things in the book, I was like, "Oh, that's really good. I should incorporate that when I give feedback." it's not as simple as a compliment sandwich. You have really good nuanced stuff in there.
I am wondering. We talked a little bit about specific ways that educators can amplify student voice in the classroom. We talked a little bit about how student ownership of voice and choice can lead them to actually provide feedback and work and co-create with educators in their own practice. But I'm wondering on the other people in the education stakeholders, the parents, the care caregivers, the community, how do you fold them into all of this? What are some best practices that you've seen that have worked that really help move the needle with what you're trying to do?
Yes, it's one thing that I just love is to create community around voice and make it so that having a voice is something exciting. It's special. I mean, everybody wants to be seen, but I think not all of us want to risk being seen, making a mistake in front of an entire group, and really high stake settings when you've never spoken before. All of a sudden you have to be seen in a really high profile way. I think what's really exciting and what helps our community events work really well is all of the preparation that students are doing over time leading up to it. They're still a little nervous, but they're excited to speak for people. I think public speaking requires a public, so you need to have those different public opportunities to practice your voice.
But I like, and this is a special education teacher in me, scaffolding as much as possible. I might start off by inviting a parent or two into the classroom and that's it. Or then like, "All right, we're going to weave a parent meeting and you're going to share out and all." It's a little bit more high stakes there. And then, "All right, you're going to present to someone else's parent." Coming from my own experience and the students' experience as well, presenting to your own parents can be some of the scariest audiences. My mom didn't see me do speech and debate until very, very late in my high school career and even then only once. I think starting to ramp up to that as one of the more high stakes settings can work well too.
By the time we get to our big community events, students are speaking for at least a hundred people or more. I like being able to even have some choice and differentiation in those events. For administrators out there, I don't think that students always have to just speak to the entire group. So it's not just a panel, it's not just a keynote speech, but how can you make an open house out of it, where you can have little groups in individual classrooms with maybe five people and a student is speaking to those five people? because then it's giving students different entry points to be able to voice their opinions.
That was something I always loved. As a side note, it's funny when you asked about my path. I just talked about the professional path, but really what started all of this was being on the speech and debate team in high school. I was really scared, because so many of my students now, I pictured me having to debate in the movies on a stage in front of everybody and then having to lose in the middle of everyone, like a spelling bee or something like that. Debate tournaments, there's only an audience of your two opponents and a judge, so it's like three other people. I think that was a really important thing in my mind to be able to start speaking for parents, start speaking for bigger and bigger audiences gradually over time.
Elana Leoni:say that to her." [inaudible:
Yeah. As I mentioned, I did speech and debate in high school. I was very reluctant. My friend Audrey made me do it and I'm so grateful to her for that, but it was really being part of a team that was really important and also going to some really great debate camps and getting instruction over time. I spent two years losing every round in debate. I was much better at speech. That part came naturally because it was acting and all of that, but debate was this little challenge for me like, "Oh, I can't speak spontaneously." No, you can." There's a way out of that. I shouldn't just say I can't, so I worked really, really hard.
For two years, I was really on this road to learning how to do debate. Then there was this turning point in my sophomore year, where all of a sudden everything came together. It just clicked. I was just practicing so much at this point. I say all of this to say just how long and hard I had been working up until this point. I was getting ready to try and qualify for the Tournament of Champions. And to do that, you need to do really well at two prestigious tournaments, like national tournaments. I had already gotten one of those previously and this was the last chance, the last opportunity to try and qualify.
I had made it to the octafinal round and I had a panel of three judges and I thought I did... I was so ready and I was so prepared and I finished and it was just one of those moments where I was like, "Yes. Yeah, I got it. I did it." The first judge who was a woman voted for me. The next judge was a very experienced debater and listed off all these reasons why the other opponent won, so it's two-two at this point. Now, the last judge had to really reveal his opinion and he just said, "I wrote this in the ballot, but you're just too aggressive for a girl.", too, and he said [inaudible:
I hear students go through the same thing. I've heard students get feedback about, "Well, you should really get your hair straightened because it's more professional. The way you have your hair is not professional," and that's for a number of Black students. I also have heard girls get comments about what they're wearing and their dress. To be fair, in tournaments we are always doing trainings about implicit bias and equity and how you need to set that aside and just listen to what students are saying. But it's amazing just how many people only comment on how people look and how they're supposed to sound. "You should smile more" is one that is constantly a piece of feedback that students get and, "You shouldn't speak so fast."
