New Perspectives From The Second Grade Playground: Romeo and Juliet as Improve Theater, Blog # 3

 Dave cleans up the math department at his high schoolWelcome back, everyone for blog # 3: the fresh and refreshing perspective series.  If you have expectations and assumptions about finding something serious here, such a re-engineering and all that other good consultant stuff, this is NOT the place for you.  If you want to find out how we DID IT and won ALL of the awards, then stick around.

One day, in a land not too far away, I was called into the principal’s office ( so what else is new?) and informed that, in addition to math in the classroom, I would be given two groups of 40 students each to teach them improvisational theater. It was a pilot program hosted by a local repertory theater company in an effort to broaden their interest in school activities.  These were the best of the regular students and the zainy brainies.  I had three days to create a curriculum that would run for five days and our “opening day” was Monday, April 30th.

So, what can you teach second graders in a few short hours?  Well, the complete works of William Shakespeare come to my mind.  How about to yours?  Simple, easy to memorize.  Let’s see: Othello?  Merchant of Venice?  A Midsummer Night’s Dream?  Ah, Romeo and Juliet; yes, that’s it.  Romeo and Juliet.  The boys can be Romeo; the girls can be Juliet.  We will do the five most popular scenes, but the girls wanted no part of any kissing, so: no kissing.

Now what?  Well, I have to begin with the end in mind, right?  Right! So, now I need resources and relationships, right?  I need a vision, a mission and purpose, goals, a plan, a pilot program and someone to take notes on what is going right and what is going wrong.  Sounds like a project management task to me, right?  Right.  So, here we go.  Resources:  I bought for each child a copy of Romeo and Juliet at Border’s Books: you know, the books from Bantam Press that have the Shakespeare on the left side and the regular street English on the other side.  What you say?  You did not know that such books exist? Shakespeare made easy, my friends, very, very easy.  Then, I had to buy them some simple costume accessories, so down to Party America I drove and I got crowns and tiaras and scepters and all kinds of prince and princess stuff. 

OK, now back to campus where everyone got their book and we chose five popular scenes.  The first one being the castle tower scene so we went out to the jungle gym in the playground and the girls climbed to the top and started shouting, “Romeo, O, Romeo.  Wherefore art thou Romeo?  And the boys, at the bottom on the black jump mat, started shouting, “Below yonder window break.”  And we got a standing ovation and all A+’s.

Tomorrow, we will look at project management leadership as taught from the heart in our second grade classroom to find out what kind of SHAPE you are in as a project management leader.  The S stands for Standards, the H, of course, stands for Heart, the A stands for Attitude and Aptitude, the P stands for Persistence and Perspective, and the E stands for Excellence and Enthusiasm.  See you tomorrow.


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