Helpful approach wins PSC Professor Joshua Green national award

  Professor Joshua Green gives direction to students
  at the 2017 speech camp he organized at Prairie
  State College.
(Provided photo)
 
One special comment, suggestion or word of encouragement from Joshua Green can make a difference for a student in a competition.
 
Green’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Speech team competitors in regional and national meets selected the Prairie State College associate professor of communications the 2018 Collie-Taylor Coach Fellowship Award winner. The award recognizes the coach who best exemplifies coaching excellence.
 
Green is the coach and co-director of the PSC speech team, and teaches communication, theater history and acting.
 
The outgoing professor was excited to receive the award at the Phi Rho Pi National Tournament, hosted by the Phi Rho Pi Forensic Organization. The national community college tourney was in Daytona, Florida, in April. He took six PSC students to the competition and one made it to the bronze level.
 
Green, who has been at PSC since 2014, said he gives students his feedback because competitions are meant to help them grow and learn from the experience. He is known on the Region IV Midwest circuit as a helpful coach who students see at least five times during a typical speech season that has eight or nine tournaments between October and mid-April.
 
Competitors get written feedback for their presentations in 12 specialty areas, including poetry, prose, dramatic interpretation, extemporaneous speaking and persuasion. For Green, that means comments should be more than telling students “poor job or do better. It’s an honors educational activity so comments we give are to help students progress and advance, and a lot of times I go beyond. I try to be as helpful as possible, especially early in the season.”
 
For example, Green has given students suggestions on source materials for speeches because “you want your sources to be up-to-date and another source may give a different perspective on your topic,” he explained. And, he remembers one couple presenting a dramatic piece, but the tall male student overshadowed his petite partner. Green suggested they block the scene differently so he was behind her.
 
Green got his start in speech and theater at Homewood-Flossmoor High School. The 1999 graduate went on to Miami University of Ohio earning a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and then a master of fine arts degree from UCLA where he majored in theater.
 
He’s done repertory theater, appeared in commercials, had small parts on television shows and was a journalist in San Francisco before returning to the Chicago area. He worked for a time on the Sun-Times digital edition, and then got the job at PSC in the communications department. 
 
Speech is an aside to his regular schedule of communications classes that are mandated for most students. He works at helping them understand that whether they believe it or not, communication tools will be helpful in the future.
 
“I think a lot about my role as an educator and what I want them to do and walk away from my classroom with a skillset,” Green said. “We’ll talk abstractly about theory, but I want to give them tools: How do you dialog to solve the problem? Or, if your employer asks you to give an oral report on how your (team) is doing, you need to do an important speech. How are you going to structure that?  You have to sell this campaign to a client. That’s persuasion. How are you going to structure it?”
 
To get students comfortable communicating with each other in practice sessions, Green uses actor/theater games the first three weeks of class. He finds the students “are communicating with each other and they don’t know they’re doing it, and as the course goes on they become more familiar with more practice.”
 
One thing Green stresses is “your objective is to develop a strategy to solve the problem” but he realizes often students are nervous. He wants to help them overcome their stage fright because once they can get over thinking about themselves and how they feel, they can meet their objective of sending a message in a way that is easy to receive.  Sometimes his examples are commercials he’s done.
 
Green believes the ability to work with customers and colleagues is important. “We’re in the Information Age, so any job you take on is going to require communication skills,” he said. 
 
Now he’s gearing up for a PSC Summer Speech Camp meeting Monday through Thursday, July 9 through 19. The camp is a mini training session for high school students interested in competing in the Illinois High School Association speech circuit. H-F teacher Janine Stroemer assists with the class.
 
Green has done some theater in Chicago and appeared as a lawyer in Season 1, episode 11 of “Empire,” but he puts time in his schedule for quality family time with his wife, Alexandra, a music teacher at PSC, and their two young children. The family lives in Flossmoor.
 

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