This blog is dedicated to my friend, my mentor, and the best teacher I have ever had. Without him, I would not have embarked on this amazing journey. Split, this blog is for you!
Ponderosa Misty Icon, aka "Split," is a handsome gray Welsh pony who came to me via a phone call "out of the blue" (actually Peterborough, Ontario). Our first few months together were rocky to say the least, which made me question my ability as a horse owner, as a horsewoman, and as a rider. Forty years of horse ownership had not prepared me for this little gray pony!
But we muddled through and because of Split, I have begun a journey that is both spiritual and enlightening. I hope something here resonates with you and that you'll check back now and then.
We leave you with one of our favorite quotes: "The best whisper is a click!"

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Play's The Thing

For those of you who don't know, I'm the Drama Club director for a local elementary school. This year's production is "Annie, Jr." I swore I'd rather suck an egg than do that play again, yet here I am......for about the 6th time! LOL Some of us are just gluttons for punishment.
My predecessor was known for her sharp tongue, her never-ending criticism of the students, her yelling and screaming at both children and adults (yup, she yelled at me many times over the years) and her famous, "UGH! I can't take this anymore!" while she turned and left the auditorium. She put on great plays and the kids learned to sing and dance (they reminded me of animals on "auto pilot" sometimes, tho), but by the time the curtain went up, nerves were frayed, kids were in tears, and we teachers who were the "co-directors" were threatening to never, ever do this again!
The director finally retired the year after I did and the teachers asked me to take over Drama Club. What a great honor! I agreed but said that I was no "she who must be obeyed" and that it wasn't going to be a "one woman" show.....I would need EVERYONE'S help and that I couldn't guarantee that my shows would be as "spectacular" as hers. No matter, they were happy to have me back as part of their team.
This is my 3rd play as Drama Club director and I must say that all of the clicker trainers I've met and worked with along the way have added to my understanding, patience, and willingness to let the kids have fun and work things out for themselves. As a director, I feel that my job is to guide everyone along, to make suggestions, to teach acting skills, and to try to instill a sense of confidence and self-worth in each child, whether they're the star or a member of the chorus. I got to thinking the other day how much like clicking it has become for me. I don't have a clicker when I direct but I do have a voice and I find myself shouting out, "Yes! Great use of body language!" "Wonderful! Keep going!" "That's it! You got it!" all the time. I find that the kids now listen for this and they'll smile at me and give me a little bit more. They've all become used to me tossing out bits of encouragement in the middle of a scene and will simply continue on - while smiling and accepting the compliment.
Sometimes, a few kids will come to me and tell me that they got together outside of school and worked on a dance routine for themselves and can they use it in the play? As the children become more and more confident, they begin to offer more and more of their own creativity............They "offer behaviors!" It's so much fun!
I'm finding that the mind-set behind clicking and rewarding positive behavior is spilling over into all facets of my life. It's definitely helped to define me as a director.....instead of finding and criticizing all the negative things during rehearsal, I now automatically look for and verbally reward the good things! It's taken the pressure off the kids and let them know that it's OK to make a mistake; it's OK to offer an opinion about their lines or their scene; it's OK to laugh and have fun!!! Sound familiar????????
Thank you, all my clicker/CAT mentors! I've learned SO MUCH from you and I look forward to continuing to learn from everyone who crosses my path during this fabulous journey!!!

The theater is so endlessly fascinating because it's so accidental. It's so much like life.
Arthur Miller

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post. Sounds like you have a great time directing and that the kids also have a lot of fun.

    Activities like that should be fun. It amazes me, though, the number of coaches, directors, club leaders, scout leaders, etc., who put too much pressure on kids and make activities un-fun.