I get to go into schools and deliver workshops to mostly 4th and 5th graders. We write stories in the workshop that may or may not be turned into a musical by Skylight artists and toured to schools. In the residency (something I do for about four different public schools around town) we'll put together a skit and present it to the other classes. The range in interest is vast. I teach in bilingual classrooms, inclusive LD classrooms, 6th graders who don't want to be there, 4th graders who really do, classrooms with wonderful teachers, classrooms with terrifying ones that belong in a Roald Dahl story. The hard part of my job is never the students - it's why I wanted a "teaching artist" role in the first place. Less administration. Only for part of the day rather than all of it (I seriously do not know how public school teachers do it every day!!) Just the fun part. No acronyms, no proving to a higher up that I know what I'm doing, and not even papers to grade - just lots of hilarious stories to read. (I did get out a corrector pen to write words of encouragement in the margins... I really loved it when teachers did that when I was a kid. It made me feel like my work was going somewhere.)
Absolutely the weirdest part of my job, outside of the showtunes that occasionally play from my boss' office, is the fact that I have a cubicle. It's big. I thought I would hate it, but as soon as I nested, it now feels like my own room. I'm comfortable and even territorial about it.
We played the game "machine" (stop, start, speed up, slow down)
We learned or re-learned what an onomatopoeia is
We learned words that Shakespeare "invented" (or wrote down for the first time) as they're written on my cards
We each got a word and had to turn it into an onomatopoeia with our voice, PLUS put a repeatable motion to it
We built a Shakespeare Machine!!
Audience got to make up what the scene could be about, as though all the moving parts were characters together on stage telling a story
... The goal was to learn how to make everyday words huge and beautiful, for speaking poetry in full sentences later. It pretty much worked, kids were hilarious. Scenery-chewing and hammery were highly encouraged. (A few boys fought over who got to be "Puking".) Now when I look at these cards, I remember specific movements and facial expressions my students invented and it makes me smile.
I'm keeping these cards in my bag, even though I don't teach Shakespeare right now. Maybe I will again next year. I sure hope so.
New things in my life tend to make me realize how difficult it is for me to let some other things go. The past few weeks I was working 50+ hours, which felt fine until I realized how tired I was. I wasn't stressed or sorry or regretful, just very sleepy - which is not a state you want to be in when you're surrounded by 12 year olds. I finally gave myself a break - gave a bunch of reception desk hours to a friend who only recently discovered she really needed them. It feels really great to be in only one place at a time!!
But some times, my mind wanders to places other than my cubicle, like leading ghost tours on weekends, or my forensics team at DSHA, or my soon-to-start classroooms at UWM filled with middle school students who want to make plays, or a classroom from 3 years ago... and that's okay, too. I think it's just how my brain works, and I like it.