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This meetup group is for developing a group of people interested in making low cost competitive speaking and debating opportunities available to kids in Michigan. We provide and receive support in the areas of coaching, judging, content, and recruiting/networking.
The league is in its 7th year. Our current areas of focus are the greater Lansing area and now Washtenaw county. Anyone who is interested in kids and communication skills should consider joining. Involvement can be as simple as judging a few rounds of improv, or as involved as coaching a 5th grade team once per week after school.
Priorities- Here are some of the operating priorities in the league:
Active Participation. Speech programs should not be exclusively or even primarily about people engaging in spectatorship. There is a place for distinguished visitors and a role for experts in education (obviously), but active learning and practice should take priority.
Simplicity. Programs should be simply structured, self-sufficient and resource-efficient to preserve educational focus and promote sustainability. This distinguishes this league from many high school and college leagues.
Community Based. Speech and debate coaches and judges should not be specialists. This is not to say they cannot have some specialty, but it is neither necessary nor particularly useful to require specific credentialing for the coaching and judging role, beyond basic orientation and information about rules. We should not accept "no" from anyone who could help but tries to step back because they are not qualified. Here are the qualifications: Can you care? Can you listen? Can you take notes? Can you respond? Can you encourage?
Integration. It is a good idea to situate speaking and debating within important broader contexts such as education standards, community issues, or important current events.
Openness/Flexibility. Sometimes format consistency is a matter of practical necessity, as in the need for speakers to know what to expect at a national conference or tournament. However, it is also beneficial to have diversity in activities and formats of speaking and debating, so programs should leave room for openness where possible. It’s also good to teach students to try new things and be comfortable when events do not unfold as expected.
Confidence. The most important outcome of speech activities is arguably the control of communication apprehension. It is a good idea to let students know of this goals as well; they will automatically be getting less nervous through practice, but if they also reflect on the virtue of confidence and willingness to speak up, the benefits will be more durable. Students should understand that using ones voice early and often will insure it is available to them when it matters more later on.
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