For years I have worked on teaching my class the art of yielding to others. The idea of facilitating a student led discussion with twenty-four students, where no one raises a hand asking permission to speak, but everyone contributes to the conversation has always intrigued me. When should I speak? When is it better to hold my tongue and allow others to be heard? How does knowing when to speak help me as an individual and help my class as a whole?
For many, this may seem an impossible feat, but for Lightning Strike Kids Opera Company, anything is possible.
We participate in exercises to instill the value of yielding and to help us understand our own tendencies in behavior. We start with a counting game, which when introduced, seems simple, but in reality is quite difficult to master.
The objective . . . Start at 0, count to ten. One person starts the counting and others follow in sequence. If two or more people say any given number at the same time, the counting starts over at 0. In this manner, when the group members reach 10, they declare victory. Try it. How many attempts will it take?
Video of counting exercise
Yesterday, during a visit from our Community Superintendent, Dr. LaVerne Kimball, I witnessed a transformation in my students. They did it! For the first time, without my intervention, they shared thoughts, feelings and ideas about our opera process while successfully yielding to their classmates. One student stood to speak and immediately noticed his company mate standing across the circle. He sat down and waited for another opportunity, allowing his classmate to take the floor. This continued for twenty minutes, with everyone listening attentively and adding to the dialog when appropriate. Dr. Kimball now knows about our company jobs, our central message for the opera and specific aspects of our learning. But more importantly, we know more about ourselves.