Though we had a clear plan, improved communication and the will to persevere, our second attempt to defeat the Magic Carpet Challenge was not successful. The company experienced a host of emotions during the sixty minute session. Did we fail or just not finish? The written reflections expressed deep, thought provoking thoughts and feelings that will carry us into our next challenge. Jamoya emphatically stated, “I’m not going to let this barrier block me.” None of us will, Jamoya.
Breaking the Barriers of Language
When first we broke into groups of three to discuss the central message of our opera, Andrew, Beki and Josúe seemed a bit uncomfortable as they attempted to communicate. Neither Beki nor Josúe has a command of the English language. In fact, Josúe arrived from El Salvador in August speaking no English at all. Beki had a head start on understanding as she arrived in the United States late last school year. As other groups conversed and time passed, the three began determining a way to convey their ideas to the company. Beki and Josúe offered Spanish verbs indicating ways to confront or move past barriers. They charted their ideas in Spanish on large paper. They then showed Andrew the meaning of these words through gesture. As Andrew understood, he shared and wrote the English translation. How ironic that they were actually doing that which they were trying to articulate in words.
What is important to us? About what do we care profoundly? The mask has served us well in digging deeply to uncover and discover our fears, our hopes and our vision for ourselves in the future. What am I hiding behind the mask? What am I hiding from? When do I put on my mask? When and for whom do I take it off? What does my mask represent? In responding to these questions, company members were able to identify and analyze individual behaviors and habits. Our actions and behaviors are motivated by external and internal ideas and perceptions that drive us to do the things we do. When we are conscious of our motivation for acting, we can then think about altering those behaviors we know are counterproductive to our well-being and to the well-being of others.
Company members generated a collective list of things that hold them back and keep them from showing their true selves.
“Where am I? I feel scared. I’m confused. I’m going to fall.” These words were common among members of Take Off the Mask Kids Opera Company as they were blindfolded and led by a partner through the hallways of the school. Up and down stairwells they proceeded with great trepidation and anxiety.
Each took turns being leader and follower. What was learned during this one-hour exercise could not be replicated or simulated by a textbook or curriculum guide. Effective communication, trust in self and others, consciousness of self and surroundings, risk taking, cooperation and patience were applied in an authentic context as students moved cautiously from one floor to another with their classmates.
Upon reflection, Carley wrote, “Even though I was scared, I still trusted Ruby to keep me safe.” [Read more…] about Trust Me
Our Company Logo
What is a logo? Why is it important to a company? What does it represent? These questions we pondered as we thought about our company name, Take Off the Mask Kids Opera Company. Each student drew a pictorial representation of our company name and composed a written defense proving its potential and significance in representing who we are. Watching students prepare and verbally practice their defenses was intriguing. They were clearly engaged in the process and motivated to persuade their audience.
Osdiel defends his logo design, the one selected by the company to best represent its name. [Read more…] about Our Company Logo
Take Off the Mask
We are Take Off the Mask Kids Opera Company. On the first day of school when the class was presented with the mask and I asked, “How will the mask help in our learning this year?” Jasmine G suggested a powerful metaphor that has informed our instruction and our decisions as a company ever since. In thinking about who we are and whom we represent, Jasmine also offered a new word she had encountered in song lyrics.
The word . . . invincible. This led us back to the mask. How can we be invincible if we don’t take off the mask? In the process of determining our company name, students generated other metaphors and possible names that would help us present ourselves to the world. But, when company members broke into small groups to defend the name they thought absolutely best to represent us as a group, Take Off the Mask was the obvious choice. [Read more…] about Take Off the Mask