Monday, December 14, 2009

Hard News: Interview, Part III

I was recently interviewed by Vibrant Nation about The Shakespeare Club. These were the last two questions:

3. What do you find most difficult about your work, and how do you overcome it?

The most difficult aspect of my work is always managing classroom chaos. It's a power struggle that teachers are familiar with and I've had to learn as I go. It's my job to control the room and it's the kid's job to wrestle that control away from me. I learn and listen to the professionals, the teachers, and bit by bit get better at it...on some days.

The teachers have taught me some great tricks. Last year I learned the counting trick. Just start counting backwards: 10, 9, 8... If you run out of time, start at 5. I don't know why, but it works - the kids settle down. I also learned that auditions are important. To be committed, the kids need to feel that they earned their place in the club. And I need to set boundaries and enforce them. I've had to fire some students from Shakespeare Club. It's better for the group and for the child - everyone learns something from it.

One student that I kicked out of Shakespeare Club came back later - not to act, because he had given up that privilege - but to handle the lighting board. He turned his behavior around 180 degrees. At the end of the year, he wrote in his journal, "Thank you for giving me another chance." This year, his little brother wants to run lights. It's becoming a family tradition!

4. What can others do to support your cause?

I started my blog Teaching Will as a way to get the stories of these kids out into the world. They're learning to scan iambic verse. They're performing. They're studying character, and writing in their journals. And you can see the results in their regular school work.

I would love to see Shakespeare clubs pop up all over the country but, in lieu of that dream, I hope people read these stories and get inspired to do something in a public school. One-on-one reading with some little kid is hugely gratifying and can make a gigantic difference in a child's future.

Support my cause by starting your own.

I liked it because of the characters and I had fun doing the play. It was a little funny because the actors where funny and had a lot of ideas. I really liked it because I was narrator 2, and I wanted to be that. I want to join next year but I am going to be in middle school. I hope I was good in the play of Hamlet.
—Corrina, 5th grade (Year Two)

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