What do Drama Teachers Do In the Summer? Part Two.
The biggest misconception is that all teachers head to the pool and relax for two months during the summer. We’ve got more teachers with more stories, tips, tricks and tools. Get great insight into how to plan for the year ahead.
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Welcome to TFP – The Theatrefolk Podcast – the place to be for Drama teachers, Drama students, theatre educators everywhere. I’m Lindsay Price, resident playwright for Theatrefolk.
Hello, I hope you’re well. Thanks for listening.
This is Episode 99 and you can catch the links for this episode in the show notes at theatrefolk.com/episode99. That’s, like, one episode away from 100! (Because I can count; math is my forte.)
So, we’re back in this episode with more teachers talking about what they do during summer vacation – more stories, more tips, tricks, and tools. Get great insight into how to plan for the year ahead.
On this episode, we’ve got teachers from Florida, California, Virginia, Ontario, and Texas. Let’s get to it.
Lindsay: Hello, Kea!
Kea: Hello, Lindsay!
Lindsay: Awesome. I am so glad that are able to do this. I’m talking to Kea Fernandez. And where are you in the world?
Kea: I am in sunny Southwest Florida.
Lindsay: Oh, I love Florida – just not right now. I’m a big November, February…
Kea: Yeah. Well, it’s raining outside. It is the time where it’s raining on one side of the street and not on the other side.
Lindsay: Yes, I’ve been there in July and just sort of like those are pretty impressive storms.
Lindsay: So, how long have you been a teacher?
Kea: I am going on eleven years.
Lindsay: Awesome. And have you been a Drama teacher all this time?
Kea: All this time. All of this time, with mild breaks in-between, but yes.
Lindsay: And what drew you to be a Drama teacher?
Kea: Actually, when I was about five years old, everybody chose what they wanted to be when they grow up – ballerinas, astronauts, and things like that – and, finally, my mother got to me and said, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” and I said, “I don’t want to do anything. I just want to play all day.” And that’s what I do. And that’s what I do. I play all day and I’m very fortunate for that.
Lindsay: Oh, I love that.
Kea: I lived out my dream of being a five-year-old.
Lindsay: Yes, yes! And I love that you think of it that way. I think that’s awesome to think that, first of all, think of teaching as play and that, of course, in Drama, there’s just so much opportunity for that.
Lindsay: All right. So, we’re asking the question, what do you do during the summer vacation?
Kea: Well, the first thing I do is I recharge my battery. I definitely relax and I spend some much needed time with my family and friends and that’s my first priority out of the list.
Lindsay: And why? Because I totally agree that it’s so important to recharge. Why, specifically for you, the Drama teacher, do you want to make sure that that’s part of your plan?
Kea: Because, when I’m in the school year, I am going, going, going, going, going, and I am full force – 24/7 – and making sure that my kids get the best of me and all the things that I have to offer. So, that summer time, I take at least a full week that I disconnect, and it’s difficult. It is very difficult, but I completely disconnect – or at least I try really hard.
Lindsay: And, of course, everyone listening is going, “Um, summer vacation is eight weeks, maybe? And you only take a week off?”
Kea: Well, sometimes, I can’t even do that. I went to the store today to go shopping for my daughter and, lo and behold, I turn around and I was met with one of my students who I hadn’t seen in about, oh, two or three years? So, it doesn’t end. I’d like to say I’ll take at least a week off, but it never ends. So, there, my sister is looking at me, like, “Can we go?” and I was catching up with one of my students whom I absolutely adore so I was very pleasantly surprised. So, yeah, trying to disconnect, even when you see your students.
Lindsay: And then, what else do you do during the summer?
Kea: Well, I really like to sharpen my saw. I was very lucky to fall into an improv group at FGCU which is around here – shout-out to FGCU Improv Club! – and I really enjoyed just playing with them and getting a chance to be around students of a different age. They’re in college, I teach middle-school students, so it was great to actually see how different they are and just play around and have a great time. So, that’s one big thing that I like to do. I come from an improv background. I love improv. And so, I was tickled pink to be able to go and just rehearse with them – no strings attached, no putting together a show, nothing like that. Just go and perform. Have fun.
