Welcome to Day 3 of Camp One Clap on the One Clap Speech and Debate Podcast where you can acquire s'more confidence, s'more skills, and s'more friends!
Today Counselor Bailey Patterson and Marcus Viney begin their four part series aimed at helping coaches lead their troop - Troop Leader Talk - with their first episode on coaching philosophy: Acorn to Oak. 🏕️👏🌳
Thanks so much to Camp Counselors Bailey Patterson, Marcus Viney, and Junebug for sharing the first of their four part series - Troop Leader Talk - and providing some valuable perspective about coaching philosophy!
Here is a transcript of Troop Leader Talk, episode 1:
Today, we shine a light on our Troop Leader coaching philosophy, something we feel is critical when embarking on your coaching adventure. Having a guiding philosophy in coaching is like having a map on a hike. It not only helps us stay on course but reminds us of our greater purpose – that we're not just coaching students to win rounds; we’re cultivating them to become confident individuals who are unafraid to use their voices in rounds and beyond.
Today’s Troop Leader philosophy is inspired by the illuminating ideas of Patsy Rodenburg, and her insightful book “The Right to Speak.” Patsy is a British voice coach, teacher, and theater director who has coached many notable performers including Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, and Natalie Portman, but has also worked with many business leaders and politicians, like former President Barack Obama. I was first introduced to her book “The Right to Speak” in my Master of Fine Arts speech and voice classes. Shout out to my speech and voice instructor and overall amazing individual, Rachel Hirshorn-Johnson for introducing me to this work. And I heard about this life-changing book from Troop Leader Patterson, so shout out to you too Bailey!
Unlike what you might expect for a voice and speech book, so many of Patsy’s ideas are focused on listening, empathy, and nurturing every unique voice. “The Right to Speak” is both a list of vocal exercises, as well as general philosophy on how to make sure everyone, no matter how trained, inexperienced, or fearful can embrace their right to speak, something Patsy claims is one of our most fundamental rights.
As coaches we often encounter students who really want to win and assume that they win by learning what to say and the exact right way to say it. They want to win by mirroring who is currently winning or by shape-shifting their voice to sound like their friend who does well. But in the realm of speech and debate, we’re not just shaping speakers, we’re nurturing human beings, and Patsy’s philosophy is centered around a simple yet powerful truth: Every voice matters, and every voice is unique. Our task isn't to give our students a new voice or mold them to fit a preexisting standard. Rather, we're here to help them unleash the authentic voice that's already within them.
Picture, if you will, our students as tiny acorns. That’s right, little nuts. Small and unassuming on the outside, but brimming with potential on the inside. These acorns aren’t just future oak trees, but beautiful forests waiting to spread their branches and make their mark on the landscape. Now, our job as educators is akin to that of a keen and caring gardener. We can’t force our tiny acorns to sprout into mighty oaks overnight or become some kind of tree they are not. That'd be like asking a marshmallow to survive a campfire unscathed. Impossible! (And delicious). What we can do, however, is provide the right conditions for growth, encouraging them to unleash their authentic voice.
But, you might wonder, why do we need to unleash these voices? If the potential is already in the acorn, why does it need a gardener? According to Patsy, there are a variety of societal factors that make us less and less vocal as we grow up. She notes that we have the widest vocal range as babies, but societal norms and expectations slowly but surely stifle this natural inclination towards vocal expression. This is reminiscent of Pablo Picasso’s observation that “every child is born an artist. The problem is how to remain one as we grow up.” We've all heard the old adage "children should be seen and not heard." This attitude can lead to a deep-seated fear of public speaking, a fear of being humiliated, excluded, or ostracized.
In Patsy’s words, our society simply does not encourage us to be vocally free or expressive. Many of us have been taught to feel uneasy about expressing words and sounds openly. Our society likes to control our volume and keep us vocal hostages; it doesn't want to hear the thoughts and opinions of certain groups like children, women and minorities. We first learn to shut down and then begin to shut up.
Therefore, as Troop Leaders, we are working against poor environmental conditions as we help our students rediscover their innate voices. We are not just teaching them how to deliver a line correctly or get the right gesture; we’re nurturing their confidence, helping them become more comfortable with expressing themselves, and ensuring that their voices are heard and valued. You’d be surprised what students can accomplish, when they feel empowered to make their own creative choices.
