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Dramatic Pause

Yesterday I attended our school theater performances in which the students direct and sometimes write the short skits they perform.  They call it Dramatic Pause, and the performances are judged so students get feedback from people other than their regular theater teacher.  Students manage the lighting, sound, props (there is a theater production class students can take with a wood shop where they make props for all the productions at the school), the costumes.  It was great fun and the skits were everything from serious to silly.  The high school improv team did a few interactive pieces with the audience and cracked everyone up.  What I really like about the theater performances is that each time, I see different students that I know from my classes and I get to meet their parents and friends.  Being involved with activities outside of class can be difficult for many students.  Some have jobs, or family responsibilities, or are new to the country and unfamiliar with extracurricular activities that are different from sports.  Don’t misunderstand me, I like sporting events, too but there are varied and rich opportunities for students of which sports are one component.  The school years, and in particular, the high school years, open up students to an array of possibilities their families might not have considered, be able to afford, or even know about.

2012-11-15 Garfield Theatre 1

When I was a high school student, I did not participate in extracurricular activities for the reasons I mentioned.   My father was an immigrant who learned English after he was  an adult.  My mother grew up during the depression and did not finish high school.  Neither had experience with extracurricular school activities, and those they learned about from us were often things they could not afford.  I talk to my students in class about what they are participating in outside of school and I try to get to different activities (swim meets, theater, music,  political groups).  I want to offer students a view of what they can get from their time at school and it’s more than merely classroom learning.  They learn how to be in the world, how to interact socially, how to take on leadership roles, how to work for and with others, how to question, and how to begin to find their own way.  That’s what school should do.  It should prepare young people to face the world and be able to learn without us.  In many ways, teaching is like parenting.  As my sister always says, “A Mother’s job is to be left.”  If we do our jobs right, our children will leave us and be ready to move forward with their lives without us.  That describes teaching, too.  Certainly we are important and can teach students many things, but we must not only teach them what we can about our subject.  We must help them be ready to leave us and continue to learn on their own.   Giving students the chance to explore many aspects of our society while they are with us (theater, art, sports, mathematics, the sciences, literature, music), makes them ready for the world.  I will continue to acquaint myself with what is happening at the school and encourage my students to take advantage of opportunities.

~ by anitawesto on March 9, 2013.

teaching