Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Who's Sorry Now?

(I'm totally breaking one of my rules. I'm starting to write a blog entry at the exact moment of my bedtime. Bad, bad, bad Amanda!)

Yesterday was a crappy day. Two boys came to freshman drama high (Meg - although I agree that the "holiday" part of 4/20 is debatable, the "national" part certainly isn't!), another one got mad and yelled at me. The show poster, despite sucking up a lot of my time, wasn't working. Rehearsal was really, really hard. I didn't feel prepared (because I wasn't. I had to come up with some kind of quasi-choreography for the danciest number that I didn't give to Rachel, and I just don't know enough about dance to do that well), the kids were angry and tired and stressed. One burst into tears over another kid's joke, one threw a tantrum when she had a suggestion that I didn't listen to right away, one kept up the rotten attitude he's always had, and one was working instead of coming to rehearsal. Which seems minor, but we have never, not once had the entire cast present for a rehearsal.

Oh, and the best part was the parent who stopped by to drop off some cardboard and hangers for us. She kept me after to tell me that some of the kids have been complaining to her about kid #3's bad attitude. So she took it upon herself to have a little chat with him at the end of rehearsal today. (Ominous music begins to play in my head at this point). Among other things, she told him
1) "My daughter's starring in this show and you're ruining it for her!"
2) "I know that Ms. W. is not as experienced as (former teacher). But she's young! She just doesn't know as much about theater or how to do it. Give her time to grow and learn, though, and in a few years, she'll be just as good."

Holy crap, people. Shall I tell you how extraordinarily wrong both of those comments are to make to a student? (Or how very, very mistaken she is about our comparative theater resumes?)

No, I shan't. You probably already know.

So I drove away from school yesterday in a horrible mood, cursing teenagers and the job that requires me to be around them. And then I remembered: it's the week before a show. Moreover, I remembered that while I might be aware of that lovely Hell Week phenomenon, the kids aren't.

Today, then, I pulled them up on stage and had them stand in a circle (big mistake I had been making, letting them check in from house seats). And I apologized. I apologized for not telling them that Hell Week is always like this. That of course the week before a show is stressful and hard to deal with. That there are some things that can help (getting a decent amount of sleep, eating healthy, getting schoolwork done instead of procrastinating, taking the opportunity for a break when it comes). And I also explained in a much clearer way why we check in. That Check In is the chance to let us know how you're doing and what we can do to help. That naming how you're feeling is a step towards controlling how you're feeling. And that we'll hear what you need to say.

And then we checked in.

Their answers didn't change much from what they normally say - some people were having a good day, some were tired and stressed. Nothing I didn't know already, really. But this time they listened to each other.

And then we rehearsed. And we kept listening to each other and we laughed and we got things done.

And I went home in a good mood today.

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