Sam @CUSP Conference 2015

Monday, October 1, 2012

Me and the girls: teaching theater

I had my second theater class with my 24, formerly 23, students over the weekend and it was another good class.

It was a bit more difficult to get one of my older girls engaged. In fact, she started the class by saying, "I don't like this class. I don't want to participate." Eventually, she joined in when she wanted to play a game with us, and she wanted one of the notebooks that I gave to them to write their own monologues.

She is a dominant force out of all of the girls. And, it can be challenging to keep her engaged without disengaging them. But, I'm learning how to manage them all. I should have it down pat by Nov. 10 (my last class). LOL.

In all seriousness, it is going well. It is a lesson in theater for them. But, I feel like I am learning SO much.

One of the things I have learned in my new adventure of teaching is not to promise anything. I told them I would bring them books (The Diary of Anne Frank) and I wasn't able to get enough for all two dozen of them. So, I had to bring books they could look at during the class and then give them the notebooks to write their own monologues. Some of them were disappointed that they didn't have a book to read. I felt bad. But, they seemed to be satisfied by the fact that they could create their own monologues instead of just reading and relating to someone else's words.

I passed around Tupac's The Rose that Grew from Concrete, For Colored Girls...,and The Diary of Anne Frank as inspiration to help them write their own monologues.

One of them studied the monologue I passed out from last week from The Diary of Anne Frank and recited it for the class. I was thrilled, and impressed, that she took the time to do some work outside of class.

I try to keep them involved in the class by also allowing them to "act" or perform however they want to express themselves. The result of that was a few of them rapped, some of them sang and I was super impressed that a large group of them frequently write songs/raps together. They bounce ideas off of each other and they come up with really rhythmic and awesome songs. These girls are really talented!

Teaching is this new, scary, beautiful, dynamic adventure. I really hope that one of the girls, at least one, walks away with the confidence and more awareness of how talented and wonderful they are. And, hopefully, this will make them think about themselves, their lives and futures differently so once they are no longer adjudicated, they can make better decisions. I hope that once they get out they can feel empowered to continue to search their imaginations and creativity.

Eight weeks is not a lot of time to "change someone's life." But, I hope that their hearts and minds open a little bit more to the possibilities that come with leading a positive life.

These girls really inspire me to want to be a better person so that I can be a good mentor. I really think about the decisions that I make more intently because I really believe that you have to practice what you preach.

I'm excited to see where we, myself and my students, are as artists and people over the remaining 6 weeks.



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