Musings about life, happiness, theater, and more.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Theater Education

I want to start by making one thing abundantly clear - I love my job. Not, my job is alright, but I could do better. No. I freaking love my job. I love the kids, the parents, the staff, the actual work I do each day. At least once a week I tell my students that I have the best job in the world, and I genuinely believe it.
Budget cuts in the arts combined with budget cuts in education make job security and stability as a drama teacher nonexistent.
Before I got my teaching credential, I wanted to work for an education component to a theater company. Then, I got my credential and decided I wanted to build a drama program at a school. I've met that challenge, conquered that goal. All along, I've known I want to do the same for a theater company. Not just work for the education branch, but start one. Now that my job is in jeopardy, I am excited to start reaching out to small theater companies in the area. I can't believe how truly pumped I am! Who knew looking for a job could be such a wonderful feeling?
Now I get to update my resume and get a solid cover letter going. That's right, I get to!
Wish me luck on this adventure. Don't worry. Just because I am looking forward to this new opportunity doesn't mean I will be putting any less into my current position. The school year is almost over, and there is still so much more I want to teach my students! I will make sure they get the best Mrs. Bizzle possible. In fact, I think the excitement I feel about this new chapter will only make me a more enthusiastic and passionate teacher.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Today is the last day of Spring Break. It's so strange to think school starts again on Monday. On this lovely day, I'm thinking about Hugh Jackman...
Can't wait to see his one man show come May. Life is good. I will be sure to write a review. Although, how could he possibly disappoint?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring Break

It is Spring Break and I think about work a lot! More than I'd like to. I can't help but think about my classes and what we will be doing next. Or about my job standing for next year. Budget cuts are a remarkably scary thing for all teachers - especially those without tenure and who work in the arts.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


This is an email I received from a parent - one of the reasons I do this work.

"Hi Elle,

Cheers, cheers and more cheers to you for the extraordinary performance you spearheaded, cheerled, cajoled and masterfully executed last week.  It ignited in my own daughter a love for theatre that had not previously existed, and one that I truly believe will carry with her to high school where I expect she will stay involved in theatre.

Enjoy your much deserved break!"

What a wonderful note to kickoff my Spring Break. I love my job and the community I work in.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Great Activity

Today we took a break from the PSA Project. It was cute because one girl was so excited to get to work on the PSA, she asked if we could skip our routines and just get going. She didn't want to play a game or anything! I told her that I owed another student a new game, so introduced two new games to the class. It was a wonderful day.
Of the two games we played, the one they enjoyed the most was "Artist, Model, Clay." You may be familiar with it. Three students stand in a single file line all facing the same direction. Then have one of the kids at an end turn around. Now you have one kid facing two - all in a line. The one facing the two is the artist. The student closest to her is the clay, followed by the model. The model strikes a pose and the clay is not allowed to turn around and look at it. The artist then has to "mold" the clay without talking, touching, or demonstrating. My students, who are well-behaved, all called out, "What?! That's impossible." I told them to watch and did a demonstration with two girls. They faced me and I was the artist. The model struck a pose, the class laughed, so the clay turned around to see it. I reminded her she can't do that. So, the model struck a second pose and this time, the clay stayed facing me. I put my hands near her arm and kind of wiggled my fingers over the part of the body I wanted her to move - molding her like clay without touching, talking, or demonstrating. The class all gasped at how she immediately moved her arm the way I suggested. It was beautiful. It took maybe two minutes, and my clay looked just like my model. Then I had the clay turn (keeping her pose best she could) to see what the model was doing.
This game was so fun, they wanted to play it again even though school was almost over. I told them to just rotate through parts without me keeping track of time - I'm always trying to think of ways that will give them some ownership of the class. All groups but one just continued on through a second rotation without me having to ask. It's important that students know they need to choose poses they can comfortably hold for a few minutes. The kids then told me the exercise worked on team building, focus, precision, non-verbal communication, trust, and a few more I've forgotten now. I was so impressed with their work today.
If you teach drama, or just want to get kids working well together, I highly recommend this activity. It can take as much or as little time as you want. The students want to play again with new groups to see how it will be with different people. Next time, we are going to add the challenge of incorporating facial expressions.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

PSA Project Part Two

The students, 8th graders, agreed with me that discrimination, racism, homophobia, etc. could all lead down a negative path where we inadvertently offend people. The class has decided to do gossip and divided into two groups - trash talk, and telephone rumor mill. Even still I had concerns. How could we possibly do anything relevant yet stay totally school appropriate? How can we honestly walk the line of being truthful and avoid all conflict?
Well. Yesterday we had a meeting and I mentioned this project and my concerns. The best idea one group has is to have a student act silly. Then another student jokingly says, " Are you high?" They would then show the progression from the joke to "Student A is addicted to drugs." I thought this was brilliant because it's so real, but not okay because it doesn't represent the school well. Plus, I don't allow drug talk in class because it is obviously not school appropriate. Surprisingly (at least to me), all my coworkers love the project and the principal gave me the green light! She said something like, "This is real to them." Love it!
Today, I started class with our usual check-in and a game. We then sat in a circle and I talked openly with them about the meeting yesterday and my concerns. The students were attentive, needed a little guidance, and did an impressive amount of work. They feel very much like I do. They are shown PSAs all the time that are created for kids by adults, but adults don't know how to communicate effectively with them. We all agree they may be able to get through to their peers in a way that all of us well-meaning adults just can't.

Monday, April 4, 2011

PSA Project

In my 8th grade drama class, we are creating public service announcements. Last year, I assigned the groups and told everyone that the topic was Going Green. This year, I decided the students should get to take more ownership of the project. We spent half a class period talking about what the kids see as problems at our site. Whatever the topic, it needs to be relevant to them. They are leaning towards discrimination because then they can combine some of their favorite prevalent ideas - racism, stereotypes, sexism. I love how passionate the class is about this new project, but I'm worried about the outcome. We are going to have to walk a fine line of being honest about the issues at school without being offensive to anyone.
Tomorrow we are finalizing the topic and then we can figure out what the PSAs will actually look like. I want them to be creative, to think outside of the box, and make a PSA unlike any we've seen before. We watched this one for inspiration:


The school play is over. This year was the most successful show yet. On Friday night we sold out! Well, we ran out of tickets and just tallied people as they came in. We did have more people in the audience than chairs, but luckily students decided to sit on the floor in the front.
The kids did an amazing job. I'm so proud of them and am actually going to miss the that it's over!

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