Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Good Signs

Today, the first day of new classes, went well!  The kids are excited, I'm excited, and although my classes are not as obviously good groups of kids as last semesters, I think they will turn out well.

I have a lot of new students in Intro to Drama (last term's class were almost entirely comprised of former speech kids from the year before) who are very talkative and very energetic.  I had to do a lot of redirection and reminders and reprimands, but it's the good kind of energy that, if I can harness and channel it in the right direction, will make for some fun plays (which, not coincidentally, is identical to the kind of energy that drives other teachers up the wall).

As much as I've been looking forward to teaching it again, I was concerned about Humanities.  At first, I was worried because of how many of my drama kids signed up for the class.  I didn't want them to be disappointed or upset because it's not like drama.  I warned them.  I told them it was more academic-like, more "like a real class."  Even forewarned, they groaned a bit when they walked into my room and discovered desks, then groaned again when I said the desks were here to stay.

They got into it, though.  I went over the scope of the course, and they were excited about what we were going to study.  We went through a slideshow of a variety of art pieces and debated over which ones were actually "Art," then they discussed possible ways to define art.  My confidence grew!

And then the kids I didn't know, the group of boys sitting the furthest away from me, started to lose interest, to chat.  It's the last class of the day, the first day back, etc.  I get it - it's a hard time for them to stay focused for 90 minutes straight.  I redirected them away from their whispered conversation about snowboarding, but I was worried about how they would handle in the more artsy parts of the class, the stuff that is definitely not cool to your average teenage boy, the stigmas that makes most of the jocks afraid to sign up for drama class.*  I braced myself for a lot times to come of having to justify the awesomeness of art.

Then, as part of that first-day project/discussion, I showed them a clip of Diana Damrau singing the Queen of the Night aria.

"Damn!" one of the boys in the back exclaimed under his breath when she hit those F6s.  All three of them were enraptured, staring slack-jawed at her.

That's when I knew this was going to be great class.

* The best comment of my year so far came from a senior basketball-playing boy who took Speech last term when his female friend twisted his arm.  He confided in me towards the end of the class that it was really fun, that he learned a lot, that it was one of the best classes he's taken.  He then told me in a concerned-citizen kind-of-way that "your classes have a reputation around the jocks at this school of being..." he paused, searching for the right polite word. "...weird."

I nodded. "I'm okay with that," I confided back to him.

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