How far out can I push my students?

Out into the world that is.  This is a class in public speaking and so I’m taking the “Public” part seriously.  One of the things I tried to do this semester is to get my students to engage in a wider public beyond the classroom.  Two parts to this:  get them into a different physical space; and/or get them into a different and bigger digital space.

The assignment that gave them the opportunity for a different physical space was the Trump Tower, “Learning as Protest” event, aka the Only-in-NY assignment. The assignment that required them to be in a different digital space was the “Equity Unbound/Twitter” discussion.  They also had the option of jumping into another twitter discussion or one on the NYT online.  

You’d think that our students are super-digital-literate and have already been out there in those spaces but it’s not the case.  There are definitely a few who have their own youtube channel or display their art in online communities.  But, from what I can tell (and students who are reading this please correct me if I’m wrong), most of them aren’t doing that much communication publicly—beyond their circle of friends through your basic social media sites.  

Having said that, the twitter experiment was a little bit of a letdown.  The goal was to get them in discussion with others and so we hooked up with the Equity Unbound blog (#unboundeq).  But that discussion didn’t seem to happen.  I will claim a small victory, however, in getting them into the twitter realm.

Moving into the Trump Tower space, however was more of a success for those who engaged (eight students).  First, they managed to get to this really weird, ornate and politically charged lobby of Trump Tower.  They met the guy in charge, Jeff Bergman, and his regulars and chatted with them a little.  Then they got up the gumption to read out loud while being videotaped for Jeff’s public facebook page.  Really, I felt like that was success enough.  

But then people really liked the readings through facebook and Jeff kept them prominently displayed.  And one of the readers caught the attention of the National Center for Transgender Equality and asked his permission to put his reading on their website.  He said yes.

So this is something I plan to work more on in coming semesters.  The world is a better place when my students are participating in it.

28 thoughts on “How far out can I push my students?

  1. speaking for me personally, twitter just isn’t my thing. i engaged as much as i could. I believe that even though we are all in social media, we all show a public front, but as in real life hide the layers that make us. That might be one of the reasons why we feel so naked when we speak in front of people. I kinda regret not going to Trump Towers, maybe just for the experience.

    1. i can relate beacuse i use social media but twitter just isn’t one of them , i just believe some students like myself are scared to step out of the comfort zone and try new things , now thinking about it i wish i could have attended the trump tower and experienced it

    2. Honestly when you said we would have a discussion on Twitter I was like okay wait I don’t even use Twitter?! But it was honestly interesting. It wasn’t difficult and you got to read other opinions about ungrading.

  2. The reason I felt the twitter conversation somewhat flopped is because, at least for me, it felt forced. In class, we’re all talking casually. When we switched to online, it no longer feels like a discussion and I’m just posting to get credit. There’s so much downtime waiting for people to post and no one seems super involved.

  3. All semester I had wanted to participate at TT. I really regret that I couldn’t get it to work with my schedule. I think it would have been an invaluable experience. I think you should put more emphasis on encouraging students to do a sixth assignment in public outside the classroom.
    Regarding Twitter… it felt really strange to have to sign up for a social media platform to post a critique of social media.

  4. I wish I would have done the TT speech but I felt that I was not good enough for it. I don’t read as fast as others do nor do my accent sound pleasant I think. I guess I need to get out of my bubble and be more open and confident to new ideas. Being an introvert can sometimes bring out a lot of insecurities within. In spite, all of that I totally see the bigger picture, by encouraging us to speak in such famous public places can have a huge impact on anybody such as being fearless. I won’t hesitate in the future to try such new experiences that can help me conquer my fears.

  5. There is a whole world out there. Not only in this physical realm but the technological one as well!. Today many of us are on social media today but for reasons that do not benefit us to the fullest potential. There are hundreds of millions of people “hooked up” to the digital world today and all it takes is a single post on any social media platform to change your life!! It also makes it a lot easier to do our assignments because not only do we have all of this technology around us but its also at the palm of our hands.

