English teacher Jon Degitz thrown into Speech and Debate
By Jasmine Fortier, Staff Writer
Degitz's displays his newfound love of debate.
The only requirement to teach Speech and Debate classes is that the teacher has an English teaching degree, which allowed Degitz to accept the position with little knowledge or experience in the field. Despite this, he felt he was ready to take on a new role.
“Well I was excited,” Degitz said. “I like new challenges, but I was also a little bit nervous, because I wanted to do a really good job as a teacher. I wanted to make sure if it was something I was going to take on that I would be good at it.”
Degitz was able to become a better Speech and Debate teacher with the help of his students, close friends, and trusted sources. He also had to essentially become a researcher so he could be well versed in the topics he was teaching his students. Degitz wanted to be able to be knowledgeable on the subject and be able to communicate it well to his classes.
Unlike Debate, Degitz had a better, although small background in Speech, as he had to take it in college. Debate though was very different to him. It was something new – a topic he was ready to dive into full heartedly.
“I was really excited to learn something new,” Degitz said. “I had some persuasive tips and strategies, things that I’d used in my English class previously, but I really tried to apply them to the debate world.”
In the Debate class, Lincoln Douglas was his hardest project to conquer with his students. Degitz was not very well versed in the structure and timing of it, making the technicalities and rules somewhat difficult to work into the classroom at first.
Degitz’s favorite Debate project ended up being student Congress. He had his students write their own bills and vote on the ones they would use during the Congress session, having them express their creativity along with found evidence.
As the debate events are usually heavily structured, Degitz managed to alter them to be looser and less rigid a difference from the competition forms so students could more easily understand them. One of the debates being the balloon debates where the students became a character or person in history and debated amongst each other who should be thrown off the hot air balloon first so it would not sink.
In Speech class, to help introduce students to each other, Degitz had them prepare PowerPoints that introduced something they were interested in or loved. This allowed them to become more comfortable with one another and understand certain points in their speeches they needed to improve during the semester.
Despite the challenges of the year, Degitz’s managed to learn new things and make something out of it.
“I feel really blessed and fortunate to have had such great students in my class,” Degitz said. “They were so understanding and supportive.”