October 6, 2007

A Good Day with Students and Will

This week I had one of those teacher moments when I was just so proud and happy that I just wanted to cry.

I took a sixty students to see Twelfth Night in a Shakespeare-in-the-schools type of program. This little field trip had been the works since last spring when I attended a Saturday seminar, which was a requirement for me to be invited to bring students to the program. Another teacher who had participated in the program in the past has helped along the way, and she helped me organize the whole thing and then also helped chaperone.

We left the school quite early in the morning so we could arrive at the theater on time even if there were problems and so that we could possible get good seats. I warned the students up front that it would be a day of hurry up and wait. You know like Disneyland. We were going to hurry up and get there, but it was likely that we'd be there 30 minutes before the performance. Afterward, we'd have to wait to be dismissed by school, and then we'd have to hurry to board the bus so we could get back in time for lunch at school.

I also did the quick lesson on theater etiquette, where I told them they better be about to vomit if they need to go to the restroom during a performance, otherwise it wasn't happening. We also went over the difference in how we appreciate actors as opposed to athletes. There was some threatening going on, but then I also appealed to their pride when I mentioned the rumors that our students are the best behaved whenever we take them out on field trips. I wouldn't know, though, as I don't like field trips.

And wouldn't you know it? My students were so patient (we ended up being there an hour early because the performance didn't start on time thanks to other schools coming in late) and they earned a prize (a poster signed by all the actors) from the program directors for displaying exemplary theater etiquette. Of course, I took only the students who wanted to go to the performance, but there were some students that I wouldn't have expected to go. The wiggliest kid I've had in five years sat behind me, and he was even able to sit somewhat still during the waiting and the performance.

While we were all waiting, seated near the front of the theater, in this beautiful open-air pavilion, I looked over all my students who were quietly visiting with each other, excited for the performance to begin, and my heart just swelled. What a perfect day to share a theater experience with a wonderful group of students!

What my students don't know is that event will likely be a memory that sticks with them for life. How do I know? I remember the cool field trips I went on when I was a student (like the Ramses II exhibit more than 20 years ago), and I certainly remember the first Shakespearean performance I ever attended (much into my adulthood for that one). Oh, I know it wasn't the first Shakespearean play for many of them, but I know it will still stick with them, as it will with me, for quite some time.

P.S. Later in the day during class, the students asked what the other chaperone and I had been laughing at during the play. Parts were very funny! We've been working with the play for weeks now, but many of my students still did not know what was going on as they were watching the play. I'm bummed that they weren't as tickled as I was, but they've been exposed. Besides, they claimed that the other teacher and I were the only ones laughing. I'm not ashamed. I need a good laugh.

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