Lindsay: And how does that improve your skills as a teacher?
Kea: I love it because, not only does it recharge my professional battery but, then I get to bring some fun ideas into my classroom. And they’re in college so they have all these different ideas, and they’re not hindered by administrative things and, “Okay. We’ve got to take attendance.” They’re about a whole bunch of different things so I get a real good opportunity to just dive right into it and offer something completely different to my students that they haven’t seen yet and it really breaks up the monotony of the classroom. So, I’m not just, “Okay. Week one, lesson one. Week two, lesson two.” It really breaks things up and you can throw a curve ball in your lesson plan if you want to, if you find something that you love to do that you just have to because you know your students are going to adore it, do it.
Lindsay: Absolutely. Okay. I think that’s awesome. Recharge those batteries. Sharpen that saw. Prepare yourself to throwing curveballs. I think that’s lovely.
Kea: And keep it fun. If somebody wants to collaborate on something, try it out. You know, just have a blast and that’s kind of my take on life, period. Just have fun. I mean, life’s too short so do it up.
Lindsay: Awesome. Thank you so much, Kea. That was great!
Kea: Thank you, Lindsay! Have a great summer!
Lindsay: You too!
Lindsay: All right. I am now here with Claire Broome. Hello, Claire!
Claire: Hi! How are you?
Lindsay: Awesome. Thank you for joining me this evening.
Claire: Well, thanks for asking.
Lindsay: We are asking the big question, what do you do over summer vacation? I think it’s that big misconception that teachers are sitting around by the pool, right?
Claire: That’s true. I was just reading in the Ontario College of Teachers Magazine today that the month that most teachers actually do their lesson planning is August.
Lindsay: Isn’t that funny, eh? I just find that always that there’s that thing that people who aren’t teachers just harp on about how, “Oh, you know, teachers get all this time off.” I don’t know any teacher who takes all this time off.
Claire: No, I don’t either actually. So, I think it’s a huge misconception but, at the same time, I think people always think that the grass is greener on the other side. I think teaching is a fantastic profession and I suggest it to anyone. But, at the same time, there’s a lot of work that goes into it.
Lindsay: Oh, absolutely. How long have you been a teacher?
Claire: Actually, I’m heading into my fourteenth year.
Lindsay: Awesome. And what made you decide to focus on Drama and be a Drama teacher?
Claire: Well, actually, I started out in theatre school and I enjoyed it a lot. The only thing was I look really young for my age which I know sounds, “Oh, poor me,” but I was getting casted as sort of like nine and thirteen years old at the age of twenty-three.
Lindsay: Yeah, I can see why that would be sort of not great, right?
Claire: No, it wasn’t great. So, I ended up working at a camp called (unclear) Arts Camp and I fell in love with it and it was fantastic. So, I still remember working with a student named David and trying to give him some ideas for a monologue and he was fantastic and he picked up on the ideas and ran with it and I fell in love with the idea of teaching.
Lindsay: I think it’s a pretty amazing thing when you can provide some information for a student and they just run with it.
Claire: I think that’s the best part of my day. It’s funny because I wouldn’t say that what I do is playing all day, but it doesn’t feel like work the same way, and I think part of the reason is the interaction that Drama teachers have with students and you get to know them on a completely different level.
Lindsay: Absolutely. Okay. So, how do you spend your summer?
Claire: Well, believe it or not, the planning starts now in June and it actually started in January. What happens is, at the end of each semester, my colleague, Collin, and I, we ask our students for feedback on our courses.
So, it does two purposes. One is that it allows us to understand what students have gotten through the course because they have to use Drama terminology when they’re answering the questions. But, more importantly, we ask questions such as, “Which unit did you like the most? Which unit do you wish you had more time on? Is there anything that you wish that we had done in the course? Any other feedback?” and we take all of that feedback and we actually apply it year after year. So, our summers are actually spent either revamping or rewriting or reconnecting with all of the different courses or the units that we’re teaching.
