I have gotten a few projects funded through donors choose. This past one I had over $700. donated to our Wild Things production. So needless to say I was overly excited to get started after Christmas break.
First, you should know, I get super excited when inspiration hits. So that's how this all started. The minute I found out our local museum was hosting a Maurice Sendak exhibit and our students were going to go see it, I knew we just had to do a Wild Things play! I started dreaming about the wild thing masks, costumes and sets my students could create. I have amazing students this year and I was sure my enthusiasm would be contagious. Instead, some of my students got SUPER . . . nervous. I was NOT prepared for this response. Some even go upset. I could not figure out why one of my students looked so bummed while make her mask, so I sat down with her to talk.
After some small talk and finally a little prying she said, "I'm scared to talk in front of people." OF COURSE, how had I not anticipated this. My excitement blinded the reality of the situation. Such a rookie move! Now I took out the only thing I had left, THE ANECDOTE.
I told the terrified girl that I was a just as terrified when I was a kid to speak in public. I told her about the time when I had to recite the presidents in front of the class. By the time I got to Andrew Jackson, I felt like there was no AIR in the room. (I actually ran to the bathroom.) I told her how my mother encouraged me to practice public speaking. She took me to acting class and helped me practice with her, to a video camera, anything to make me more confident. This play was not for the natural actors in the class, it was for people who, like me, needed to practice. After all if my mom had not encouraged me, I could not be a teacher doing what I love.
After this pep talk the kids realized they weren't alone in their fears and came around immediately. I was surprised it could be that simple.
My only problem is this play was supposed to include all three 4th grade classes! The rest have the same reservations. So wish me luck as I try to encourage the others (in a way that will work for them) to be brave and have a good time with creating the set, making the costumes, and finally performing.
I'm taking away from this is the importance of listening. If I had known that a few of the students would not be enthusiastic would I have went for it with such gusto? No. But, I'm there to challenge, to listen, and help them grow. Call them growing pains, doing something new is not easy and neither is this play! My new excitement is not about creating amazing sets, or making insane costumes, but more about seeing that little girl get up and speak for the first time in front of her peers. Wish us luck.
I'll keep you posted on our Wild Thing journey.