It’s my second day subbing in North Hollywood for an art teacher who has been gone quite a while. This scenario is a lot like my own ruminating brain: Too much free time = feral behavior.
With no prepared art lesson, I went into sub ninja mode in a hurry.
Me: “Who here knows the musical Hamilton?”
1/4 of the kids raise their hands.
Me: “Who here knows the musical Dear Evan Hansen?
5 kids out of 40 wave. 3 out of the 5 have dyed hair, more than a few piercings and outfits that look like soldiers who had a knife fight with anime characters.
Me:”Dear Evan Hansen is a story about a kid named Evan Hansen who fakes the friendship of another high school senior, Conner Murphy, who has recently killed himself. He writes letters to Connor, and vice versa back to him, to pretend he had a huge friendship with this troubled boy. The sole purpose for this ruse is to date the dead kid’s sister.”
Student #1: “What’s a ruse?”
Student #2: “It means, ‘You’re a dumbshit,’ Carlos.”
Me: “It means ‘fake game’ and it also means if you call out profanity again without raising your hand I will be sending you to the office. And that’s no ruse.”
Ooohs and ‘That is cold, man'”erupt, along with a few, “Roasted!!!!!!!!”
Me: “Back to Evan Hansen’s lie: It’s not a great scenario, but in the process of dissecting this kid’s past we learn that Connor was bullied and felt alone. Connor felt like he had no other choice but to end his life. Dear Evan Hansen is about what can happen when people feel connected. Like they matter.”
All eyes are now on me. (Except for this one female couple who have their hands intertwined and are drawing happy hearts up and down each other’s forearms. You can’t win them all with your . Moving on.)
Me: “In the beginning of the show, Evan sings a song about what it’s like to wave through a window at a scene he can’t be a part of. We are going to listen to this song and then create a drawing based on the emotion it draws out of you.”
Grumbles and mumbling.
Me: “Oh, you don’t want to that?”
Epic shouts of protest.
Me: “Why don’t you ask me if you really have to participate?”
Them: “Do we really have to participate, Ms. Frizzle?”
Me: (Stonefaced) Yup. Now listen.
And they did.
And while some of them created something akin to stick figures on crack, some of them did masterpieces this.
And that made it all worth it.
Happily Ticked Off Tip #8: Push through and teach a lesson in the classroom of your choice, even if at first it seems like no one is listening. They just might be and you’ll be glad for the connection.
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Who did you make a connection with today?