Lindsay: Isn’t that great? Because then, first of all, you’re not teaching in a vacuum and you can get the direct feedback from your students about what is the most effective part of your courses.
Claire: Right. The reason why I love it so much is because, I mean, obviously, we don’t want to torture our kids. But, most importantly, we want to make sure that what we’re doing is a touch-point for them. So, it’s something that they can connect to and they have a reason for doing it. If we didn’t ask for that feedback, I don’t think our courses would be as effective.
Lindsay: Are you making any changes for next year?
Claire: Actually, we’re rewriting our whole grade nine course.
Lindsay: Oh, man! Why a total re-haul?
Claire: It’s partly because we feel that some of the techniques that we’re reviewing really can just be review. So, instead of spending a week on tableau, for example, we might end up only working on it for maybe one or two days, but then, using the staging that you learn from tableau more effectively in our physical theatre unit.
Also, we’re finding that we want to be able to use more technology in our course as well and we want to find different ways of incorporating, for example, how do you use iPads or having sort of video documentaries of your creative process or things like that.
Lindsay: That’s awesome!
Lindsay: What about your other classes? Do you find that they’re more going to stay the same? Just maybe some tweaks?
Claire: There’s going to be some tweaks.
So, for example, in our grade ten course, we focus on a mini-play unit. We also teach sketch comedy. And then, on top of that, we also do this concept, we call it “paranormal state” – believe it or not – where kids have to take a ghost story and then they have to use, for example, a dramatic pause to be able to act it out on stage. So, how do you tell a convincing horror story using strong staging techniques and dramatic pause? So, we’re going to be taking a look at the format of that unit.
The grade eleven course is actually in really good shape. It’s almost too full which is kind of scary. But we’ve just gotten it, I think, to a really good shape.
And then, in our grade twelve course, the only thing that I’m really working on is learning more about collective creation. So, we actually do a collective creation as sort of one of the big projects in grade twelve where students actually write their own collective creation. And, because of that, I want to learn more about writing. So, one of the things that I love about the summer is that you actually have time to do some of the exploration that you don’t have during the school year.
Lindsay: You can actually focus on your professional development instead of just getting it in piecemeal during the year, right?
Claire: That’s true.
One of the other things that I do – and it’s a plug for you guys – is actually spend a lot of time on the Theatrefolk website. I find a lot of the things that you have on there is ridiculously helpful.
So, for example, in grade nine, I was looking at your monologue project where you have multiple students saying the same monologue together as a choral drama piece and we’re actually going to be building our choral drama unit sort of on that piece. So, I’m actually going to be looking for monologues on your website this summer.
Lindsay: Awesome! I love that! I will take the mantle of being ridiculously helpful. I think that’s fantastic!
That’s great, Claire! I really think that this whole notion of getting feedback from your students to help your curriculum and then you have sort of a pathway in your summer when you’re thinking about how you’re going to revamp things. I just think that’s a wonderful piece of advice for particularly any new teachers out there who maybe aren’t quite sure how to spend that summer time.
Claire: That’s great. I think also it just really helps clarify for you what the students are getting out of your course. And, also, if they really felt that they needed more time on something, that you should validate that because it’s their creative process and they’re probably the best judges of it.
Lindsay: Fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing!
Claire: Okay! Thank you!
Lindsay: Okay. And right now I am talking to Jena Aspden. Hello, Jena!
Jena: Hello! How are you?
Lindsay: I’m great! So, tell everyone where in the world you are.
Jena: I am currently sitting in my house in Wylie, Texas. But I teach in Plano, Texas.
Lindsay: And is that north, south, east, or west Texas?
Jena: That is in the metroplex of DFW.
Lindsay: Perfect. I got that. I know exactly where that is. Been there.
And you were just saying you are just coming up to the end of your school year.
Jena: Yes, tomorrow is the last day with students.
Lindsay: Yeah, that sounds like that’s a good thing.
Jena: Although I am teaching a summer camp this summer – actually, two different summer camps – and that starts next Friday so it’s like I see them in a week anyway so it’s really not like I’m getting rid of them.
