Monday, November 28, 2011

a christmas pageant... with a twist

so today . . . i am more than a little concerned about what is going to happen with our christmas pageant at school this year...

yes, it is that time again--time to make decisions about what we are going to do for our christmas program. the first year i worked at my current school, i didn't really have a good idea about what was expected. i figured i would teach my kindergarteners a christmas song, and when it was our turn we would sing. their parents would get to see them up in front of everyone, snap a few pictures, and everyone would go home happy.

i was so naive.

in the middle of october, teachers started talking about the christmas program. i ignored it. christmas was still two months away, and how long could it take to teach my kids a song? so we continued working on fall projects and didn't think too much about the christmas program.

at the beginning of november, i started hearing christmas songs wafting down the hallway during music time. i seemed to be the only one who was not yet practicing a christmas song. i decided maybe i should at least choose something, just in case it turned out to be harder than i thought. so i found a nice little song (called happy birthday, Jesus) that had lovely words and a mellow sound, and started teaching it to the kids.

they were less than thrilled. "do we have to sing that song again?" they started whining... in mid-november... "yes," i said. "we have to learn this song so that we can sing for our parents for christmas." but i knew i was in trouble if they were already tired of it with still a month to go before the performance.

and then right before thanksgiving, one of the teachers asked me if i had sent home a letter yet about the costumes for the program. costumes? they needed costumes?? yes, she went on to explain, the parents would provide the costumes, or money to purchase the costumes if i preferred. they were used to it. i just had to send a letter home. and it was best to do it now, she said, before they got busy with christmas stuff.

we hadn't even had our thanksgiving feast yet. we were still busy making pilgrim costumes...

and my song didn't really need costuming. it wasn't about sheep and shepherds or little drummer boys or stars and angels. it was just a nice little song about christmas being all about Jesus. you know, because it is His birthday!!!

ok, so, apparently i needed costumes. i listened to the song again, and decided i would just have the kids dress in party clothes--whatever they already had in their little closets that looked nice would be fine. and it wouldn't cost anybody anything. so i wrote the note to the parents, knowing they would be relieved, and went back to thinking about thanksgiving.

until the next day...

until the next day when the first parent came into my classroom and said, "what do you mean they don't need a costume for the christmas program! it's the CHRISTMAS PROGRAM!! they need costumes!!!!" i tried to explain that costumes were not going to enhance our performance. in fact, costumes would probably distract from the message of our very meaningful song. i assured them that it was going to be fine. our performance would be wonderful. they didn't need to worry about it.

i'm sure they worried about it.

two weeks before the christmas program, the same teacher who asked me about costumes (she really was trying to help me--i was so clueless,) told me that we were going to start practicing on the stage in the gym. every day, we would practice. and not just our class--all the classes. so, it appeared that for two weeks, we were going to spend the better part of our morning sitting on the floor of the gym watching the other classes practice their songs until it was finally our turn. because since the kindergarteners are the oldest, they are always last... and maybe i should mention here that the actual program was not going to take place in the gym--it was going to be in the sanctuary--so i was not sure how helpful all this gym practicing was going to be anyway. not to mention the fact that we weren't getting anything else done! and i was supposed to start reading groups in december...

the next day we tromped up to the gym with everyone else, and that's when i realized that i was in big t.r.o.u.b.l.e. the other classes had hand motions. they had dance routines. their songs were lively and fun. those kids didn't know all the words to their songs, but boy could they move! AND apparently they were also going to have costumes!

my class was going to stand there in their party clothes and sing a song. no motions. no dancing. no costumes.

i was pretty sure that i would be out of a job after the christmas program...

and then the next year, our director decided that instead of just singing a song, the three older classes should put on a christmas pageant. she had seen one done somewhere else and thought it would be a good idea if we did one.

i was pretty sure it wasn't a good idea. but since i'm not in charge of the world, i was suddenly in charge of the christmas pageant.

ok, well technically i wasn't in charge of the pageant, but i had plenty to do. i rewrote the script, because whoever had written the original script had clearly not had four and five year olds as actors. the school bought costumes for the people parts, but the teachers were assigned the task of making the animal costumes, since oriental trading company didn't sell animal costumes. since i was still the new guy, i sort of stood back and watched as the other teachers tried to figure out what to do. finally i couldn't take it any more! "i'll make all the sheep costumes," i said, "if you guys can do the others." they quickly agreed, since there was a pattern for the other animals, but not for the sheep. so i grabbed my bundle of fleecy fabric and headed home...

during the day, we practiced the program--we practiced the speaking parts, and we practiced where to stand and when to move, and we practiced the song. and we didn't make any progress on reading groups... and then at night the teachers stitched our little fingers off (well, not me. i used a sewing machine. but as i later found out, none of the other teachers could use a sewing machine, so the other costumes were stitched by hand, or GLUED together!) we didn't get a lot of work done at school, but it looked like the pageant was coming together.

and it did. it took a lot of work that first year, and all of us were ready to jump off a bridge and cancel christmas, but the kids looked cute, and their parents took pictures, and everyone went home happy--especially the teachers, because the pageant was DONE!!

unfortunately, we did such a good job, and the kids looked SO cute, and the parents took SO many pictures, and everyone was SO happy, that we were expected to do the pageant again the next year... and the next year... and the next year...

but this year is going to be a little bit different. this year our kids are younger--they are about six months younger than what we usually have--which will make a difference in the pageant. we don't have enough kids who can handle speaking parts, so this year i will narrate the story while the kids (in their costumes, of course) will act it out. and then we will sing a lively song at the end. with hand motions :-)

this year, we decided to wait until after thanksgiving to start working on our song. which meant that today was the day! so during music time, i started describing to the kids what we were going to do, and why we were going to be singing the same song over and over and over again until we knew it really well. they seemed to be listening, so i went on to describe how we would act out the story and how we would wear costumes. and then aiden raised his hand, and excitedly said, "can i be spiderman?"

spiderman? in the christmas pageant?? i can see it now...

and then sadie said, "i want to be rapunzel!"

spiderman and rapunzel in bethlehem... it's only a matter of time before the angry birds try to get in on the act too!


Mom said...

Oh, dear! Been there, done that. You have my sympathy and you are right. It takes precious education time that you can never get back.
However, the kids will have a ball and Christmas is an exciting time for all.
This too shall end

Carroll said...

I don't think you have any idea how much fun you're really having Julie! I know it's a job but most of us never have so much excitement with those little imaginations as you do. So enjoy the fun and the not so fun stuff and make it the best ever! You can do it!