Monday, October 12, 2009

A Man's Gotta Do

Dilemma #1

My philosophy of teaching theater has been to
1) Help my students create beauty
2) Teach collaboration
3) Celebrate the arts and
4) Push my students to discover their own strengths and talents

To succeed at coaching speech, I need to
1) Make winning a priority
2) Hand-pick pieces for my students
3) Tell them outright when the pieces they pick are wrong for them
4) Pick the pieces that will win, which are typically not the ones that make good theater, in my book.

For example, one of my students had an excellent version of "Harrison Bergerard" for the meet Saturday. The pieces that won were a) a piece about a girl committing suicide by slicing up her arms, b) a piece about a girl getting an abortion, and c) a piece about the Holocaust.

I spent some time Saturday night when I got home from the meet digging through my files, looking for depressing stuff. What I wanted, sadly, was the screenplay for this:

I can be competitive. I know how to do this, and I know what it'll take. I just have to box up my ideals and tuck them out of sight.

Dilemma #2

My English students need to write more to improve. And they need good feedback on their papers.

I barely have time to do my laundry, and I haven't done dishes in a week. I'm so far behind in grading that I'm considering taking a day off this week to catch up on grading papers. I don't want to assign any more papers, at least not until I catch up, but I'm feeling like a bad English teacher.

Dilemma #3

My speech team didn't do as well at the meet this weekend. 19 awards, 2 Best of Events. I despondently reported this to my friend Madam Senora this morning.

"But that's great!" she exclaimed.

"Well, it's not as good as it should be," I responded.

"What? It's not like they're state champions or something."

I gave her a look.

"They're state champions?"

"For several years now."

"Oh, honey," she said, patting my arm. "I'm so sorry."

Exactly. So, yeah, some of them did fine, but the rest need to get their butts into gear. I talked with Assistant Coach Paula on the way home, and I listened to one of my speechers today talk about her concerns - "Everything's falling apart, including speech. And speech is really, really important to me." She said the kids just want to give up on the team. It's not going to be how it used to be, so why bother.

Which, honestly, is not unexpected. It is also totally unfair. Especially when I hear about a meet LAST YEAR where they only got one BOE.

So, I need to kick their butts a little, remind them of what they can be, and give them some incentive to keep working.

The incentive they need, though, is more meets. So I pulled up the schedule today, sent some emails to coaches, and talked with my team captains about it. They perked up throughout the conversation. It's what the team needs to get through the year, I think.


The theater will suffer. Romeo and Juliet is already hanging on by a thread. My English class will probably suffer (see Dilemma #2).

I think I can do it. I can push myself to keep working, to run on fumes. But I'm afraid I'll burn out. Soon. Moreover, I already feel so out of balance - the last two weeks have been entirely about school, mostly speech. I'm working all of the time, I'm exhausted when I'm not working, and I spend my one day off in meetings at church all day. Which doesn't make me a very good RS President, either.

I want to find balance in my life - to have time to sleep, to be a good teacher in all of my subject areas, to eat healthier and exercise, to socialize and work on that major weakness of mine. I'm an introverted homebody by nature. I've been trying to fix it - trying to be good about meeting new people and being outgoing and such. But this job is eliminating all hope of that.

I want to keep this job. I know it'll get easier after the first year. But I don't know if I can keep doing this.

I feel guilty stopping my grading to write this blog entry. But I needed to process these thoughts a little to deal with them. And now I've written it, so it's back to grading for me.


  1. Oh girl, hang in there! Hey, you could scan some of those papers and email them my way to grade. Seriously :-)

  2. I have the perfect solution...come visit your long lost buddy in Seattle for the weekend! I am sorry you are going through stress but keep in mind that this is all still new and it will slow down with time and experience. A few of the penguins may have to get bumped from the iceberg. Just make sure they are not the ones that bring you joy! Good luck!