Lindsay: Well, it’s the perfect segue into we’re asking teachers what do they do on summer vacation. And so, you go straight from teaching all year to working in a summer camp. How come?
Jena: Because, for me, I continue to learn and, the more I learn, the more I can teach my kids. At Plano ISD, this past summer was the first summer that they had actually provided a camp for the middle schools, but they had been doing one for the high schools. And so, this summer, I’m actually going to be working both the high school and a middle school camp, and they bring in directors that are not part of PISD to actually be the directors of our shows. And then, those of us who are PISD employees can then be assistant directors and, you know, it’s a one-week and then, by the end of the week, we’ll put on a one-act play and, you know, we get to see everybody’s different directing style and the way they interact with the kids and different ways of cutting a show and all of that fun stuff. And it’s like I just try to learn as much as I can from everybody so I can take that to my own students whenever we hit a one-act mode which will be in the Spring.
Lindsay: And what a great experience for you to, you know, sometimes it’s not a bad thing to not be in charge, isn’t it?
Jena: Oh, my gosh. It’s so nice not to be in charge. It’s like, “I don’t have to make that decision today. Ha-ha! I’m the assistant. Why don’t you go talk to them?”
And, also, for me, what I find really fun and interesting is it’s Plano. Plano, we’ve got thirteen middle schools; five high schools which is nine, ten; and then three senior highs which is eleven, twelve.
Lindsay: Holy cow.
Jena: And so, yeah, so there’s like, Plano East, Plano Central, and then Plano West. And, when we come together at camp, it’s just Plano ISD and so Eastside kids are working with Westside kids working with Central kids and it’s just a true theatre family. And so, I get to work with kids from all over the district. And then, during the school year, when I go and see their shows, they’re like, “Miss Jena!” and I’m like, “Hey, I had you during summer camp because you used my first name,” and they’re like, “Miss Aspden!” I’m like, “You’re my actual kid.” So, it’s just fun because then I end up with students literally all over the district.
Lindsay: Does that change things a little bit when you go into competition? When you actually have some connection with students from other places?
Jena: I think so, yes. This past summer was the first summer that I had worked camp and I did the high school camp. And then, I’m in the transition period where I worked at one middle school for ten years which was a Westside school. And then, my current school, I’ve been at for four years now and it’s Eastside so I have students – two of the senior highs in our city. And, as I would go to one senior high, I would see kids that I had from camp who worked together during the summer. And so, they’re friends regardless of what their school rivals are.
And so, one, they come to support their friends. But, two, they do kind of come to check out the competition and see where they are compared to fully speaking to the other schools. But, ultimately, they’re there to support their friends who are on stage which is, you know, a beautiful thing.
Lindsay: Well, it gets to that whole notion of the thing that we try to teach students about community and working together and it’s in practice, isn’t it? When you bring everyone together from all these different places and say, “Okay, now we’re a family.”
Jena: Yeah. My middle school and there’s one other middle school, we feed into the same high school and, two years ago, when we were competing for one-act because lately middle schools have been on a rotation for one-act, and we hired a person to come in and critique both of our shows. And so, it’s like one school, they went first, and then we watched them perform and watched their critique. And then, we had dinner. And then, we performed so they watched us and, you know, saw our critique. And this was, like, three weeks before actual competition. And then, at the competition, we could see each other’s growth, you know, from three weeks prior to the actual competition. Plus, they’re like, “Hey! We were together at your school for that dinner thing and we’re going to be with each other next year at high school!” So, it’s already building that high school community theatre, you know, family before they even get to that ninth-grade level. And so, our high school director is loving the fact that we middle school people are already hanging out together and bonding those kids because, you know, it goes from competition to rival schools to, ‘Oh, now we’re together and we’re one.”
Lindsay: I think that’s great. I love that! What do you think middle school teachers should be doing on their summer break?
