At the heart of teaching is inclusivity. Everyone in the room must feel seen and heard. Every person receives, learns differently. In the thirty years of teaching, I am constantly re-examining what this means. It means: Representation matters. Conscious casting matters. Anti-racist policies matter. Gender identities matter.
I used to think it was give them a technique they can depend on and everything will be truthful and they will succeed but the acting process is complex. We are the instrument. It’s impossible not to take things personal. Actors are taught to take things personal. It’s part of the actor’s DNA and one of the reasons we choose acting. The acting process is invasive, intimate and add unresolved issues or personal trauma-teachers have to proceed with caution and respect each persons boundaries. We do not process the world in the same way.
The last two years has been a re-learning in how to teach the knowledge of thirty years to students who require figuring it out for themselves. I know I have one of those kids who is now an adult. I’ve learned from him and my students more than I can tell you.
I can put together a course and present an outline but there must be sensitivity to who is in the room and flexibility is something I must embrace daily. Sometimes I don’t think of what might offend, hurt or make someone uncomfortable until I see who is in the room and I listen to them. Then I adjust and learn, moving forward. I give myself permission to omit, add and revise as needed. Whatever works best for the student is my motto. I have nothing to prove. Teaching is being of service to the learning and that means sometimes I have to be the one to change and grow and not hold steadfast to what I already know.
Students today have a lot of boundaries and for very good reason. The past has shown us why. People in power have crossed the ethical line, causing trauma within our institutions. So-moving forward, I have to do better to prevent and protect. In a way, right now it might be an over correction. We are all a bit on edge, learning, cramming and trying to do better instantaneously. It’s exhausting but it’s the right thing to do.
I used to be more of a task master but I have changed because I sense that is what the world needs right now. Instead of a list of do’s and don’ts, it’s a conversation. Listening to understand as opposed to listening to respond. Ultimately, I am teaching the student how to access their authentic selves in search of the role. That means it’s in their own time, at their own pace and within the boundaries of their instrument.