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As a teacher with 29 years of experience, Mary Ruth McGinn has always sought innovative ways to meet the needs of each of her students. She has spent her entire career in schools where a majority of students speak English as a second language and where poverty significantly impacts the... Read more

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Reconnecting . . . Back on Track

After the opera production, when the authentic purpose for collaboration to accomplish the collective goal no longer exists, students sometimes struggle to re-establish their connection as a group and refocus their attention. They need to be reminded that it is the group effort that brought them to this point on the track. Each contributed to the whole in a unique and personal way, but the interdependence of the process enabled them to arrive at the station, their intended goal.

To bring students back together as a company, we present them with new challenges, exercises in which they must apply the skills they have acquired throughout the opera process to work as a team to achieve a common objective.

In silence, company members were asked to complete a series of tasks requiring physical connection and contact and no adult consultation.

“Find a way to connect your bodies so that all are touching and no one is left out.” Students held hands in a circle.

“Now connect in another way. Another. Now another.”

“Connect your bodies to form the capital letter A. Create an H. Now a V.”

The tasks became progressively more difficult and the students mastered them all without saying a word or directing one another. An hour passed quickly and the company was eager to continue. Now, individual company members could remember their true power when joining forces. They were back on track.

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Mary Ruth McGinn

About Mary Ruth McGinn

As a teacher with 29 years of experience, Mary Ruth McGinn has always sought innovative ways to meet the needs of each of her students. She has spent her entire career in schools where a majority of students speak English as a second language and where poverty significantly impacts the learning experiences and opportunities of students and their families.

Sixteen years ago she had an experience that changed her life and altered her professional path in a profound way. She attended training sessions at The Metropolitan Opera Guild in New York City, spent nine intense days living the process of creating an original opera and learned how to replicate the experience with her students. She then began creating opera with her students and using the process of creating the opera as a vehicle through which to teach curriculum and life skills. The authentic purpose for learning coupled with the arts provided the perfect stage on which to construct a love for life-long learning.

She currently teaches at Stedwick Elementary School in Montgomery Village, Maryland where she is creating another original opera with her third grade students.

Read more of Mary Ruth’s blog Learning for Real.

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