Jena: Reading scripts which is, like, “Hi, I’m a mom of two,” and sometimes that’s not always the best thing, you know? “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” but I try to get at least one script read a week – if not one every two weeks – just so I can keep myself fresh on what’s out there and, “What do we want to do next year?” or, “Oh, maybe the year after that?” or maybe the year after that. Like, your script, Tick Talk, I had read, I think, three years ago or four years ago, and it has just been sitting on my shelf forever. And then, last year, when we competed, I’m like, “Finally! I have the cast that fits that show.” So, you know, just continue to read stuff because you never know if you can cut things down for a duet scene. You know, for me, I teach Speech as well so I’m in charge of speech competitions so I’m like, “Oh, I could take that for a duet scene,” or, “Oh, that would be great, you know, di-hi or whatever.” So, you know, read, read, read.
And then, also, the other thing I would say is be involved in whatever state theatre organization, educational organization you have, like, for TETA, we have a summer camp just for teachers.
Lindsay: And I’ll just say that TETA is the Texas Educational Theatre Association.
Jena: Thank you. I should have said that. But, like, when I first became a teacher, my major was English. I had never done speech and theatre or anything but I had taken the classes at college, took a test, boom! I am certified to teach! You know, theoretically.
And so, when I walked into my theatre classroom which is what I hired to teach, I was going, “Okay. I have never done this.” Even in high school, I was not a theatre person. I was a band person. But I loved all of my classes and I totally fit in with everybody so, going to summer camp the TETA holds – Theatrefest, I think, is what it’s called for the summer or something, whatever it is. But I just, you know, was a sponge and took those lessons that I learned there, tweaked them for myself, and what worked in my classroom. And so, again, just learn as much as you can. Get ideas and steal things, borrow things, tweak things. Just like I said, be a sponge.
Lindsay: It’s all about just getting better, isn’t it?
Jena: Yes, always. I call it being a lifelong learner.
Lindsay: I think that’s an awesome thing to be and an awesome thing to aspire to, too.
Thank you so much! Jena, this was just great. I really appreciate you taking the time.
Lindsay: Okay! I am so happy to now be talking to Christa JonesJena. Hello, Christa!
Christa: Hello, Lindsay!
Lindsay: Thank you so much for doing this.
Christa: Thanks for having me.
Lindsay: And tell everybody where you are in the world?
Christa: I am in Norfolk, Virginia, United States, and I teach in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Lindsay: Awesome. And how long have you been a teacher?
Christa: My first round was twelve years and I took a few years off and this is my first year back full-time.
Lindsay: And how is that?
Christa: It has been great! I’ve had really great perspective coming back in after a hiatus because I got burnt out so it’s been good.
Lindsay: Yeah. Do you feel that, when you made the choice to come back, it must have been really rewarding to go, “Okay. this is the place I was supposed to be”?
Christa: Yes, it was as sure as I knew it was time for me to take a break. I was that sure, when I came back, that this is what I should be doing.
Lindsay: And I think this segues really nicely into what teachers are asking, the question: what do teachers do during their summer vacation and, time and time again, the Drama teachers I talk to, they are so gung-ho and like a freight train during the year.
Lindsay: And that, when summer hits, you’ve got to be careful, right?
Christ: Yeah. I’ve always looked at the summer as an extended weekend. You know, Friday is the June, Saturday is the July, and Sunday is the August.
Lindsay: I love that.
Christa: Yeah, because Friday, you work, but then, Friday night, you’re free so part of June, you work, and then part of June, you’re free. And Saturday is big in play and then Sunday you start getting your head wrapped around going back to work so it’s just an extended weekend really.
Lindsay: It’s a good way of looking at it. And, also, it’s an organized way of looking at it so that you’re not, you know, getting to that week before school and sort of panicking.
Christa: Freaking out, yeah.
Lindsay: Yeah, about what needs to be happen and the preparation for the year. So, what kinds of things do you do during the summer?
Christa: It depends on the summers. Early on, I did nothing and I quite honestly think that was a problem. I sort of thought of the summer as “no more work” instead of a break to do something different so it seemed harder to go back to work in the beginning, but now I’m either writing curriculum or I’m in a play, visit with family. I think it’s really important to do something completely non-school-related so you feel that you are actually getting a break, especially in July on that Saturday where you can just take that month to play.
