On this day in 1984, larger-than-life Broadway legend Ethel Merman passed on. For today’s Friday Fun, try to belt out a coupla sentences the way Merman belted out a show tune. She herself once said, “You may have done all right elsewhere, but you haven’t really done it until you’ve faced a New York first-night crowd.”
In 3-5 sentences, describe a time when you faced a “New York first-night crowd.” What did you face, and how did you fare?
It’s not Friday, I am no Ethel Merman, and I really don’t consider myself a writer, I’m terrible at following rules (not sure I can do this in 5 sentences), but I’ll give it a try (I have some time).
My toughest crowd I have encountered teaching (since that is the only time I really come across a “crowd” or “audience”) was when I was teaching in inner city Dallas in my second teaching job of my career (my first job ended after the board of ed. decided that I didn’t fit the stereotypes of what a female should be). In Dallas I had anywhere from 60-112 students at a time (thanks to a mandate for daily PE without a plan or the financial means of to do it effectively), not much equipment and no budget for equipment (I got really creative with paper plates, old tennis balls from a nearby schools’ dead tennis ball room, and any other “alternative” pieces of equipment I could find…which was usually everyday things you find around your house), and 78% of the students didn’t speak English (I had taken Spanish in middle school/high school and then again in College (as an ACR = took the easiest class possible), but I was in no way prepared to teach a class), and a lot of students seemed to have a chip on their shoulders (later they disclosed to me that they felt disrespected by each other and teachers…after observing a few classes in the school, I could see that they were pretty right (I wouldn’t have responded well to getting yelled at and belittled as much as they were). The year started out really rough…their seemed to be at least 3-4 fights a day at first (no one seemed to know how to get along) and the language barrier was a pretty big obstacle as well…I tried though…invested in some books (I butchered a lot of phrases…at one point, I told them “si puedes oirme, pones tus manos en la caballo vs. cabeza” in attempt to get them quiet …one of my bilingual students pointed out that she didn’t have a horse…we laughed about it)…it was an ongoing joke through the year (and after that day, they loosened up with me…I think because they could see I was trying). The other thing that helped me was that I started doing a lot of group initiative, team building, cooperative/collaborative, and communicative activities (like a low ropes course modified for a gym and a large number of participants…I was basically teaching them mutual respect, how to get along, problem solve, and how to effectively communicate with each other (in the middle of the year, one of the students told me that PE was the only class she felt respected in)…it turned out all right! (I learned a lot through the situation).
I only stayed there for that year…I realized that I was going to burn out completely on teaching if I stayed in a school system that didn’t value PE and threw that many students in a room at time with 1 teacher (and then there was the fear that in a situation like that that someone was going to get seriously hurt…112-1 ration just isn’t safe!…and I was pretty sure that TX or that school system really didn’t have my back)…anyway, not ready to face that kind of crowd again for a bit…
Wow! I think that definitely qualifies as an Ethel Merman moment!! And don’t worry, I think Ethel broke a lotta rules herself…. 🙂
I love me some Ethel! Great post! And your blog is so darn pretty, it looks lovely on my iPad.
Awww, thanks PLGCM! Off to cruise around YOUR blog now! 🙂