Updated: Nov 4, 2018
As a new assistant teacher at Purple Carrots Drama Studio, I have already been amazed at the collection of small triumphs that make this program so rewarding to be a part of. While each Purple Carrots class is unique regarding age, strengths, group dynamics and challenges, there are common threads that run through all workshops.
One of the areas the program is designed to support is confidence-building. Students are gently encouraged to step out of their comfort-zones and explore their creativity. When they take that leap, the confidence boost they seem to experience is a joy to witness. In a recent class for adults with complex needs, when it was time to practice our dance piece, one of the students told me that she was not going to participate. She repeatedly voiced that she “can’t [do the dance]” and seemed anxious. When I asked if she felt nervous about it, she replied that she “didn’t want to bounce” because she felt like she was going to fall. I assured her that she could try participating in the dance in whichever way worked best for her, and that I would support her. After some convincing, she participated. Afterwards, her face beamed! She exclaimed over and over again, “I did it! I did it!” It is this feeling of pride that comes as a direct result of overcoming something that was previously anxiety-provoking that builds confidence in our abilities.
Students are able to build self-confidence when they feel successful. As a teacher, it’s particularly exciting to witness such growth in students who may not often experience this sense of success in more traditional educational settings. I can remember seeing this exact moment unfold in a recent class for 6-10 year old's. During the acting portion of the session, one of our students got up in front of the group to choose a costume item that would instantly transform him into a superhero. His speedy, creative mind chose his superhero look and power very quickly. He had the power of throwing boomerangs! His peers absolutely loved this idea, and had a blast taking turns being the boomerang themselves, and pretending to be thrown and returned to him at super-speed. By channeling the force of his natural high energy into character creation, he achieved a feeling of personal success, as well as acceptance and support from his peers.
Part of the Purple Carrots philosophy is that each student is unique and has their own strengths and challenges, and that these challenges are opportunities for growth.
It is our job as teachers to create an atmosphere where students feel safe enough to access their sense of play and creativity so that feelings of anxiety can transform into pride, and perceptions of personal weakness can become opportunities for success.
By Alicia Winn.