Lindsay: Do you think it’s important for Drama teachers to sort of step off and be on the other side of the line as it were? And to act or do set design or stage manage? Or just do something that’s the active part of being in theatre?
Christa: I do. I think it brings a heightened sense of relevancy to your classroom. I think, the moment I start saying, “I was in a play once. I think it’s time for me to do a play again,” and, you know, if I were a designer, it would be the same thing, “I designed twenty years ago.” It just kind of strengthens the validity to what you’re teaching your kids. However, not every teacher is or was a practicing artist before they became teachers. And, if they’re not, I think the way that you can approach it then is to flip it and become a student in the summer. Take a class in design. Take an acting class just to keep yourself fresh.
Lindsay: Absolutely. I think that that’s what it all comes down to so that, when you’re going back year after year, well, you don’t get that burnout.
Lindsay: Awesome. Thank you so much! This has been such a great experience and it’s really been wonderful talking to teachers and seeing what they do, and also sharing it with other teachers and particularly those first-timers who, I’m sure there’s a lot of them out there who are like, “It’s summertime! Woohoo!”
Lindsay: I think that changes pretty quickly.
Lindsay: Thank you so much!
Christa: Thank you!
Lindsay: Hello, Valerie!
Valerie: Hi there!
Lindsay: Hi! How are you?
Valerie: I’m doing great.
Lindsay: Awesome! So, I am here with Valerie O’Riordan. And, Valerie, tell everybody where you are.
Valerie: I am in San Francisco at Archbishop Riordan High School.
Lindsay: Awesome! So, let’s just get right into it. When school is over, when you are done school, what are some of the things that you do as a teacher over summer vacation?
Valerie: I get back to my pleasure reading and I do some work on my lessons because I’m updating a class. I’m kind of creating a new class this summer so I’m doing work on that.
Lindsay: Yeah, you said that you were actually, like, creating a new curriculum for this playwriting class?
Valerie: Yeah, basically, two classes that I used to teach are now combining into one. So, I’m going to be teaching ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth graders, and since I’ve been teaching the same curriculum for so many years, I wanted to shake it up a little bit for me and my students so I’m going to have a whole playwriting and writing element that I’ve never done before.
Lindsay: So, how does that work for you when you are planning a new curriculum? What are some of the things that you do?
Valerie: One of the great things, I was just in Tampa last week for my son’s baseball tournament and the Tampa weather had us indoors a little bit and I took with me the April issue of Educational Leadership Magazine and almost every single article was something that I annotated like crazy because it was all about writing in the core curriculum. So, there were all sorts of exercises and thoughts. I’m starting a blog with my class next year. I’ve never done that before. And I’m going to be combining that with your Monologue Everything and the kickstart that I got last, well, this past year, I guess.
So, it’s just sort of looking at what I used to do and the exercises that, for me, are a little tired now and looking at where my students are at and what I think they could benefit from. The writing element isn’t very strong in the class that I teach so I wanted to give them the possibility, the opportunity to grow and to know that they have permission to make mistakes when they write without worrying about an assessment.
Lindsay: Yeah, that’s the thing particularly with creative writing, you know? It’s not a 2+2=4. They need to have that ability to make mistakes! So, what are some of the things that you do to allow students that freedom?
Valerie: Well, in the past, they always had a journal that we did three to five times a week and I’d tuck it away after they’re out of my class and I give it back to them on graduation day. So, it’s really a neat thing because they totally forgot that they did it half the time.
But I used to do what I call a creative research project with my freshman class and I’m going into my fourteenth year and, about six years ago, the writing just became so bad on the two- to four-page essay that they wrote that I just took it out because they were going to be filled with too many red marks, you know?
So, I’m taking that now and, honestly, I don’t actually know what I’m doing yet.
Lindsay: Ah! Is that scary?
Valerie: No, it’s really fun.
Lindsay: Hah! Good!
Valerie: Because there’s just so many resources out there that right now I’m reading and writing a lot of notes and I know that, by the time the two months of summer goes by, I’m going to have something. And, if I don’t, they’re going to find out on the first day of class that they’re my guinea pigs and we’ll have a fun time going from there.
