This week at Henderson we got the opportunity to observe the children in their Geography Challenge. We were not told that we wouldn’t be able to meet with the kids directly this week, so we went to Henderson and got to sit in on their Geography Challenge. Watching this activity helped us learn how to instill positivity amongst the kids. As per the teachers rules, even when a kid got the question wrong, the entire crowd applauded them. I would like to use this energy in our next meeting with the 5th graders. I think if we can get them enthusiastic about the Shakespeare project, they will be more willing to cooperate.

To prepare for lasts weeks meeting that we unfortunately didn’t get to have, we had name tags to split the scholars up into groups. There were those who wanted a large, medium, and small part. We went through our script and assigned each character large, medium or small depending on their lines. We were then going to have the children read some Macbeth and then we would assign them accordingly to meet what they wanted and what they were able to do. We hope to still use this method of assignment for next week when we get to meet with the kids.

This week when we arrived to rehearsal, scholars were playing geography trivia. I recognized many of the contestants as the scholars in our Shakespeare group. As they answered true/false questions, the audience cheered them on. The crowd was a bit wild, and upon our arrival some of the students in the audience were negative and booing at the others participating on stage. The Higher Achievement staff were quick to shut down the negativity, and soon the scholars were extremely supportive of their classmates. Even if a participating scholar had gotten the question wrong, they received a multitude of cheers. Although we quickly realized there would be no rehearsal, I am glad we went because we were able to see different techniques other Higher Achievement staff used to manage the many loud students. We heard different ways of getting their attention too. It was a good example for Jessie, Bridget and I and we’ll use these strategies going forward. Our contact person is a Jepson alum and it has been great to see the work she does at Henderson. What she has learned here in Jepson is applying to her new job at Higher Achievement. I look forward to talking with her more and hearing of her experiences with both Higher Achievement and her time at the University of Richmond.

We had gone into today’s rehearsal hoping to a read through of Macbeth in our smaller groups with new casting. The smaller groups will allow us to not only move through the script more quickly, but also keep control of the scholars and help them focus. I am disappointed that we were not able to practice as we found out this coming week we will not have rehearsal either. This makes me very nervous as the show is in a few weeks. The scholars attend Higher Achievement on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so Bridget, Jessie and I plan on trying to make up a few rehearsals on some of these days leading up to the performance. Many of our rehearsals have been cancelled due to early school releases or the fall festival. This is a bit frustrating as there is little time until the performance. I know that no matter how much rehearsal we get in, our scholars will still do a fantastic job!