However, this time something changed. I had a passionate and talented dancing teacher next to me. My community teacher partner was a fantastic dancer and loved to dance. Not only that, another one of our junior teachers also did dancing and was also very talented and excited. Both of these teachers brought passion that was contagious. Passion and enthusiasm are definitely catchy. I found myself slowly and reluctantly engaging in the process. My community teaching partner planned to the dance and showed the kids step by step in such a way that even I could understand. It started to make me like dance, just a little more.
At the same time, a concert team was implementing plans. They had checked out the venue, planned a tight timetable, looked at movement in between numbers, spaces to hold students and ways to get on and off the stage seamlessly. It seemed to be managed. One confident staff member was brave enough to tackle to the sound, backgrounds and screens. The team prepared all the concert notes which was a huge relief. Then my teaching partner gave some examples and links for costumes and we emailed them to parents. There was a long list of questions but I was really surprised about how enthusiastic and positive the parents were. They were just as engaged and when I tried to pinpoint why it was because their kids were fully engaged and excited. Parents wanted to get involved and support their children. Suddenly costumes became a bonding experience not a hassle which was an outcome I didn’t expect.
Over the next eight weeks, we had a two hour time slot on Fridays to rehearse. We built in extra rehearsals in the last week. I was amazed at how these little six and seven year old’s could absorb this dance so quickly and enthusiastically. They were determined to learn the dance. My teaching partner and I also heavily focused on mindset and the management of feelings as well as the dance aspect. It seemed to become a much deeper learning experience. We performed for anyone who come in the door to build their confidence.
The day come and I watched these little kids up on the stage dazzle and amaze the crowd. They knew the dance so well they didn’t even need us there with them. They smiled and remembered their steps. And we were first! I couldn’t believe how excited the kids were, how ready they were and how engaged they were. They come of stage buzzing, excited and proud of themselves and each other. As I watched our kids on stage, I was reminded that the kids and their experience is at the heart of what I do and why I want to teach. Even more surprisingly, was how many parents went to trouble of emailing such positive feedback to us!
The concert, the way that it was run and more importantly, the confidence, enjoyment and pride I saw in the all the children was worth every single second of stress. So what have I learnt about school concerts that made a difference:
- You need passionate people to drive the concert: this was essential as passion is contagious and pushes people to a higher standard. Passionate and driven people tend bring others on board. My community teaching partner also helped bring confidence to me and changed my opinion about concerts.
- You need a strong management team: this eliminated so much stress. Everything such as maps, plans and notes was pretty much handed to staff on a platter. Every possible scenario had been thought of and plans were in place. All staff members were utilised whether in a class or not. Ushers, runners, extra people supporting teachers and more. This was a key element of the concert success.
- The kids are at the heart of this and need to enjoy some of the experience: there are times when kids start to drop off in enthusiasm. Usually towards the end when it is simply a matter of drill and practise. However, this comes back closer to the date. The sense of pride was exceptional on the night. All children come off with a smile on their face.
- The concert experience needs to be strengthened with personal skill development: managing nerves, what to do when you make a mistake, how to be positive about an experience, savouring the moment, taking pride in what you do, teamwork, accepting feedback, dedication, gratitude, persistence and of course performing for an audience were a small snapshot of the skills that we were able to build into the concert experience. Life skills that needed to be used in an authentic and real life experience.