Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Empty Pot

“Dressed in our newest clothes we’re on our way.  We’ll see the Emperor on this special day…”  The third grade plays were wonderful!  Now, I wonder how long it will take to get all the the constant refrain of all these songs out of my head.   Last week, the third grade classes performed various Chinese folktales for friends and family.  We all enjoyed the finished product, but not many people know how much effort goes into those final performances.
First we need to reserve the stage to practice.  Since we have 6 classes, this is not an easy task.  To give each class a daily practice time, some of the teachers move their math block to accommodate others.  Every day one class will miss recess and use that time to practice.  The practice area is a common area, so our budding thespians must contend with people switching classes, walking through the rehearsal on their way to lunch or specials.
Now that we have our rehearsal schedule, we begin to look at other aspects of our play.  To help learn the music, we collaborate with the three different music teachers on staff.   We coordinate lesson plans and curriculum with both art teachers to help create some props and scenery.   The speech teacher rearranges her schedule to be available to help with her caseload.  We have 5 special education students participating in the play so the Special Ed. Team gets involved as well.   Two part-time staff members help with instruments and costumes.  We ask other teachers, “What about the lights and sound?  Who knows how to rewire these microphones?”  Soon, parents will be invited to volunteer to help with programs and dress rehearsal logistics. 
It’s not easy.  We are trying to coordinate with about 25 adults and almost 180 third graders.  Why do we do it?  Why do we disrupt our regular schedule and take on the extra time commitment and stress of this production?   Short answer: we love our students.  We believe the value of working together far outweighs the challenges we encounter.  For many, this is their first play.   We feel a swell of pride to see our students work so hard to learn their lines, cues and songs.  On Friday night, the POD filled up with parents.  The lights went down.  Narrator one began:  “Ancient China is a land of stories…” 
The kids are excited.  This play is a part of their story now.   I don’t know what I would have said last week, but now that it is over, I can honestly say, it was worth it.