  6. I agree with some of the other students, i personally do not have twitter. Even though i did make one for the discussion i didn’t feel as comfortable doing it. I think it was a good challenge and a good way to push us to speak, either online or in class, but some students including me didn’t feel comfortable with the twitter discussion. You sure do know how to push us out of our comfort zone.

    1. it’s good to push someone and challenge them to do things and are not used to do especially for those who are so shy because coming out from the comfort zone to do difficult things is a great way to learn so many new things

  7. I admire the way that you approach teaching your students. I found it difficult to do the twitter assignment. I see your vision in trying to push your students to be a part of something greater, for us to be opinionated. We use social media everyday but for all the wrong reasons. I did not have a twitter account and found it difficult to go on twitter and state my opinion. It’s not something I do often. If I do it’s with people who are close to me but never on a large social media platform such as twitter. I regret not doing this assignment I feel that it could have helped me be more assertive when using my voice on social media.

  8. Thank you for putting it out there. The challenge is definitely somewhat to think about. But by doing the twitter assignment I had to do my investigation and I see that is not for me. I applaud everyone who is or going to do it.

  9. I believe pushing people out of their comfort zone is good because it helps them get off what’s really bothering them in their chest. When I was in your class I found motivation towards it and after listening to other people’s speech. As a Twitch streamer, I usually talk with my viewers or audience from around the world and I get to know them and we always talk about anything. Whether discussing problems around the world, music, changes in the gaming industry, the country their from, etc.

  10. I am working on the twitter assignment and honestly, I’m struggling to do it. I know it would be a good experience. However, I’m still conflicted about where I want to join. I think the assignment is a good idea because I don’t think people really engage in discussion on twitter very much.

  11. Not sure about the Twitter assignment thing. I always thought the idea is to get the students out of social media and into reality. Everyone these days are glued to their phones so it’s no wonder why there are many people struggling with nervousness when giving a public speech. There should be other public speaking options other then Trump Tower speech due to the fact that not everybody is a liberal or a Democrat. Just saying.

    1. Lawrence, I’m totally open to a different kind of assignment off campus. The Trump Tower assignment is optional. There’s also the option to do your own speech elsewhere. Let me know if you’ve come up with something else.

  12. Engaging online twitter is great assignment for people who have been using it. As for me, i get really nervous and lost my words when it comes to public speaking but this class is helping me put everything together. Definitely i am doing trump tower space.

  13. I feel as its good for us students to get a little push bc we dont push ourselves. Especially pushing ourself out our comfort zone. The twitter thing isnt for me because i just dont do twitter.

  14. I personally only use social media like twitter for news from specific accounts and rarely post myself. Maybe I’m wrong here but I feel like it’s kind of pointless to tweet unless you have a lot of followers (because then who’s reading what you post?). I think some people who would be willing to debate something online would do it on a specific forum dedicated to their particular interests rather than something more general like twitter; like on reddit for example where people post something on a particular subreddit they’re interested in.

  15. Taking a speech class means yes there will be talking and yes you will have to be apart of the discussions. I believe this is a good thing for all of us as people because in order to go on with life we must communicate with others. Also, taking about social media, in this case twitter can help students who aren’t comfortable enough to speak in person still be heard online. I believe those student don’t like to be speaking in public and that is okay but don’t forget to ad least try it out and see how it goes. You never know maybe you’ll be motivational speaker to others out there who have the same problem.

  16. I think giving students an opportunity to do speeches in a less traditional setting such as the TT is a great way to have them grow and prepare them to give speeches in the “real world”. I also feel such assignments also give students confidence since they are exposed to different types of situations where they might need to boldly share their thoughts.

  17. I love how you have incorporated public spaces in your assignments, this pushes your students to try new things. It isn’t shocking how many students have never been to Trump towers. Trump Towers is a location not often visited by students. The assignment that refers to having a twitter discussion is resourceful for those who use twitter constantly. And is a push to learn about the media and societal perspectives within the media. I personally loved the Trump Tower assignment, receiving positive feedback, and having you (my teacher) there made it better. I felt more comfortable seeing a familiar face.

  18. haveing students voice they’re opinions over the internet is very important because we live in a society now where we use the media as a way to connect with people from around the world. especially now where our politics are over the internet.

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