Monday, June 19, 2017

Fashion Show Phenomenon!

On Thursday, June 15, 2017, my school hosted a fashion show. The students were extremely excited about participating in and/or witnessing the event. I had a host of different emotions churning inside, both positive and negative. In the end, it turned out quite well.

Here are some of the tweets, with photos, from our official school account.

 When I reflect on these events after the fact, I often come away with several "ahas".
This time, I think there were more "hmmms" than "eureka" moments. That's not a bad thing - it just means that there's a lot to process and digest.

1) How much rehearsal is enough?

I used my library and media time with the youngest students to practice the walking route and "pose points", but for the older classes, we only tried it a couple of times in the library. We only had one official, everyone-together rehearsal in the gym, at 11:00 a.m. the day of the shows. Was this sufficient? The fashion show definitely was not as polished as our winter or spring concerts are, but is that a requirement for public events? I'm on the fence about this - practicing in the actual space where it is scheduled to take place means less anxiety for students but removing students from class to spend most of the time waiting for their thirty seconds of speaking or strutting time may not be the best use of the little time we have left.

2) Was the lack of an evening performance helpful or a hindrance?

Using the school in the evening requires obtaining a permit and a lot more supervision. After consulting with my administrator, we decided to keep it simple and offer two shows during the day - at noon and at 4:00 p.m. - with the hope that adults who wanted to attend would be able to make arrangements for one or both of these times. Did this arrangement provide enough flexibility for parents and family members? We set up 120 chairs and most of them were filled at both shows, but I didn't make an official count and students were permitted to come watch over the lunch hour, which may have skewed the numbers. I just hope we didn't unintentionally exclude parents with shift work that were unable to manoeuver their schedules to make it. The parents that were able to come enjoyed the show. Here's a short video of one student. (His mom posted it publicly, so I feel comfortable re-sharing it here.)
3) How much did we defy stereotypes? How much did we enforce stereotypes?

Frequent readers of the blog will remember this post - - in which the students and I tried to discuss the implied messages we receive about who can and cannot be a model. I hoped the students would realize and internalize that you don't have to be a tall, thin, white female to be a model. We didn't have the time or capability to have every student model their projects, so in the interest of student voice and choice, each class voted (anonymously using the Senteo Clickers) their top 5 recommendations for class representation in the fashion show. Even though there were some outfits that I thought were worthy to be included in the show, I refrained from interfering in that way and respected what decisions the students made. The classes also voted on who should be the MCs - we had auditions when there were more interested students than available spots. I think I need to do a follow-up lesson to take a hard look at some of our choices. Why? Because as I look at the list of the models, there are more girls than boys. In two of the classes, 100% of the models were female. Why is this? Is it because the outfits made by the girls in these classes were of better quality than the boys? Or is it because despite our discussions, we/they still subconsciously believe that modeling clothes is a female occupation?

4) How much help is required to run such an event?

My goal was to make this a "no-stress" event for my fellow teachers. This is a hectic time of year and I didn't want them to be pressured into doing extra work that would take them away from the important tasks they still have to do with only 2.5 weeks of school left. No "volun-told" duties for this event, no sir! This was to be a student-led, student-focused time. I was so grateful and pleased that so many of the staff members attended one or both of the shows to support their students. What I quickly realized was that, in spite of my intentions to handle it by myself with student workers, I couldn't do it on my own without other adults. Some folks agreed beforehand to help supervise but not everyone was able to follow through on their original commitment. I really appreciated Renee Keberer, Thess Isidro, and especially Wing Chee Lee (our music and ESL teacher) who sacrificed her prep time and lunch time to help me supervise students in the gym and hall during the chaos that was the one and only rehearsal. (Wing Chee, I hope you found the token of appreciation in your classroom!) I also have to thank Moyah Walker from Burrows Hall Junior P.S., who brought five of her students up to our school to showcase some of their amazing clothing-related projects done during her STEM-focused time with them. I'm sorry that none of the Value Village managers were able to attend the event, but I'll be sending them a copy of the program and some photo highlights.

Like my other major projects, I do not plan on repeating this same assignment, but I was very pleased with the learning it provided me and my students.

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