What Teaching Taught Me

I have a lot of funny anecdotes that I could tell from my last eight weeks as a drama teacher. I also have a lot of stories about children horribly misbehaving. But the overarching theme, as well as the point of telling any of them at all, would be that teaching has taught me a lot, about theatre, but also about myself:

1) I am not ready to teach on my own. My coteacher was sick one day and working on a show for a few others, and while I got through the day without the kids suspecting it, I was totally stressed all day.

2) I really like teaching kids. I always have, but this really showed me that I can do it for longer than a week. Though I did get frustrated when they misbehaved, that was a very select few, and happened rarely. Kids are so smart and creative, and what’s especially apparent in drama classes is that they’re not afflicted with the inhibitions that are ingrained into us as we hit our teens.

3) Kids like me and I am able to communicate with them, probably because I treat them like intelligent people instead of talking to them like dogs (hands on knees, high pitched voice, etc. Kids know what you’re doing and also know how stupid it is.)

4) I can teach new things. For most of my eight weeks, I was very much the assistant teacher: helping with demonstrations, being the example, etc. But the day my co-teacher was sick, it was a day when I had one group, two different times, and I was out of games that they could play. So over my lunch break, I looked up some games. Many of them weren’t appropriate for the age group, but I found one that might work, tweaked it a little and, after recycling a few games with them, introduced this one. They LOVED it and we played it for the rest of class, and it ended up being in the show.

5) I am bad at judging the abilities of an age group. This is a problem I’ve always had, even in high school. I either over or underestimate the abilities of an age group. This is a problem with general age groups and me, so forget when I have a group of kids that are the same age AND have a great difference in abilities. So while I successfully taught a great new game to one group, the group that was older than them ended up doing it for the show because they were better at it.

6) Teaching forces me out of my comfort zone in a good way. I have always been insecure about doing physical/movement stuff, even though it’s been a focus of my training since freshman year of high school. We did a lot of movement these last eight weeks, especially the second session, which was completely movement-based. I was terrified, but I had to teach the kids, so I had to get over it. And suddenly, I saw that not only can I do physical stuff, I’m actually pretty good at it.

This teaching job is the best on I’ve had since I graduated. I almost forgot it was a job most of the time because I enjoyed it so much. It’s great to connect with students; one of our kids said this past Thursday, “You know what I like about you guys? You’re like kids in adult bodies. You like to play.” And it’s true, I do; this job allowed me to do that AND make more money than I’ve made at my other jobs. While I’m not ready to teach solo yet, I certainly won’t balk at the very idea of teaching at all, from now on.

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