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What motivational words would you give to a struggling theater teacher?

As theater educators, we usually do what we do because of our passion for both theater and teaching. When our students struggle, we are often the first in their corner to encourage them. But what happens when we are the ones fighting? When do the daily stress and frustrations add up until you feel like the show can’t continue?

I went straight to the source to get inside information from those who were there: theater teachers.

I asked: What motivational words would you give to a struggling theater teacher?

To have fun

Let yourself be played – and let the kids play! Stop, let go and shut up! (Julia B.)

If you can laugh and your students can laugh at every lesson, then you are doing well!

Teach the students to take care of their voices so that you can take care of your own! (Robert D.)

Have fun with him, show them how much you love him. The more enthusiastic you are about what you teach, the more enthusiastic they will become about what you teach. Share the love you have for her! (Misty R.)

Learn to laugh. We are all fallible, so are children. Learn to enjoy the process together. You are all developing artists. Learn to grow together. (David V.)

Find the magic

Remember when you first had that amazing “It’s Magic!” Moment. in the theater? You can configure the structure so that an unsuspecting child is hit by the same amazing moment. (Rachel W.)

Remember why you’re doing this

Remember that teacher who inspired you when you were a kid. (Aoife H.)

Remember WHY !!!! (Claire L.)

Don’t look at the big picture. Find the little moments, a student who finally “understands” or a moment of connection you had with a group. These are the little moments that make you go overboard, especially in a job where we are usually the only ones there. (Andi C.)

Theater skills are life skills. Your students may never use these acting skills, but they will always have them to use in life. (Zack P.)

It’s all about relationships! Work on relationships. (Andy L.)

It’s not always easy

If everything is easy and everyone is comfortable, you are doing it wrong. (Scott G.)

She’s getting better. (Joshua D.)

This is a temporary error. Trust your skills and knowledge. You have this! (Heidy P.)

Teaching is very much like technology / “hell” week. You remember all the things that go wrong and sometimes you don’t have time to admit all the wonderful things that happen. You feel like it’s all a mess. But in the end, most people see a wonderful end product and applaud all the hard work you’ve put in. In the same vein, there are others with you in other schools (or “productions”, by that analogy) who see what you’re doing and realize exactly how much of you got into what the audience sees. You are not alone, but you are trained and prepared for it! (Kathryn H.)

What you do matters

Plant seeds for growth and in time the fruits of your labor will flourish. (Andrea K.)

You will make a difference if you continue to expose them to the theater. The kids are having so much fun. (Nadine J.)

They may not tell you that, but you may be the reason some children went to school today. (TD)

A good teacher is one who knows he knows nothing and starts from the heart. (Andrea S.)

You are the reason why some of the children in your class can express themselves! (Stefan C.)

The journey is as important as the end product. Encourage students to stop and smell greasy paint along the way. When you engage students in creative games, improvisations, rehearsals, and shows, you give them a gift that will last a lifetime. (Kathi T.)

You matter and your work matters, so much! (OTC)

Your work is important, vital and necessary. (Sarah L.)

Keep a little perspective

The show will go up. The show will go down. You’ll be in your yoga pants. I borrowed it from someone who told me. (Jennifer P.)

Remember that they are only high school students (or any grade level you teach). They are very good at behaving like adults 75% of the time and this can make it difficult to remember that they are still children and will continue to do stupid things. Love them through it. It’s worth it. (Brittany M.)

It’s not the bells and whistles, use what you have to make it work. We don’t have theater, but we have a successful program because of our imagination, practice and fun! (Beth G.)

Make self-care a priority

It’s okay to take days off. Rest is important. (Tabitha C.)

What relaxation / breathing exercises do you do with your children? DO IT. Always remember the BIG IMAGE. (Andy R.)

Get five. Sometimes you learn the most by listening to them talk to each other. (Shannon R.)

It takes a village

Ask for help. You’re not alone. Make a list and then find out what can be taken from the plate or what others can do. (Christa D.)

Calm down. Don’t compare your program to others. Always keep children in mind. Make friends with coaches, custodians, secretaries and the accountant. They are wonderful people who will give you support. Ask what you need. You will never know if you don’t try! Find joy in the little things. (Carolyn G.)

You don’t have to do everything yourself. Find allies in your school. Create a system for parents, community and volunteer graduates. And remember that this is educational theater and you work with serious amateurs. Allow yourself and others an extra measure of patience and grace. (Erin M.)

You have this

Life is like a big chair. You never lose anything and you have total control. (Fiona Y.)

You’re doing well. It’s a process for everyone. (Anna M.)

Keep appearing! (Corianna L.)

The show must go on! Seriously, you’ll understand! (Caitlin P.)

The show will come together and it will be great! Enjoy the ride! (Kelly R.)

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