Day 6: Small Wins #Aprilblogaday Challenge

Prompt 6: What was your most recent "awe-inspiring" moment in the classroom? 

I am off this week. It is a much needed break.  I returned to work 11 days after having my thyroid and a baseball size tumor removed from my neck as a preemptive strike against the cancer growing in my body.  I had little voice due to damage to my right vocal chord and found myself teaching with a cordless mic. I made it through 6 hours of parent-teacher conferences at the end of that first week back.  21 days post surgery I was done with most of my teaching as we went into break.  This spring break is a relief.  My voice is tired and my body too.  


I had planned to be back sooner.  I had meticulously planned the schedule for my 9th grade theatre students for all of March, including the time I had "budgeted" to be out.  I have an alternating schedule - one week I see each block 3 times the next only 2.  The kids had been working towards oral presentations- showcasing the research they did on a chosen figure from theatre history. In the unanticipated extra week I was out, my students as a result had an extra 3 days of class time to work on their projects with the clear expectation we would hit the ground running upon my return.

This is just what happened.  Over the following 6 school days 130 9th graders all got up and one by one delivered oral presentations.  Kid after kid walked to the front of the room, stepping to the podium, and with 5 minutes on the timer- monitored by a student timekeeper- each kid did their thing!  Even the students who had incomplete work still got up in front of a room of their peers (and we know how mean 14 year olds can be!) and spoke with poise and confidence.  Of course some were better than others, but every child stood up there and spoke with confidence.  

In September I told the kids: Theatre Skills Are Life Skills.  Few believe be but as the year progresses, they begin to understand.  Last week, when a kid would step to the front, hood up, face resting on their hand as they talked, I would tell them to imagine being at a professional internship this coming summer, would you do that in front of your boss?  Use the skills I know you have to share your hard work! 

130 presentations later (about 40 of them on the same person - I won't make that mistake again!) I was impressed and proud.  I was able to sit back and watch and learn from their work.  To provide helpful and actionable feedback as they continue to work to master skills and content as they prepare for 10th grade and beyond.

My favorite moment was on the last day of presentaions.  One of my ELLs got up and presented, Google Presentation riddled with spelling errors but it was ok.  The content was there and the presentation was sound.  I was impressed.  At the end of the day at staff PD we were asked to share a "high" for the week.  I shared about the presentation of this young man and how proud I was of him.  I got an email a couple hours later from his advisor titled: "You Made His Day" with the following: 

She went on to write: Gets even better!...
[Student],"Oh wow I didn't really want to do it because I get nervous when I have to speak in front of people." These small wins are the most awe-inspiring for me as an educator.

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