Lindsay: When you have so many resources to get through in the summer, how do you avoid being overwhelmed by it all?
Valerie: Well, this past year, all of those wonderful little emails that you would send with this kind of exercise and these kind of writing prompts, I have a big box in my office that’s called Curriculum and I would print those out and I would just put them in that box.
So, in the next month, I’m going to get that box out. I’m going to get a few different magazines that I’ve annotated and it’s going to be, “I think my students would be able to do this. This one is going to be down the road.” I’m just going to, I think, really pick and choose and I just love the idea of doing that.
And the students really tend to gravitate toward, when they think that their teacher doesn’t really know what they’re doing, you know, I have a bigger master plan but I am going to tell them, “This is the first time I’m doing this and we’re going to learn it together.” So, that’s what I do; I kind of just pick and choose different exercises that I think are going to speak to them.
Lindsay: Yeah, and I mean, that’s not a bad thing to do – to let your students know that you’re all in the same boat, learning together.
Lindsay: You know, because why not shake things up for yourself too as a teacher?
Valerie: Exactly, and they do love that. They love it when you make a mistake – either, you know, a verbal typo or something on a handout or whatever. But they really tend to like the fact that I tell them, you know, in the bigger scheme of things, I know what I’m doing. But, in the smaller minute-to-minute, lesson-by-lesson, sometimes I’m like, “You know, I’ve never done this before so let’s see and you’re going to teach me. I’m not just the only teacher in this classroom. You guys are going to teach me whether it’s successful or not.”
Lindsay: And what a great way to solidify something for a student when they become the teacher.
Valerie: Right, exactly. It empowers them.
Lindsay: And then, the other thing that you told me about is that lifelong learning is really important to you.
Lindsay: And where are you going next year?
Valerie: Next summer, I’m going to Athens to study for three weeks with colleagues that I haven’t met yet, going to Epidaurus and all of the places that I’ve been teaching for years and years and years. I’m going to be able to walk on that ground and it’s actually a playwriting. I had the choice of choosing between the playwriting and the acting. And, when I went to London a few years ago, I did the acting part, but I’ve got to tell you, I was so out of practice of learning lines that it didn’t get in my way but, boy, was it a nerve-racking type of thing so I decided to go the playwriting route this time so I won’t have to worry about learning lines.
Lindsay: I can’t imagine and what a great thing, particularly if you’ve been teaching Greek theatre and all the basics of where we all come from with Drama and then actually go and stand in those amphitheatres.
Valerie: I’m so excited. And I’m raising funds through GoFundMe and one of the moms – one of my Drama moms – suggested that I do that and I’m already halfway to my goal.
Lindsay: Oh, my god, that’s great!
Valerie: I know. It’s amazing.
Lindsay: So, because of this, this is very important. Why is it important? Why should teachers never stop learning?
Valerie: Well, I don’t know. Part of it, for me, I always loved school and so it’s no surprise that I ended up being a teacher. But I think it’s important to tell my students, you know, to let my students know that I like to continue to learn and that what I’m teaching them comes straight from the source and that I’ve been there and I’ve touched it and that they can go out into their world after they graduate and create their own future.
Lindsay: What a great thing to give them. I love that!
Thank you so much, Valerie! That’s wonderful. I love to hear about what teachers are doing and I’m really glad that you were able to share this with us.
Valerie: All right. Thanks so much, Lindsay!
Lindsay: Awesome. Thanks!
Valerie: Take care.
Thank you all, teachers! Thank you so much! Kea Fernandez,
Finally, where, oh, where can you find this wonderful podcast?
We post new episodes every Wednesday at theatrefolk.com and on our Facebook page and Twitter. You can find us on YouTube.com/Theatrefolk. You can find us on the Stitcher app and you can subscribe to TFP on iTunes. All you have to do is search for the word “Theatrefolk.”
And that’s where we’re going to end. Take care, my friends. Take care.
Music credit: ”Ave” by Alex (feat. Morusque) is licensed under a Creative Commons license.