Crane School Blog: Focus on Learning

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Public Speaking - Play and Presentation
Shana Arthurs

Just yesterday, a student approached me, eyes wide and pooling with emotion. Despite the overwhelming enthusiasm and the hustle-bustle of eager actors stepping up to take their stage timethis student quietly and firmly stated that they were not comfortable in front of so many people.  When I explored their position, I found out that they were willing to talk with their partner, to collaborate and to brainstorm, but in front of all these people – to speak or to act – No. Not today.  

Their stance struck a chord that resonated from my own past...

Just yesterday, a student approached me, eyes wide and pooling with emotion. Despite the overwhelming enthusiasm and the hustle-bustle of eager actors stepping up to take their stage timethis student quietly and firmly stated that they were not comfortable in front of so many people.  When I explored their position, I found out that they were willing to talk with their partner, to collaborate and to brainstorm, but in front of all these people – to speak or to act – No. Not today.  

Their stance struck a chord that resonated from my own past.  I remember being that kid.  I did not like to talk in front of a large group of people.  With jumbled words and fear running through my veins, I did not even have the courage to speak to my teacher and let them know how I felt.  How ironic that I have lived my life on and off the stage since those early memories.  However, for me, the world of imagination and camaraderie drew me in and that was that.  BUT acting and public speaking can be, and often are, two separate worlds. Thankfully, at Crane, we explore both worlds quite often and have many opportunities to strengthen our stage presence.

In general, Crane’s student population is eager to play on the stage.  We often improvise scenes with specific guidelines or work with a short script, bringing words and characters to life in class.  I have been delighted by the number of hands that unanimously raise upwards in response to getting the chance to be “first!”. However, when I open up my peripheral vision, I also see reluctance in some partners or the quick catch of breath as I skim through the myriad of anticipating eyes. It turns out that we have more than one student that experiences doubt and hesitation when it comes to “the presentation.”  When studies find that “25% of America’s population is fearful of public speaking” (Washington Post) and “introverts make up one third to half of the population” (Forbes), it’s not surprising that some of us struggle with stepping in front of an audience.

Ultimately, I believe that courage to face our fear is put to the test when we have a message that must be delivered, or a story to tell that will make a difference, or we have people that depend on us to show up, make a stand, and be part of something that is greater than the individual.  I am so grateful because I witness small acts of courage every day at Crane in the theater.

So, when tomorrow comes, I believe that my student who was feeling overwhelmed will find a way onto the stage, for themselves, and for the people that support them. With quiet fortitude, or blasting enthusiasm, all of our students eventually step in front of an audience. Whether it’s a Current Event or a character in a show, a song or a poem to share--they make a stand and their voices ring out with bravery and inspiration!

Mark Your Calendar for 2020:
February 6 @ 6:30pm:  2nd graders present “Camp Rock and Rhyme”
March 11 @ 6pm:  kindergartners present “Stone Soup”
May 15-17:  US Musical

See you at the theater!

Shana Lynch Arthurs

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