I had the rare opportunity to work with a high schooler this week on a speech for our internship spring awards ceremony. I've worked with hundreds of 8th graders to help them write graduation speeches, so I figured I knew what to expect.
She strolled in, sat down and proudly said, "I'm not a speech writer."
I replied, "Oh, that's okay. We're going to write this speech together." (Everyone had told me that this student would be the perfect choice for the speech. I figured there had to be a good reason for recommending her.)
"The thing is," she continued. "I don't just plan what I'm going to say. I'm spontaneous, you know? I'm a poet. I don't write with structure."
"Well, speech writing is a bit like poetry." (Now I was really going out on a limb.) "You know, there's a lot of pauses, there's a lot of figurative language..."
"I don't plan ahead and I don't work with people." I was a bit stumped. She wasn't being defiant. She just didn't like the idea of writing a speech.
"Okay," I finally said. "Let's write a poem together." She looked at me for a long moment.
"I thought of a title," she said. "Dymond in the rough." (Her name is Dymond).
"Great start!" I said. We then proceeded to write an amazing speech together. Only she thought it was a poem.