Happy Tears in Drama Class

Recently, I’ve been feeling a little bit down about my drama program at school. Teaching in a TITLE I environment is really tough. There are some days when I sit down at my desk and feel helpless because I’m supposed to be teaching Shakespeare to students that might never have even set foot inside a real theater venue. Other days, I feel like I’m finally getting through to my students, and it makes me ecstatic to have the privilege of teaching these very talented students who want to express and better themselves through the medium of theatre (as an art form).

Last Thursday was one of those fantastic days (if you’ve ever been a teacher, you know exactly what I’m talking about). I had not seen my 5th period class for two days prior to Thursday this week. On Tuesday, I had to go home with food poisoning (eww… gross), and on Wednesday, I was administering an SLO pre-test (don’t even get me started on that one).

My 5th period drama class is made up mostly of kids I’ve had in drama for the past couple of years. The students know me very well, and they have had me as their teacher for long enough to know what I expect from them in class (when I’m gone and when I am at school). I left directions for whomever subbed in my class to allow the student directors to run rehearsals in my absence and prayed that my kids would listen to each other while I was gone.

When I finally came back to my class on Thursday, I — naturally — expected to find that my classroom had become a disaster zone in the two days I was gone. (On a side note, all teachers expect this upon their return after being absent. We are all very particular people who like our classrooms “just so.” If you are a teacher and don’t feel this way, then you are lying to yourself).

Anyway, I came back, and my students directors said, “Mrs. Garrett, we really want to show you what we’ve been working on while you were gone! We missed you!” I told them I would watch what they had been working on and let them know what I thought about it.

I WAS BLOWN AWAY!!! In the span of two days, my 5th period drama class had learned a whole new song and dance number to put with the fundraiser show they’ve been working on for a couple of weeks now. I’m telling you, I was floored! Before I knew it, there were happy tears coming from my eyeballs because I was so proud of all the work the students had gotten done while I was gone. If you’ve ever been a teacher, I know this has happened to you before (and if it hasn’t happened yet, hang in there because it will happen to you when you least expect it). I got that feeling you get when you rediscover the reason that you do what you do. It is the best feeling in the world.

My 5th period Musical Theatre students made me remember why I teach on Thursday, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time.

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