After hearing the name Airtable dozens of times on my theater teacher Facebook groups, I finally bit. It only took me a week of playing with the powerful database platform to realize that I needed to pay for the premium features and use this for the rest of my teaching career.
What is Airtable? Well think Sheets or Excel, but on steroids. Not only can Airtable organize a spreadsheet and take updates from a form submission, but it has powerful "Blocks" that let you create printable layouts, timelines, etc, AND you can pull in data from other sheets for some really amazing applications.
Here are just three of the many ways I'm use Airtable to make my daily life as a drama teacher easier.
There's been a lot of talk lately about extracurricular activities that ask for an all-or-nothing commitment from students. But where does it stop being the fault of the teachers, and start becoming the responsibility of parents and students to choose?
When I was in high school, my gym teacher aggressively tried to recruit me to play lacrosse. I enjoyed it in class, but athletics where I attended tenth grade were daily after school, and I wasn't about to give up drama club from 2:05-4:30 every Tuesday and Thursday to play a sport. I was still able to serve as president of the National Honors Society, edit the student literary magazine, serve as my homeroom rep, and attend Monday meetings of the art club. And I held down twenty hours a week working retail, participated in Venture Scouting, and earned my Girl Scout Gold Award. I just couldn't play lacrosse.
Looking back I sometimes wonder if that was the right choice. I recently found out that The Savannah College of Art and Design (where I earned my BFA in Performing Arts) has a really good lacrosse team and that--had I been good enough-- I might have been able to get a scholarship instead of swimming in student loan debt for ten years after graduating. But playing lacrosse would have meant giving up so much more, and given the path I chose, those hours of rehearsal provided an education more valuable than being debt-free a few years earlier.
This post breaks down how I used a Trello Gold membership (less than $60 a year) to make a flexible digital lesson planner. I use Trello boards for project management for theatre productions as well as a number of other personal projects, so I find a Gold membership to have value beyond replacing the price of a snazzy lesson planner. When I consider the fact that my colleagues spend about as much on their Erin Condren planners and can't even attach Google documents, I think it's worth the cost. The real reason I wanted to go digital was for the ability to adapt without burning a whole in a paper planner with my eraser. Surprise pep rally? I can just drag and drop my activities to another day of the week!
After upgrading your free membership to Trello Gold, which allows three Power-Ups to be used (if you want more, you can use Trello Business for $120 a year), you will need to add these three upgrades:
You've seen the meme-- there's even a Netflix series based on it. Someone attempts to create a thing they found on Pinterest and posts the disastrous results side-by-side with the caption "Nailed It!" It happened when I attempted to make those cookie cups that were going around five years ago by putting dough on the bottom of a muffin tin.
I was actually successful this time! After finding multiple pins suggesting I use foam noodles to make columns, I knew I had to give it a try. But we couldn't just do the project straight off of Pinterest. For one, most of the tutorials had us making twisted columns, and we needed straight fluting for our Greek set. Secondly, we have an 18ft proscenium to dwarf anything we put on stage. We needed to make them MUCH bigger.
We began with Sakrete tubes which, by the way, are not actually standard in size.
This winter I directed The Wizard of Oz with our show choir director. While not abandoning the traditional elements, we added a Victorian/Steampunk influence. The Tinman dressed as a nineteenth century woodsman, the Lion wore a sash instead of a medieval robe for "King of the Forest" and the Emerald City was filled with corsets, tailcoats, and top-hats.
We moved our annual musical to an earlier date so we could build set over Christmas Break (I did so with walking pneumonia, by the way) and so we would be done a month before the show choir (read: half our cast) started competition season.
Amy is a drama teacher with an M.Ed. in Secondary Education, ELA, teaching in the suburbs of Birmingham, AL.