On October 8, 2021 we received an email from the Barrié Foundation. We were invited to participate in the I School Oratory Tournament (TEO), an educational and playful proposal to enhance students' communication skills. We loved the proposal, but we did not imagine that it would end up being such an enriching experience in many other aspects.
Once the registration was completed, the teachers Mr. José Antonio Pazos and Miss Laura Diego got down to work on this project. In December we both received a detailed training for teachers, in which we were informed of each and every one of the tests to be prepared for the tournament, as well as the most important aspects of communication to be worked on with the children.
We gathered the student who were going to participate and in January we started the work in the classroom. The team participating in the first category was formed by 2 Grade 3 students and 3 students 4-graders.
Each week our kids enjoyed two public speaking classes with both teachers, in which they worked on aspects of non-verbal communication, structuring speeches and persuasion.
During four months our students not only learned communication techniques, but they also learned new things about their classmates: in the improvisation test, for example, or in the "elevator pitch", or in tests with everyday topics such as "My favourite movie" or "Myself", new details or anecdotes about each other that we did not know always came up. They also learned about very important characters in history, such as Rosalía de Castro, Marie Curie or Pablo Picasso, or well-known speeches such as "Carpe Diem" from the movie "Dead Poets Society" or Michelle Obama's famous speech to the girls of the world.
On April 29th we had the wonderful experience of participating in the preliminary phase and showing how hard we had worked. Some students from the school joined us that day and together with the teachers, we all listened excitedly to our little speakers. We qualified in the preliminary phase among the top 8 and went on to the final round.
On May 27th, we participated again, but what we experienced that day enriched us in a different way. That day we discovered the value of companionship and kindness in children. At the end of the tournament, while the jury was deliberating, our kids approached the winning team that shared the room with us to congratulate them. And there we were, forming bonds and friendships with children who had shared the experience, sharing happiness, enthusiasm and kindness.
Each and every one of them evolved in an extraordinary way. Their presence on stage, their confidence behind the lectern and their courage to show how much they had practiced; but we also took with us beautiful memories with children from other schools, words of affection and recognition for the work done. And this has, I would say, undoubtedly been the best reward.
Ms Laura Diego, teacher.