I think some of it... When I meet judges, not all of them have this evil intent. I meet them and it's almost like that's all they know how to say. That's the only key piece of feedback they know is to be able to fall into these patterns of, "You should look like everyone else." And to your point about silencing and equity, I think public speaking is a really good indicator about whether you really have equity in classrooms or in the world, because are you actually able to speak at all or are you silenced? Are you invited to speak? But also, are you listened to? Are you heard or are people only judging you from the outside?
Also, is your message able to connect with people or are you saying something totally new that no one understands? I think that also gets to diverse experiences as well. I think using it as a little test of how equitable is your space is... Who's speaking? Who gets to speak up and how are they received?
Yes, and who is not speaking. In your book, you talk about all the reasons why people may not be speaking and how you can invite the conversation to learn more about why is that. And just don't take it for granted that... Everyone, like you said, really around fourth or fifth grade, I didn't realize it was around that time, is where they start having all those self-limiting beliefs imposed upon them based on who they are, what they look like, how they act, what their disability may or may not be, all of the things around it. I do recommend anyone who... Even if you don't think that public speaking is something you want to incorporate into your classroom, there's so much lessons to be gained or around student confidence, voice and choice, and just the little bit of exercises that you put in around it. It is so beautiful.
I know we can talk about this book for quite a bit of time, but I'd like us to switch gears on one of the things we always talk about in this podcast that's around technology. Although your book isn't really about technology at all, I do know you know the space. You've been in education for quite a bit. You've been in the classroom. I'm wondering around technology as it relates to supporting student voice and participation. There's so much out there. There's AI now. There's all the things surrounding what we could be doing with technology. What would you like to see the technology play a role in to help elevate student voice and confidence in all the things we were talking about?
Yes, I have a couple of thoughts. I think, for one thing, if you take the phrase "public speaking" and just replace it with the word communication, I think there is a more direct connection in folks' brains about communication and technology, because technology is often used to help people connect with one another and communicate with one another. I often see a relationship between using technology to help students prepare their ideas and then having them express those ideas out loud. Because when we are just writing things, I think it can be a struggle to make that jump to actually have to express yourself out loud. Also in this era of AI, I think being able to express your ideas out loud and having more oral assessments in the classroom is really the way we can encourage and assess original thought.
It was interesting. And just as a side note, I was coaching a group of young debaters, and all of a sudden they were reading out a speech and it didn't sound like them at all. And they had just put it into ChatGPT and they were reading it out loud and it put everything together, but the debate quickly fell apart after that because you're only allowed to prepare your first speech. The rest of it is spontaneous and is just based on what your arguments are and how you defend your thinking. I wouldn't want a student to feel prepared and then not actually be prepared at all and have their ideas fall apart. Because ultimately in the real world, they're going to have to defend their thinking. I think using technology in preparation for speaking can be helpful, but not in replacement of speaking.
That's one thing. And then I think the other is... I've said this throughout this podcast, but I'm always a big believer in scaffolding productive struggle. So not using technology to avoid struggle, I think is, very important, but instead using it to scaffold hard things. For instance, we'll use in our curriculum podcasting as the first unit for students, especially English learners. We have a course that we're piloting now for English learners. Being able to talk about your own personal stories in your own home language and have that be recorded and listen to asynchronously where people can actually just jump on and listen to all these different stories.It means [inaudible:
Yeah, those are great points. I recently had a conversation with my friend, Tony, over at Reach Capital and we'll put those in the show notes as well, a link to that podcast. But he talked about the role of technology, especially Chap GPT could be... Also, you said it could be great for preparation. He used it as a way to reflect as well, so maybe imagine your students putting in all of their debate if they were written, some parts of their speeches. They'll start to understand patterns and say, "Gosh, I do do this. Is this my own voice or is this a pattern I want to break?" Being able to just reflect upon it and understand your own unique voice was a beautiful way to use machine learning and things because... You're right. It spits out generic things and sometimes it spit out stuff so generic you're trying to fix it to put your voice in and you're like, "Oh, this will take me longer to put my voice in than just do it myself."
Exactly. The part that scares me and worries me is just when... I mean, so much of us are really scared and nervous about putting ourselves out there and speaking up. Then when we use something like ChatGPT, we're giving our voice away. I think being able to use it to help instead of replacing the act of speaking up is really important, but I think that also takes education as well. So not letting it take away your voice, but instead help you on the front end or the back end and be able to have enough confidence.
