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  • Louiza Easley

Teacher Highlight: Jillian

Updated: May 21

Teacher Jillian is ThinkTalk’s newest teacher! She is an accomplished debater and public speaker, and has a long record of teaching students. Let's get to know her more!

Can you introduce yourself? 

I am Jillian, I’m a master's student in the United States. I study communication, and more specifically, I study how we talk to people about death. I am currently working on a project focused on how we talk to children about death, especially when they’re terminally ill and the support we give them. 

How long have you been doing debate and impromptu? 

I competed for three years as an undergrad in both

debate (NPDA and IPDA) and impromptu speaking. In most of the tournaments I competed in, I ranked in the top 6. My first tournament win was at Carson-Newman University in Tennessee, USA, where my partner and I took 1st place overall in NPDA. 

What do you like most about debating and public speaking?

I like debating and speaking because it expands my thinking about different world events. In debate, it's not enough to form basic arguments and have real-time information. It requires me to build solid arguments, and teaches me how to place the burden on the other team, speak eloquently, and research evidence rigorously. These are all things I use in my day to day life.

How do you apply it in your life? 

My debate and public speaking experience directly plays into how I evaluate world events. When I see news stories, and especially when I come across a statistic someone is trying to use, it sets off alarm bells to think more critically about what I’m reading. I didn’t have those alarm bells before debating. Debate also taught me to evaluate to what extent a source is biased, to look at multiple sources on the same topic, and how to see through the gaps that articles contain. 

Beyond that, I use the skills I learned from debate in my master’s program. I currently teach speech events, debate, and public speaking classes with my university, so it all directly translates. These skills help in my research also, as it helps me evaluate what my strongest claims are, see through any potential errors or gaps in my work, and to find the best supporting evidence. Of course, speech and debate has also allowed me to form strong relationships with people who have similar interests and goals. I stay in touch and work with many of the individuals I met during my undergraduate years of speech and debate. 

What do you appreciate most about teaching? 

I have several years of teaching experience. I started out teaching one-on-one and groups of children (K-12) in math–anything from basic multiplication/division through calculus. Now I coach for the debate team and teach public speaking at the university. What I like most about teaching is seeing the students grow, because seeing that light bulb moment, where everything makes sense, is priceless. It’s also because their arguments and perspectives contribute to my growth as a person, a speaker, and a teacher. My non-teacher answer is seeing them have fun with their speeches and throwing funny jokes into their performances–I find those instances entertaining.

What do you like most about teaching at Think Talk? 

Working at Think Talk is great! The children in my classes are very engaged, and the course curriculum developed by the team is structured and solid. The curriculum is easy to adapt to the children’s age and there is constant support and communication on the team. 

What do you do outside of teaching and debate?

Aside from my research for my master's, I crochet clothing and I am very invested in science and architecture, mainly in the form of Lego Architecture sets.  

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