Fun: On Being Taught

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Tonight is one of those nights that pumps me up enough to keep me stoked and ready to end the school year strong. I only have two of these nights per year. It’s not that there’s a limit, it’s just that the writing, the practicing, the rehearsing, the auditioning, the judging, the coaching from local Toastmaster members and the stage experience happen once in fall and once in spring.

I’m referring to our Writer’s Readings. Tonight was the Spring edition – a recital of sorts for the 6-8th graders selected for the show. Each of the 70+ students was required to audition in front of his or her peers. Each received an evaluation of their audition from three judges. Twenty-six were selected.

Mrs. Barker wrote the best script ever. Mrs. Farrell – another colleague – directed backstage and had amazing results. I drew stage diagrams for scene changes and mic placement.

Stage lights came up, went down, mics were moved, turned off and on at appropriate times and more.

The best part? All of the performances and technical aspects are executed with excitement and laser beam by students who range in age from 11 to 14.

Simply put, I stay constantly amazed.

The stage manager, Makenzie, made my job smooth. She asked great questions and made sure she and her crew understood what needed to happen – one more time. I appreciated that especially since I’m so focused on the students on stage, throwing lines if they pause and taking it all in. The technical theatre students learn this maturity from their teacher Abbie Malkewitz. They know how to control a large sound board and all the details that make a show happen.

Whoever thinks middle schoolers have atrophied brains due to video games don’t know the ones I do!

What I really enjoyed was what I overheard. Immediately after the show I watched as other creative writing students flooded a hall outside the theatre to find their peers and congratulate them. Not only did I get to see students present their original works, but I heard the squealing of excited classmates, laughing and proudly proclaiming their happiness for those who had been on stage earlier.

I think those of us who are adults could learn big lessons from overhearing this exuberance! Cheering on others makes you feel great as well.

I thank my students for those types of encouraging gifts.

That’s why it is worthwhile for me to answer an obnoxious alarm clock five mornings a week and drive downtown to spend my days in middle school. I’m learning quite a few lessons myself!

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