Magdalene Hoy was co-organiser of High School Day (with her mum, Tsui Ling Hoy). She pens down her reflection of the event, and advice for the HSD 2021 team.
- Organise schedules
- Organise the rehearsal and filming for HSD
- Look through speaker’s speeches and give feedback
- Collate feedback from HSD
- Created a manual for incoming team for 2021
In 2019, Homeschool Convention introduced High School Day.
“The vision of High School Day is to empower homeschooling and homeschool-graduated young people with a voice. That they can speak about their homeschooling journey, according to their experiences, clearly and without fear, will inspire their listeners; a path less traveled isn’t a bed of roses but a garden of many blooms. We want to showcase diversity, differences, opposing and complementary points of view that reflects the true breadth of homeschooling in Singapore. These are the homeschooled children and here are their stories.”
My Own Experience
As one of the speakers at the first High School Day (HSD) in 2019, I enjoyed being able to share my experience as a homeschooler alongside my peers. I learned so much about myself as well as my peers through this experience. I was able to take time to reflect on my journey as a high school homeschooler.
The first HSD team was very special to me – it was organized by Aunty Dawn together with my elder brother John Hoy and two of my high school classmates were also part of the team. Being a part of the HSD team last year gave me the opportunity to share my story, contribute during the Q&A session and be part of an interview. I had a wonderful experience in the few months of preparation.
I was so grateful for the opportunity that when Aunty Dawn asked me to co-lead with my mum this year, I was so pumped by the idea. I wanted to guide the group of teens and help them to identify and share their stories, just like how I was given a chance last year.
Knowing Your Team
The first step to guiding the speakers towards HSD is knowing their experience on a platform. Knowing your team is a crucial step to working with them leading up to HSD.
- Find out about each team member’s public speaking experience.
This helps you to know which team members in the team will need more guidance and who is more familiar with the stage setting. In this year’s team, we had three speakers who were very familiar with speaking on a platform, three who had some experience and one who was completely new to public speaking.
- Enable them to tell their story.
Each speaker in the team was at a different point in their homeschooling journey. In this year’s team, it ranged from a first year high school student to speakers who had entered tertiary education and National Service.
As the organizer, finding out their story and asking them to share something unique and specific to their journey is important. Ask and remind them to include personal experiences because everyone has them. No experience is too small or insignificant. Adding in personal experiences makes a huge difference to the speech, it gives the audience a sense of authenticity.
They each had different experiences they wanted to share: their experience transitioning from public school to homeschooling, the support they had while homeschooling and the struggles they had overcome during their homeschooling journey.
Working through Drafts and Deadlines
After they’ve identified their story/topic, allow them to go ahead and write their first draft. After that first draft, it is important to have a meeting with the whole team. Not everyone knows everyone in the team. That was so for this year’s team.
At the meeting, allow each speaker to read out their first drafts. Some might not have a complete 10-minute script at this point. It is ok. Let them share what they have. Get the rest of the team to give constructive feedback to each speaker. Since this might be the first time some of the speakers meet, some might be more reserved in sharing. Let them know beforehand that each one in the team should help give feedback and every piece of feedback is valuable. No speaker’s speech is perfect and ready to go on the first draft. It can take countless drafts and polishing before it reaches the final draft. Allowing each speaker to give their feedback to one another gives the speaker different perspectives on how he/she can improve their speech further. After this meeting, speakers are to work on their second draft.
Set another date to meet to go through the second draft. Those who intend to use slides should also start working on them. After the second meeting, some scripts might be ready with minimal changes and are ready as a final draft.
It is important to have meetings and allow speakers to give each other feedback. This way, those with more experience could give constructive feedback to the speakers with lesser experience and they can grow together. As the team is on a four-month journey until High School Day, they are there to share their story, grow in their speaking skills and of course, have fun! It is also helpful to allow the team to have a meal together or an activity outside of looking through each other’s speeches. This helps with the bonding between speakers especially if they’re not familiar with each other.
During this journey, there will be ups and downs. There will be times where deadlines might not be met or speakers who might be struggling with their speeches.
Here are some ideas you can use to ensure deadlines are met.
You can be assertive on your deadlines while checking on speakers if they need your help.
- Give them reminders for deadlines- a week before, 3 days before, the day before and on the day itself.
- Individually check on each speaker- some speakers might not be comfortable asking for help in the main group chat. Individually checking on each speaker will give the speakers that space to open up and ask for help if they need.
Always remind the team that you are there to help and they do not need to do this alone. At times, it can be daunting to think about sharing their personal sometimes vulnerable story to strangers. It is a good idea to share their victories and struggles.
Adapting to Changes
Homeschool Convention 2020 became an E-Convention. To manage the Covid 19 situation, the government put in tighter measures and the Circuit Breaker came into effect on 8 April 2020. Prior to that, the Convention Team had already decided to bring the Homeschool Convention totally online and preparation was underway. It was originally planned for the HSD team to meet and record their speeches on 10th April but because things on the ground were moving so fast and evolving so quickly each day, my mom decided to bring it forward by a week to 3rd April. The team now had a few days to ensure all scripts and slides were final and ready. Little would we expect that it was on this same day that the Circuit Breaker was announced by our PM in his address to the whole nation.
To ensure that the team is ready to speak in front of a camera on the day of recording, getting each to do a recording at home as a practice prior to that will give them an idea of what to expect. This will also allow us to give them feedback based on their recording so they can have time to improve before the actual recording day. Although some of the speakers were disappointed, they also shared that this gave them the opportunity to try new things, like giving their speech in front of a camera, for example.
It was something new for the team and me, but I must say that I am really proud of how they had adapted and were so willing to accommodate all the changes.
To the team, I would like to say: Thank you so much for being willing to share your stories and for being committed and spending time writing and rewriting your speeches and for setting aside time to meetup. Listening to your speeches and how genuine and authentic you are has been so inspiring. Even though it has been a pretty different experience from what I had last year, I am so thankful that we were still able to have High School Day online. As I look back at how I got involved, I want to thank Aunty Dawn and my Mum for giving me this opportunity to help out and serve the Homeschool community. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the teens and being able to use what I enjoy doing- organizing and planning for High School Day 2020. I’ve learned so much from this journey and I’m so thankful for this experience!
Interested to run a public speaking program for your homeschooling co-op? We offer an 8-session course run by Magdalene for upper primary school-aged kids and above. Each child will receive a personalised public speaking kit, and work towards a public speaking event organised with your community. $20/child/session. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.