Turn It Up


I met Brad on a college campus where he was studying journalism. His bright smile and big personality made it easy to converse about Mrs. Allen, the high school drama teacher who turned his idiosyncrasies into assets.

I was a quirky kid in high school. I had plenty of energy but lacked focus. I enjoyed doing unexpected stunts just to see people’s reactions. I am certain that I drove my parents and teachers crazy. However, there was one adult who appreciated my eccentricity, Mrs. Allen. Her drama class was the perfect place to channel my creative impulses. Memorizing lines and waiting for my cues helped me focus. I also developed a deeper understanding of my emotions and found healthy ways to express them.

Mrs. Allen started every class with improvisation exercises. We did these in pairs or small groups. Sometimes she gave us a situation, and we had to quickly jump in and start acting. Occasionally, she gave us a box of props and required us to pull something out and start using it. These activities taught me to think on my feet and to quickly appraise a situation. I had to carefully attend to the other actors and respond to their ideas.

In all of my other classes, I had to tone it down, but Mrs. Allen allowed me to turn it up. I was encouraged to be bold and innovative. I became more confident and creative. I learned to work collaboratively with others and developed trust. I became the best version of myself.

Brad’s story reminded me that the moments which matter most to students are not necessarily the culminating events, with costumes and an audience. Students remember the moments when they feel fully engaged and fully alive. When did a teacher bring out the best in you? Share in the comments below.

Wishing you an endless supply of chalk and chances-


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