Our Self-Reg Christmas Play Experience

Yesterday was our Christmas Musical Performance, and I’ll admit that I was nervous. We did our first dress rehearsal on the stage in our costumes that morning, and we had to make some last-minute changes based on the singing, the dancing, and the flow of the play. During our dress rehearsal, we had a Grade 1 class in the audience, and some kids mentioned being nervous with just this small class watching them. How would they feel when hundreds of parents and grandparents filled the seats?

This is when something amazing happened: the students were better than they have ever been before! They sang, they danced, and they even delivered their lines loudly, clearly, and with expression. It was incredible to watch, and I’m even more thrilled now that our Reading Specialist Teacher, Sandy, got the whole performance recorded. 

Now I sit back and wonder, why with such a massive audience, were the students better? My teaching partner, Paula, and I discussed this question after school yesterday, and we’re wondering if Self-Reg played a role. 

Yesterday’s audience was not full of unknowns. It was full of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, and community members that love, care for, and support these children and us every day of the year. These people were not looking critically at our performance … they were cheering us on! They were laughing with us, clapping enthusiastically, and even singing together with us at the end of the play. 

While I’ll admit feeling slightly overwhelmed by the numbers when I walked into the gym, I was also feeling connected to this audience. This is a very tight-knit school community, so while students saw their own family members, they also saw faces of many friends and acquaintances around the gym. Stuart Shanker, Susan Hopkins, and The MEHRIT Centre speak about the important connection between relationships and Self-Reg.

When we had our dress rehearsal, our small audience was full of many unknowns. I wonder if the kids felt this lack of connection, and performed differently than they did when surrounded by the love of family, friends, and the community. I’ve been a part of many Kindergarten holiday performances before, and usually the children don’t sing, dance, or act when greeted with such a large audience. I think that our audience yesterday afternoon was just as big as many others that I’ve experienced in the past, but it was their connection to the kids that varied. Maybe it’s not about numbers, but love!

As we headed to the gym yesterday afternoon, Paula told every single child, “I’m proud of you, and you’re going to be amazing!” She was genuine, caring, and reminded the children that they are loved and supported. This coupled with the feelings exuded by the school community helped make for a great play. Yesterday’s experience makes me think about school assembly performances. How can we always help all kids feel believed in and loved, as our kindergarteners did yesterday? What impact might this have on the quality of the performances and the feelings of the students? As the holiday concerts and plays come to an end, I’m wondering how to make Self-Reg assemblies a yearly reality.


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