If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough. – Mario Andretti
Plain and simple, I’ve got a brilliant staff. I call it the Dream Team for good reason. It’s full of men and women who get it done and make the journey one epic ride. But perhaps their primo attribute is that they’re willing to try anything . . . at least once. Last year at our middle school’s annual variety show, a vaudeville-style escapade long on ambition and sometimes short on actual talent, one middle school teacher launched the grand idea to moonwalk our way across the stage in form of a teacher “Thriller” act. We worked for weeks and weeks to perfect our zombie moves, unzipped the make-up bag to paint on the requisite grunge and brought the house down with our inaugural faculty act.
As fun as it was to coordinate and perform, and as much as the act played to roars from the crowd, how much did novelty factor into crowd approval? If we had surprised the crowd with a tone-deaf ensemble sure to get gonged by anyone with a sliver of musical talent, would the shock factor still have caused cheers? This year’s act had to bring the awesome and thus, the planning started early.
Keep in mind that many of my staff members have visited the Ron Clark Academy and know the epic routines unhatched by members of RCA, such as this first-day-of-school choreography that undoubtedly mesmerized those students:
Considering that we’ve got the collective rhythm of toadstools, mastering a step routine could prove injurious to our bodies, not to mention our psyches. One all-star teacher, who’s never met a challenge she wouldn’t embrace, threw down the gauntlet: bring the awesome by bringing the Barnum. With a common love for The Greatest Showman, we latched on to making the title song from the musical come to life. Knowing that the degree of difficulty in such a routine was akin to a blindfolded triple Salchow, Friday mornings before school, starting way back in January, found us gathered in the school’s multi-purpose room, walking through the steps in between fits of laughter. Each Friday we progressed, both in the routine and in the enjoyment of the act, until three months later, the curtain rose, and it was showtime:
With a few weeks to reflect on the event, here are a few of my takeaways from the experience:
- Having Fun Together Boosts Morale – Don’t underestimate the value of laughing as a staff. Every Friday morning when we practiced, Laughter waltzed in the room with us. Perhaps the guffaws stemmed from our limited rhythm, but laughing at yourself often proves the most beneficial. Indeed, after conquering this routine, we all felt ready to go to war together.
- The Harder the Task, the Greater the Satisfaction – This is the takeaway that I’d love for my students to learn. Pulling off this act proved difficult, requiring lots of practice and repetition, but undoubtedly the satisfaction gained is directly proportional to the effort exerted.
- Awesome Begets More Awesome – “What’s next?” That’s a question that’s been floated at least a few times by a few staff members. What are we doing for an encore next year? With this type of Dream Team of a staff, the hunger will be there to go bigger and better, even if it requires starting earlier in the year. Maybe Friday mornings just need to become dance/therapy sessions as a staff.
Hmm, maybe that Bolshoi company could use a few aging yet willing dynamos to add some camaraderie and team spirit to its troupe?