Last year, around this time of year, I was feeling pretty discouraged about my daily life. I had just finished working a long-term sub job that had me reconsidering whether or not I wanted to be a teacher at all. I was still working for an after school program that really didn’t fit my ideals and while many of the students seemed to benefit from going through the program, I couldn’t help feel like it wasn’t the right place for me. I was also getting ready to compete in a CrossFit competition (that was still one of the highlights of that year…) and then I was going to go to Israel. Last year was definitely full of awesome experiences, but also some pretty challenging ones as well. I said a lot of goodbyes and put a lot of things on hold so that I could accomplish some of the things that I needed to do for work. And there were times where the stressful factors in my life actually had nothing to do with work.
If you had told me then that I would be teaching Theatre at a high school a year later I would have laughed at you. I would probably be really curious too, but I would have been laughing. I had already considered that for the school year that was quickly coming to an end and then, when it was evident that I was not going to get the job, I dismissed the possibility. If you had told me that I would love and hate my job all at once, I would shrug my shoulders and probably thought you were crazy. But it is a year later and I’m no longer working as a sub in two school districts or working for an after school program. I am a full-time Theatre teacher. I teach 6 class periods out of a 7 period day (including 3 sections of MYP and IB focus courses), I am the Drama Club adviser, and I am in charge of the after school productions.
Never would I have believed that, in my first year as a teacher, I would get to do so many challenging and unique things. Never would I have believed that it was as hard as it is. Never would I have believed all the craziness! But I would also never have believed that I would love it as much as I do. Now, even though I love it I’m not going to say I’ve never wanted to tear my hair out. Like I said, a lot of things happened to me in my personal life that had nothing to do with work, but found a way to infiltrate behind enemy lines so to speak and cause problems. I think that will always have a tendency to happen, but eventually I will get better at checking the issues in the car and picking them up later.
Anyway, I’m going to create a list here…. things I didn’t know about being a teacher – specifically being a Theatre teacher and sometimes about being a White teacher/person:
- Directing/Producing a play is really difficult.
You have to coordinate multiple teenagers, you have to run many tabs in your brain at once (acting, technical, and financial) while assigning teens to do things you’re not even sure how you would do if you were their age.
- Acting can be really difficult.
I never thought about how hard acting might be. I think it was always something I thought I wanted to do and when I did have opportunities to do it, I did kind of love it. But now, as an adult, I’ve a lot of inhibitions that keep me from jumping into the subject matter. I’ve lost a little of the “reserved” nature, but I’m still reluctant to do certain things….life memorize lines for a production.
- There are some kids who don’t want to be there.
These kids are pretty good despite not wanting to be in class. They’ll do their work quietly and do whatever it takes to get a passing grade.
- There are more kids who really don’t want to be there.
They will make your life a miserable mess. They don’t do work, they don’t even pretend to pay attention in class, sometimes they don’t even come to class for several days or even weeks simply because they don’t want to be there. And most of them are so addicted to their phones, they can’t be bothered to pay attention.
- There are a lot of kids who do not understand when certain activities or topics are not appropriate for the classroom…
- Politics around arts in education is bipolar
- Some of them don’t know what it feels like to be sunburned.
- Your students will probably not understand any of your figurative language.
They won’t get it…. and even when you explain…they still won’t get it.
- But they will expect you to understand their weird slang
- “on point” is way cooler than “on fleek” and describes how awesome something is… shoes, eyebrows, selfies…
- “af” is an acceptable description of how much of something you or something else is; how tired you are, how majestic you are…
- “squaring up” is not something you want to have done in your classroom
- you don’t ever want to be a “thought” and if you call someone “a thought” you better “square up.”
- “Come at me” is not an invitation you should take lightly
- You gotta keep it “one hun-erd” with them
- “Throwin’ shade” may lead to the invitation to “come at” someone while you are “squared up”
- “______ is life” is a serious commitment
- They will do anything for hot Cheetos
- It’s probably okay to let them go to the “liquor” to buy Hot Cheetos
- Theater and Theatre are 2 different things.
- Theater is a place, building, etc
- Theatre is the actual performance etc
- Costuming is hard to do
Finding the right size, the right look, and not breaking the bank on clothing….hard. I’ve come to really love thrift stores…
- Set design is hard to do
I really need to learn how to build things. I can draw them out fairly well, but the implementation is still a bit shakey. I have the power tools and the materials to do it….I just don’t have the know-how…
- IB sucks the life out kids, but also gives them a taste of what college is like…
I nearly tore my hair out. I was nervous. I wanted to get a perfect pass rate. I’m pretty sure I didn’t…
- Theaters can be really creepy
I think ours might have a spirit of some kind living there with all the rats and other critters…
- Some textbook distributors will give you free samples of the books about theatre…FREE…
This would have been good to know months ago…
- Musicals are harder than plays.
Coordinating with the music director to make sure that everyone is learning their part on top of all the other stress of a play is quite stressful. I would not recommend taking it on all on your own.
- You will spend so much time with your theatre kids, you’ll wonder if you know anyone your own age.
It’s definitely been an adventure; an adventure I’m excited to continue pursuing. I know my Grandpa would be proud of the work I’m doing and that means a lot to me.
Until next time…whenever that it is.