School calendars are full of compulsory evenings for teachers to attend; school productions, parent-teacher interviews, information nights, fundraising meetings and open nights. This week, our school held its annual open night. We all knew it was coming— we have been receiving emails about it for weeks and there have been numerous reminders in staff briefings and faculty meetings.
The expectation for open night is that each subject and year level will put together an impressive display of student work, examples of curriculum and as many “whizz-bang-exciting-gosh I want to enrol my child here” incentives as possible.
For this reason, I laminated all of my paraphernalia after last year’s event and safely stored it in my office. I was sitting back, feeling smug, as my colleagues rushed around gathering bits and pieces for their displays, confident that the drama department would be well represented with my incredible foresight and forward planning.
After teaching ended for the day, I smiled at the queue waiting to use the colour photocopier and waltzed into my office to collect my box of open night goodies. It was nowhere to be found. I became frantic, crawling under desks, climbing on top of chairs to check overhead storage spaces and, in one particularly over-the-top move, dragging a filing cabinet out into the middle of the floor. Nothing. I started to curse and panic. I had less than an hour to pull together a display that had taken most people days to develop.
Judging by the queues that were still milling around colour printers and photocopiers, printing out images was not going to be an option. I decided to smash together a Power Point presentation and, just in time, my band of student helpers arrived, shoes polished and abuzz with anticipation.
“Right! I need two of you to run down to the library and collect a data projector for me and I need one person to write some signs and the rest of you to work out some fun drama games you can show to people tonight. I’m going to set up the desks and finish off this PowerPoint.”
It must have been the air of panic that I exuded — my army of drama kids launched into a whirl of activity the likes of which I’d never seen. By the time visitors were milling in the auditorium, my students had formed a line of statues and were providing live answers to questions about studying drama. The PowerPoint presentation was playing in the background and I was able to breathe again, just in time for the principal and School Council President to walk past.
“You’ve really outdone yourself, Christina. It takes a lot of planning to put a display like this together and the kids have clearly been rehearsing for weeks to get their presentations just right. Well done.”
I shared a knowing smile with my trusty band of helpers and knew that I would be buying them all a canteen lunch the following day.
Christina Adams is a member of the Australian Education Union (Victoria) and a stand-up comedian