I sometimes get these early-in-the-school-year gigs, as rare as they are, and they are wonderful opportunities to kick off the school with some good energy. But I like to look on them as efforts to build community by getting everyone, teachers included, to shine as individuals, as classes, as boys/girls and recognize the group as a whole.

I Like Peanut Butter gets every one singing and moving, Tutti Tah loosens everyone one up (I often point out teachers who watch but don’t participate – which they soon pitch in) and introduce the Super Star, one of my favorite techniques to get the kids to express joy and satisfaction of participating.

I’ve been doing The Cat Came Back as a sing-along but have been getting each class to stand up and do the chorus ala cat, Frozen, rap, opera, etc. and having the rest of the school applaud each effort. It’s a good way to establish class identity in a warm and supportive way. The teachers did the opera chorus really well.

Giants featured two of the male teachers on Thunder Tube, one being the gym teacher. They did well and it was cool to feature them in a goofy spotlight. The kids loved it.

I finished with All Around the Kitchen with three sets of three kids coming up on stage to demonstrate their dance moves and we finished with three teachers doing the same. The support from the school for their friends on stage was great, gave the individuals spot lights and the entire gym was filled with dancing, singing kids and teachers. Chaos, yes, but delightfully controlled pandemonium.

I was proud that I could guide this school community in celebration of itself through folk music and dance, and I was able to flex my Teaching Artist skills with 250 folks on a Thursday afternoon.