I have been doing a lot of theater work in my classes for the past three years. It always comes down to money with how much support we will get, how many visits by our artists…
It is the way it is.
But today, I saw this on a flier for an immigrant resource fair next Wednesday at NYC Public Library: After a training on how to protect the immigrant community from fraud, there will be a performance by the People’s Theatre Project.
I get these emails because I subscribe to the listservs from the TESOL affiliates and state ESL listservs nearest us here in Vermont. I’m a member of Massachusetts TESOL (MATSOL) because I often present there, and it’s cheaper to be a member. I get notifications from our NNETESOL sister states–Maine and New Hampshire–occasionally getting an email reminding me of the cool things they do. And I get NYS TESOL’s notifications.
I have always wanted to go to their conference, but they often have theirs on the same weekend NNETESOL stages its conference. And as a board member, I can hardly make the choice not to go to my own conference.
Some states do such cool things.
Maine for a while was advertising distance learning for ELL teachers in its state. It’s necessary because of the distance northernmost teachers have to travel to get to some kind of professional development.
NH has regional meetings to support their teachers; not sure if these are directed from the state or just a few very involved teacher leaders. I just got a notification from New Hampshire that they are looking for a full time teacher for next school year in Londonderry, just in case you need to know that.
Vermont is a small state; we don’t do much to provide professional development to teachers of English Language Learners. So I’ve always been a little jealous of the TESOL affiliates that somehow seem to be there for everybody. And the connections those affiliates make in their communities.
The People’s Theatre Project is one affiliate connection that I’m particularly jealous of. Could you imagine? A free program that gets students talking, acting and out of their shells? The past couple of years, I’ve been bringing my students to our school plays, in the hopes that this could be a door in, to help them become more fully involved in their high school community.
Most kids who start U.S. schools in high school don’t enjoy the same kind of idealistic view of high school that the rest of us grew up with. For most American-born students, school is our social, emotional and educational realm, all wrapped up in one package, dotted by games and dances, senior pictures and yearbooks.
My students, however, know nothing of that. They don’t go to the dances, for the most part. Most are not involved in sports. They don’t really have a social circle that extends outside the English learning classroom, unless it’s through P.E. or art classes. They don’t participate in theater. Or chorus. Or band. Or clubs. You can lead a horse to water…
I miss those kinds of opportunities like the People’s Theatre Project. I miss them for my students.
While working as a full time teacher in the Bronx, I once helped bring 100 students from my school (at the time, the 8th worst high school in the city, according to the New York Times) to Lincoln Center to watch musicals. My babies at that time were scared to order their burgers from the white clerks at the Manhattan McDonald’s we passed, afraid they would not be understood by non-Spanish speaking people. We had to rehearse how to order, stand a few feet away to answer questions just in case… They just had never traveled out of the barrio.
And it was scary.
Burlington mostly is not that scary. But the opportunities to get students into the community, supported by the community, also are not really there.
In my next post, get a glimpse of the rehearsal almost two weeks ago that brought my students out of their shells. A little bit.