I was unsure of what to expect my first week at Henderson-Higher Achievement as a part of the Jepson Shakespeare project. Last year, I served as a study hall aid/mentor at Henderson but I knew this experience would be very different. It was comforting to see a few familiar faces of Henderson staff upon our arrival Monday night. Jessie, Bridget and I had an overwhelming group of thirty kids eagerly waiting our instruction in the auditorium.
We excitedly introduced ourselves to the group and began to explain the Jepson Shakespeare Project/what they would be a part of for the next few weeks. To get to know our scholars, we had them each introduce themselves by sharing their name and if they could be an animal, which they would be. This was a bit challenging as there were thirty of them and they struggle to listen to each other/have smaller conversations. After we were able to get through all of the introductions, we then showed the scholars a short summary video of Macbeth. They found it entertaining and began to ask a multitude of questions. I was surprised at how many characters they picked up and the depth to which they retained the main plot from the three minute video we showed. Afterward, we were able to point out the section of the play our group specifically would be performing. By showing them the summary and our part, they were able to start thinking of characters they would be interested in playing.
Next, we decided to have the scholars play the bullfrog game. They loved this game and had so much fun playing it. Even one of the Henderson-Higher Achievement staff participated. At first, they were a bit confused on the rules and a few kids (that were not the murderer) stuck their tongues outs to be funny. As the game went on, they were able to focus more, improve eye contact and use their acting skills to fake their deaths. It also inspired many of them to volunteer to play the murderers in Macbeth!
In conclusion, the first week went well. In the coming weeks, it will be difficult to maintain all thirty students on task. I don’t think they will listen to us all the time, but if we continue to use strategies given to us during the Higher Achievement orientation I know it will get easier. We were also told the scholars are still catching up with one another as the Higher Achievement program is a mix of different schools in the area. This will pass by next week or the following. I’m glad the scholars are excited and I’m looking forward to this coming week’s rehearsal!