Teacher shares her own story with her students

February 22, 2013|Lisa Prejean

"Extra, Extra! Read all about it!"

Newsboys used to stand on street corners and proclaim these words so passersby would know that the newspaper was ready to be purchased. The boys would hold canvas bags full of papers "hot off the press." The newspaper contained the latest information, and people wanted access to those stories.

This explanation seemed like an natural way for me to begin a recent speech I gave about my background.

From as long as I can remember, I have loved stories. I love listening to stories, telling stories, writing stories.

A few weeks ago when I wrote about my public speaking class and that the students had asked me to do the same assignment that I had given them — a introductory speech — I promised that I would write a column about my part of that assignment.

First, I had to decide on a theme that would tie together my past, present and future. The storytelling theme seemed to fit well, so I went with it.

Next, I had to select three items — one each from my past, present and future.

The past choice was easy. I chose my childhood copy of "Chicken Little" because it is a story about telling a story. An acorn falls on Chicken Little's head. She thinks the sky is falling and is determined to tell the king.

For some reason, I always related to Chicken Little. After all, important information must be delivered to the people who need to know.

The item from my present was our school's most recent yearbook. I love working with teenagers and investing time in them. Their stories are important to me, and I want to help them remember and express their high school memories.

It took me a while to select an item to represent my future. I finally decided on a blank journal because the story is yet to be told.

Once the three items were selected, I needed to find an attention statement to use as the opening of my speech.

Yes, I admit that the "Extra, Extra" one was a pretty obvious choice, but I used it anyway because it seemed to fit so well.

Next, it was time to develop an outline and practice, practice, practice.

I soon found out that this speech was harder than I realized. 

I like talking about and teaching concepts, but talking about myself? That's something I really didn't want to do, but I did it anyway so I could relate to my students.

Doing the same assignment they had to do gave me a greater appreciation of them. I think they appreciated my efforts, too.

As long as they don't expect this with every assignment, we'll be fine.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send email to her at

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