So how can we create the right conditions to transform from acorns to oaks? A key aspect of this is creating safe, validating spaces where students are comfortable making mistakes. This requires practicing active listening, showing our students that we genuinely value their input and opinions, not only regarding their performances but also within the team dynamics. We must also work to nurture their confidence. This means celebrating their successes, however small, and supporting them through their failures, reminding them that each stumble is a stepping stone towards success. Our mission is more profound than coaching them to win rounds or tournaments. We’re facilitating the growth of empowered individuals who are comfortable in their own skin and confident in their ability to communicate effectively. However, when the acorn and gardener are focused on personal growth and validation, the student is more likely to experience that much sought-after competitive success, not just thrive despite it. Put simply, when you focus on winning you don’t grow, but when you grow, you have the best shot at winning.
Each one of our students is a precious acorn, carrying within them the potential to become a mighty oak. As we move forward in this journey together, let us keep this perspective close to heart. Let’s remember that every time a student raises their voice, takes a risk, makes a mistake, tries something new, takes on a new challenge, it is a testament to their journey of self-discovery and growth, and a critical opportunity for us to be the nurturing gardener they need. Until our next gathering around the campfire, stay resilient, resourceful, ready for anything, and remember the right to speak. Happy camping! I mean coaching."
Troop Leader Talk: Camp Counselor Bios
Marcus Viney is the head coach of speech and debate at Cheyenne East High School where he has been coaching for nearly a decade. He has Master’s degrees in Philosophy and English from Colorado State University. He currently serves as the District Chair of the Hole-in-the-Wall District for the National Speech and Debate Association, as well as the President of the Wyoming Speech and Debate Association. Marcus has celebrated multiple state and national championships with the East High team. Most recently he was inducted into the Wyoming High School Speech and Debate Hall of Fame. However, he is perhaps best known for his local celebrity pug, Junebug.
Bailey Patterson is full time communication faculty at Laramie County Community College where she teaches public speaking. She has an MA in Communication from the University of Wyoming and will graduate with her MFA in Theatre Performance and Pedagogy from Texas Tech University this December. Recently, Bailey won the National Kennedy Center Irene Ryan Acting Award and the 2022 Jane Alexander Emerging Artist Award from the College of Fellows of the American Theatre. Back in her day, she was a Wyoming state champion in DI, Duo, and Poetry and was the first ever Wyoming automatic qualifier to the National Tournament in dramatic interpretation. However, she is perhaps best known for being best friends with local celebrity pug, Junebug.
Junebug is a widely beloved and celebrated pug in the Wyoming speech and debate community and beyond. She charms everyone she meets with her calming demeanor and cheerful snorts. Small but mighty, Junebug is one of the most talented and experienced coaches given her dedication to after school practices and in-town tournaments. While she’s known for disrupting duo blocking sessions, she’s unmatched for her empathy and ability to care for people facing obstacles or hard times. When she’s not leading the troops, she loves to percolate while sunbathing on the back deck. Her favorite food is ham and she’s a world-class napper. Discover your chance to connect with this total cutie @junebugpug on Instagram and Threads.
Thanks so much to Counselors Bailey Patterson, Marcus Viney, and Junebug! Episode 2 of Troop Leader Talk: Hitting the Bullseye will drop next Thursday at Camp One Clap!
Tomorrow, there’s lots to look forward to at camp: Croc Hiking with EZ Platform starring Ella “E” Goodman and Zcherina “Z” Villegas will debut the first of a four part series with Oratory and Informative tips, tricks, and hacks. Professor Graham and Kevin will be back with another ABCs of Debate video too!
Camp One Clap Social Media Challenge for Day 3 of Camp:
Tip Thursday! Offer up a public speaking, debating, or performance tip! Share your tips with our Speech and Debate community to help others improve their skills!
I'll be posting my answers on the One Clap Speech and Debate TikTok channel! Be sure to tag our social media accounts or use the hashtag #CampOneClap23 when you post. If you post for at least 20 days of August, I will send you a holographic Camp One Clap Sticker. If you post for all 31 days of August, I will send you a variety of One Clap and Camp One Clap stickers, a One Clap Speech and Debate coaster, AND a Camp One Clap magnet!
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Check out the 2023 August Wyoming Speech and Debate Newsletter from One Clap: