Applied theatre just finished their new device drama, "Living Behind the Mask," a look at the masks we put on... all day... just to get through the days. We explored all the different persona's we wear during the course of our lives in order to be accepted, to be liked, to be promoted or appreciated. And we explored what happens when those masks are ripped away, revealing what we feel is vulnerability. The six month journey forced me to ponder my own masks.
There are days I ask myself, who am I? I often look at other teachers and marvel at their ability to seem so calm, so centered, so grounded when often I feel that I am drowning in doubt. I look at my students and wonder what impact I have on them. Their ability to bounce back from rejection, to stand up, brush themselves off and keep going... it inspires me. Their ability to forgive us, their teachers, for our mistakes, our bad days, our missteps, for all the things that haunt me late at night... Is it youth? Is it faith that as teachers, we are somehow held higher and therefore given more latitude than other adults? My students' belief that all their teachers must like them, must have their best interests at heart, must do the right thing for them -- staggers me.
First of all, I don't know about other teachers, but I often feel I do the wrong thing and then spend time correcting it. I do my best, but it always needs work. I can always be better. I know so many teachers who are truly gifted, truly talented - and I try to emulate and learn from them. On the flip side, every teacher must like their students? I know teachers who don't like any students. And I know some students who are difficult to like (at times.) How do we live up to that standard? Their faith that we, somehow, will have their backs... Where does it come from? And do we justify it?
The mask I wear as a teacher tries to be empathetic, humorous, patient and firm. And I know that I drop that mask almost every day. And the human side of tired, impatient, a little "blah" comes roaring through, threatening to expose my vulnerabilities and true face to the teens who stare at me everyday. And still, there are those days. Those days that remind me that the mask I wear contains portions of the person I am. I have days where I have become the mask and the best elements I try to project. Those days keep me plugging along, trying to improve and somehow meld the mask of who I want to be as a teacher with the reality of who I am.
So, at the end of the six month journey of "Living Behind the Mask," I think I took as much of an emotional journey as my students.
On a COMPLETELY, separate note, my book Changing The Way We Think, Using Arts to Inspire, Empower and Change Your School Community is now available on Amazon. Feel free to leave comments if you read it. I'd love to hear your thoughts!