First off, its been awhile, about a year in fact, since I published a blog post. As with just about everyone who has started a blog, there is always that nagging feeling once you fall off the wagon of writing about needing to get back. For me, what nudged me back into writing is actually the view you see here while I am writing this.
This is a photo I shot of my view from a small dressing room deep in the belly of the Rocklin Community theater. You see I am about just about an hour away from stepping out on stage on opening night as Coach Bolton in our community theater’s performance of “High School Musical”. I have been part of the preparation of this performance since the end of last school year, practicing and rehearsing on and off throughout the summer. And now as I nervously wait for the curtain the rise, I know I have family and friends who are out there tonight and my number one thought is “why the heck am I doing this”?!?!!?
People keep telling me, “oh, you’ll have so much fun” but as of right now its more about nerves!
But the real reason is that I get to do this with my theater crazed daughter Rachel as she is also in the show.
Opening night, tonight actually goes back to her audition in the spring and then subsequent phone call that went something like this:
“Hey Ryan, our audio technician at the theater was a student of yours years ago, and as we were brainstorming ideas on who to get to be the coach, he said ‘Rachel’s dad was my teacher and a coach at RHS and he may be interested’”.
Well, 3 months later I am here now. In this dressing room, with my Wildcats coaching gear and my copy of my script, nervously waiting and wondering which lines I am going to butcher.
Now my blog is not really a lot about personal reflections and my family life, but I wanted to share as these experiences have been so helpful to me as an educator.So here are my 5 takeaways.
1) Stretch yourself. Basically, get out of your bubble and try new things.
This is kind of the main idea of this show, not to be confined to those predefined roles of jock, braniac, drama nerd, etc that we all know so well. For me, that was who I was for a long time. I was the jock, I was the kid who wanted to beat our rivals (those bastards at Edison High) in every sport. Plus Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics were pretty much represented all that was wrong in the world. As I headed off to college, sports still defined me as I played football at the University of Nevada, Reno. But, slowly things started to change while I was there. Part of it was the movie Batman, which got me interested in starting to collect comic books. Then came the film and drama classes I took which helped me really begin to appreciate and then love musicals like Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. I was even mocked a bit by my teammates as I read my comic books on our road trips. I had professors who tried to nudge me over to this world and I really thought this may be something I could do, but at the same time what kept me from doing anything in this world was the ruts my path was on. That being both my athletic world and my major, which I was too far along in to change. Retrospectively I wonder what would be different now if I made some of those changes, but alas, I truly am in a happy place now personally and professionally.
2) Work WITH kids - don’t stand over them
Being in this show, it’s refreshing to simply be a participant… in essence an equal to all the children in the cast (there are only 3 adults and the rest are all under 16). Actually, I would put myself at the bottom rung as I most likely have the least experience here! Being able to do everything from work through the lines to joking around with the other actors has been a lot of fun. This idea of not being the architect of the learning or coach of the game is something I don’t regularly do. So what can I do in my own life to get more of this? First off, say NO and not overstretch myself as much as I have in the past. Secondly, I continue to push myself to not get stuck behind my desk during class time as much and listen to my students and be more of that “guide on the side”.
3) “We’re All In This Together”
Yes, it’s THE song from this Disney musical, but I really am thinking about the message the show pushes hard; about how we should not really be defined by our cliques and groups. As a high school teacher, it is something I see everyday; and more and more my fellow teachers and I see kids struggling with mounting social and emotional pressures. I know it is a bit polyana to think that we can stop this as its human nature to surround one another with others who you are like and connect, but to be open to other interests and ideas only helps all of us grow.
4) Get Your Head In The Game”
I tell you, this line is one which my overbearing character says over and over again and it’s really connecting with me. The start of this show is also the first day back for our teachers here in Rocklin Unified where I work. This is an action packed day to say the least. Here’s a quick rundown of my August 9th:
As I think about this line again “get your head in the game”, it has been helpful for me to compartmentalize my thoughts and actions. One of the things that I do is to take on probably too many projects for both myself and others and it's the juggling of this which makes follow through a struggle. Case in point; knowing my lines for today!
So now… as they say in the theater world I hope I break a leg!