But I don’t want to practice, I want to PLAY the piano!
All kids and, if we are honest we ourselves, feel this way about acquiring a new skill. Whether it’s soccer or guitar or dance or speaking, we want to “Just Do It”. And be good at it. We want to run through a song or a move or speech a few times, get the jist of it, and move on to something new and more exciting. Or perhaps we convinced that practice IS important and resign ourselves to muscle through mindless repetitions. The problem is neither of these strategies leads to much improvement and certainly not mastery. Improvement that does come, comes slowly and unreliably.
What’s the quickest way to achieve reliable progress in speaking skills? Mindful practice that develops automatic habits. Developing a habit of listening or articulation or projection means that it becomes second nature. It just happens regardless of other circumstances. Before I go to bed, I brush my teeth...whether it’s late or early, whether I’m happy or sad, whether the dog’s barking or it’s quiet in the house….I brush my teeth. And I don’t even think about it. But I sure did when I was learning how. I thought hard about how to go through those motions and my mom coached me and the dentist had me chew those red tablets to see if I did it well enough. It took a lot of mindful repetition and coaching, but I learned how to do it so well now I don’t even think about it. I bet the same is true for you too.
The same is true for our work in chapters. In the Toolbox, you’ll find repeated opening exercises and warm-ups that are designed to develop specific habits every student will need to quickly develop consistently strong presentation skills. As you use these tools in chapter, help each other mindfully and completely engage in these repeated activities and soon you’ll find cooperation, listening, problem solving, team-work, articulation, enunciation, and, inflection become habits that dramatically improve your student’s communication skills in every sphere of their lives.