I returned to Hopewell School for an end-of-the-year assembly for about 350 first, second and third graders and their teachers. I’ve known several of the teachers going back to Lower Lehigh ES that was “consolidated” a couple of years back. They’re the ones who put together my visit last year. I set up in the gym and started off with a few shenanigans – Finger in the Air, Tutti Tah, The Cat Came Back, etc. and the kids and teachers were a real treat, everyone laughing, singing and dancing. And, of course, we did Baby Shark.
I felt comfortable enough to expand on something I’ve been doing at the workshop level. Cognizant of the power and necessity of reflection instilled in my Teaching Artist training, I decided to ask one side of teachers what they thought was fun about the assembly. The responses were strikingly refreshing so I decided to go around the whole gym gathering observations from the teachers: the dancing, the smiles, rhyming exercises, kids having fun, seeing the other teachers enjoying themselves and on and on and on.
I had the chance to process this process with my friend Mark later on in the afternoon. Several things became apparent. The teachers and I had some nice conversations as I replied to some of their comments. I got to agree with them and say what I liked, as well. And the students got to witness their teachers talk about the show with me, and they got to hear adults converse about what had happened. Often, when I ask the kids the same thing, they are not familiar with this reflective process and, simply, are not used to having to think or respond like this. Today, we got to model intelligent and meaningful conversations. I’m not sure if these kids ever have the chance to listen in like this.
After this interaction, I wrapped it up with All Around the Kitchen with a full gym of teachers and kids showing off their favorite dances and just letting the good times roll. It was a perfect way to bring the whole show to an end. I somehow can put together a rewarding educational and fun hour for a whole school community. I’m getting good at this. I wish I could do it more often.