By Vita Forest
Lots of good things happened this week. This is one of them.
Our final dress rehearsal before the audition for a big interschool production was scheduled for Thursday. On Tuesday we discovered that one of the key players – the girl who was going to read the introduction explaining our piece to the audition panel, was away on holidays and would only arrive back at school next Monday – the day of the audition. My teaching buddy and I discussed who we could get to fill in for this girl, someone who was in the performance and who hadn’t already got a “special job”.
I thought of Ivan, a Year 6 boy who I had watched run a Peer Support Group. He had been friendly, firm and had handled the younger kids well. (Besides this, he seemed to possess a strong, expressive voice that could be clearly heard across the room). Neither my buddy or I particularly knew Ivan, but we knew he was a nice kid who always tried his best. He seemed like a good place to start.
I approached Ivan on Tuesday lunchtime carrying the script in my hand, and asked if he would like the job of filling in for the absent girl, with the slight possibility of having to read it for the actual audition.
Ivan wasn’t sure.
I was a bit disconcerted. I hadn’t expected this.
I explained that I thought he could do a really good job so why didn’t he take the script and look it over? If he really didn’t want to do it, we would find someone else. He reluctantly agreed.
The next day I mentioned this encounter to one of the Year 6 teachers. She stared at me in alarm and told me a different story about Ivan.
Apparently he was prone to anxiety.
Apparently he was not very confident.
Apparently he could get a bit tearful sometimes.
Maybe we should have gone with one of the school leaders who speak at every assembly. Perhaps we should have chosen someone on the Debating team. But I had wanted to give someone different a chance. Was this going to be a mistake?
Thursday was the day of the dress rehearsal. Feeling increasingly worried that I had caused Ivan some major stress, I sought him out at recess time.
Was he ok to read the script in front of everyone?
Yes, he told me. He had been practising. He would do it.
After lunch, the kids changed into their costumes and got into their starting positions. Ivan stepped forward with his script and…
Absolutely nailed it!
He spoke confidently, clearly and with excellent expression. I gave him the thumbs up.
The principal went and got us “an audience” of five classes of various ages from across the school. Ivan would now have to speak in front of over one hundred people.
Again he did a fantastic job. We continued on with the rehearsal.
Later Ivan told me – public speaking really scares him as he sometimes stutters!
The next day I found his teacher and was telling him the story. I was in the middle of the story -telling him how I had decided to choose Ivan and give him a go. He too, like the other Year 6 teacher, immediately looked worried and started to tell me he didn’t know whether Ivan would be a good choice – he didn’t know it had already happened! I told him how great Ivan had been. I told him how I hadn’t known Ivan had a stutter. His teacher was thrilled to hear of his success.
I love these times when a kid steps up, takes a risk and really shines. I hope Ivan will always remember how brave he was that day. I hope he will recall how despite feeling terrified, he was able to accomplish something wonderful. I hope it gives him confidence.
Sometimes we go to school to teach the kids. Sometimes we get taught by them.