Friday, March 15, 2013

Joys and Despairs of Teaching After School

I'm finishing up another eight weeks of teaching in after-school programs. Talk about a love/hate relationship.

Here are the top 3 things I hate about it:
  1. The kids don't necessarily like theater. My class tends to be a curiosity or a lesser of several choices of evil classes.
  2. It's the afternoon and there's been no down-time for the kids. You try going to work and being around 600 people all day, and listening to an obnoxiously loud bell every hour and even more obnoxiously loud announcements blasted through the intercom, then at the end of the day having a 5 minute snack with 50 people ready to bust out of the monotony but wait! It's not really the end of the day; it's time for more work--it might be fun work but it still saps the strength. Once you're done with that, you get to go home and do more work given to you to do specifically at home. Those poor kids-they need naps. I need a nap by that time!
  3. For some kids there's not a lot of commitment to come. So it means I can never really teach anything beyond a few basics, before I'm back to simple improv games. There's so little continuity. Many of the kids finish up the class thinking that theater is nothing more than what I was able to teach them.
Here are the top 5 things I LOVE about it:

  1. The KIDS! They can actually be very fun--sometimes a little unfocused but energetic and fun.
  2. When I do get a core group of committed kids, we get to do things like perform. It's magic even when the kids haven't had a lot of theater experience.
  3. Watching a kid who is an outsider enjoy himself or herself. I love to see their faces when they're taking a curtain call...or maybe just when they did a great job in an improv game and they know they've done a great job. That's cool!
  4. LAUGHTER: Mine and theirs.
  5. When the parents are glad their children participated. 
Have you had experience teaching in after-school programs? What tricks do you use to help your students enjoy what you're teaching?

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