Monday, October 1, 2007

Thanking My Students, Part Two

Now that I have "singled out" a few students who have worked exceptionally hard, I want to also note that the entire class has, just in these past few days, improved considerably. I think it has something to do with the old cliche that nothing ever happens in the theatre until the week before production. (Makes me wonder why we have all those other weeks of rehearsal, especially at such miserable -- or nonexistant -- pay.)

I've tried to analyze it and I think the moment when I grabbed some paint and slapped together a staff for Prospero (because it needed to be done, and my students weren't doing it) was actually a turning point. They immediately swarmed around me to protest that they were going to do that, and I told them that they hadn't done it yet, and it needed to be done now.

It felt afterwards, and still feels, like my worst moment as a teacher. I wasn't thinking like a teacher, and I wasn't even thinking like a director (there's a very specific hierarchy in the theatre about who does what, and one of the rules is that the director does no actual build work). I wasn't thinking about how my actions would impact my students, or whether I would teach them anything. I was just "these fucking props aren't getting made" and so I went to make them.

And after that the students started showing up outside of class, working late, etc. They were led by a few individuals, some of whom I mentioned in the last post. On the first day, as I noted, there were two students; on the second day there were six; and when I came in this morning they were all there, all working.

So... why did the one thing I did that seemed anti-educational (and, in fact, asshole-worthy) turn out to have the biggest effect?

And, to my entire class: thank you.

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