Why Not Just Let Them Do It?
On the morning of a performance I’m usually at school early: taping out the stage space or the audience space with my trustee blue painters tape, thinking through how we’re going to transition from one large grade-level-group-dance to another, and where classes should go and sit as soon as they arrive at the auditorium. Rest assured AM Care / Beacon / YMCA students are present, interested, and above all else they WANT. TO. HELP!
Generally speaking, I do all of this stuff by myself. I’m usually pressed for time and find it easier to just do it alone, rather than explaining how to do it and then having to re-do it afterward (clearly the artist / perfectionist / control freak in me). But really, non of that makes any sense. It’s their assembly. It’s their performance. School is supposed to be all about them and their experiences, right?
So on Friday, instead of madly scrambling and trying to do it all myself, I just assigned jobs. Luckily I had about 7 rolls of painters tape with me, there were about 7 kids who wanted to help, and we had about 7 signs to tape down on the ground. After handing out the tape and giving some bare-bones instructions, I watched them carefully tape down the signs.
It was so cool. What generally is a somewhat chaotic scene in the mornings, turned into a quiet and focused one, at least for the students who were involved in the task. And I could tell that they were invested, and that they felt important. Because they were helping with something that mattered, something that was meaningful and relevant to them and their day.
It’s funny but when I graduated from my credential program, I had no intention of becoming a classroom teacher, and I still don’t, really. But when I was watching them put down the tape on Friday, there was a little part of me that wondered what it would be like to work with 25 kids a year instead of 2000? And really get to know them as individuals.
A few minutes later a 2nd grader came up to me proudly pointing to the sign you see pictured above and said “All finished! Is there anything else I can help you with?” I went over and looked at the sign, suppressing my gut-inclination to gently peel off the multiple layers of tape and re-do it in perfect symmetry. “Fantastic! Thank you so much!” I said “And yes. Can you please tape down another sign?”