But I think I see people... And this is the part that worries me, I see people getting really excited because ChatGPT and AI... It doesn't stumble. It doesn't have those doubts. It doesn't hesitate. It doesn't have ums and so I think people get excited because it sounds really good when they can put things together. It's like all the adult students who come to me and say they want to sound professional or they want to get rid of their accent and things like that. I think I try to reframe that because we don't want to get rid of ourselves. We want to be able to scaffold the process of feeling more confident, being yourself.
It was reminding me and take me back of when I first discovered... And this is old school, but you'll be with me here. It's like I first discovered the encyclopedia and I would have to do a report on a giraffe. I'd go in and I'd look in the encyclopedia and I'm like, "This is beautiful. It's written perfectly. Why can't I just use this?" What you talked about, though, is the role of technology being able to help you along with your struggle. I thought that was beautiful, and especially for those in EdTech wondering about, "How do I design a product for a user experience that's going to make the learning experience the most robust for students to make the learning stick?" You don't just want to give it to them, right? You want the students to be able to struggle but not struggle so much that they give up too. But that's the first time I've actually heard someone ever say that in that way, so I wanted to point that out.
We actually have debaters who are debating the responses on a topic put out by ChatGPT. You can also argue against the tool, so debate the robot kind of exercise can work really well.
I know we are running it time, AnnMarie, but one question we ask all of our audience at the end, especially our audience that are deeply ingrained in education and yourself so passionate about what you do. I know there are days where you probably feel just a little bit drained. You do great things, but you are in the work. You are in challenging situations every day. When those days you just feel drained and you feel like, "Don't talk to me," how do you refuel yourself? How do you get back the next day full charge and get excited and get ready to go? Everyone's got either activities they do, things they listen to, watch. What are the things in your life that get you re-energized?
My husband and I have our little routine as we... We really miss this during the pandemic. We're glad that it's back. Every month, we do a race just of any kind. He's kind of a crazy ultra runner. I don't run quite that long of a distance, but every month we have a race. Being able to be outside and be in community with other runners is really exciting. It also keeps me honest because it takes time to get ready for those. I would say running is one for me. And I've started doing some strength training, did my first pull up, yay, last December, and trying to keep that up. Feeling good in my body is very important. Being able to not just sit down but get moving. So, that's one that's really important to me.
I sing in choruses and in the car and that is a good release for me, too. And then I watch way too much television and I do a lot of baking when I can. I think sometimes for myself, when I'm drained, I usually notice a pattern that I haven't had time to do all of those things. So, being able to carve out space... For me it's 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM is a pretty important hour for me when I can fit in some of those things, and just sometimes also not having a plan is also important. I also decompress by having a few times when I don't have a plan.
Nice. Now it makes sense because there was a quote in the book from The Great British Bake Off. She's either a baker... I know a lot of people just watch the show because it's fun, too, but now it makes sense.
I really like competitive reality shows, mostly food-oriented, but also still a Project Runway fan.
Yes. Yes. Well, AnnMarie, thank you for coming on the show. How can people listening get ahold of you, contact you, whether it be at The Practice Space or learn about your book?
Our book is available on Amazon and at our publisher, ASCD. It's called Amplify Student Voices, as we've mentioned. Definitely grab a copy. It came out in January, so it's still fresh off the press. Our website is www.practice-space.org. Our website has some free resources on it, also has a book page, but also has a partnerships page. If you want us to either do private lessons with you or maybe join your company for a workshop, we do online workshops, but also in-person ones as well. That's a good way to get ahold of us. There's a contact page there as well. Also, we welcome any inquiries at all, even if it's just a conversation that we want to have. Definitely want to welcome that as well.
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining us, AnnMarie.
Can I also say, actually, social? I almost forgot. Social media is also a great way to reach us. We're at @tpsnonprof-... No, sorry, let me start that again, @tpsnonprofit.
So T as in Tom, P as in Peter, S as in school, tpsnonprofit?
Yes, tpsnonprofit, The Practice Space.
The Practice Space. Awesome. Don't ever forget the social, it's important for me, as you know. Thank you, everybody, for joining us. Like I do every time when I close these conversations, I'd love for you to pause and think about some of the really critical things that AnnMarie talked about. And even if you want to just reflect personally and say, "What's my voice? How am I reflecting on my own personal voice and journey and identity as it relates to education? Am I allowing myself the ability and the space and the safety to grow? Am I in a place that is encouraging my voice and my unique place?" There's all these beautiful things that can come out of this.
If you're an educator, there are so many practical things you could walk away with. And then from an EdTech perspective, I'd love for you to think about especially the question on tech and how do we use tech strategically to really guide and elevate and give and support student voice and confidence for all students, not just a certain type of student.th episode, so [inaudible:
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