An Unfinished Story
"We had worked since January to put this show together and suddenly it was over without any sort of closure or conclusion."
The middle school North Carolina Theatre Conference one-act festival was a week away and my cast had just completed their "home" performance of "The Yellow Boat". It felt like an unfinished story. We had worked since January to put this show together and suddenly it was over without any sort of closure or conclusion. Everything felt so impermanent. Like nothing mattered but at the same time everything mattered. Students slowly stopped participating in virtual school because they felt like their work didn't matter. I lost contact with my high school seniors in one day. They were told they were done and I never got the chance to end the year with them. My students were scared and I couldn't do anything to help them.
I felt helpless and constantly tired. Nothing I did was enough. The students knew last year that their spring grades wouldn’t count so they stopped attending meetings and doing any assignments, but at the same time providing that consistency for the students was so important. The interpersonal connections that we forge in school are so incredibly important for both students and teachers and it was taken away. There wasn’t anything I could do for my students and no matter what I tried I felt like I wasn’t doing enough.
My students have reported a loss of motivation to do anything. They are stressed and anxious. Many of my students have anxiety and depression already, and the pandemic has made it even worse. I try to talk to them about self-care and drinking water and the importance of moving around and getting a little bit of exercise. I also advocate seeking help if needed and finding someone to talk to about their feelings and issues. I’ve had students break down with me because they are just so overwhelmed with virtual school. I think we underestimated how difficult that transition would be on the students.
I miss rehearsing with my students and being able to create LIVE theatre. Recording over Zoom isn't the same. The connections created during the production of a live performance can't be matched.
The biggest challenge has definitely been trying to build a relationship with my students. It's hard to do that when you are looking at squares on a screen. Students need consistency and they didn't get that this year. It was a rocky start, then we would hit our stride, and right as soon as we felt like "we got this!" there was another change. That being said, this year brought some great challenges for my students. Instead of performing live, we got to explore filming and video editing. Between my advanced 8th grade students and my seniors, we were able to create 5 virtual performances. I am so proud of the work they have done.
- Madia Medico