Sunday, August 28, 2011

I Am Poems

There is a poem template called "I am poems." Its pretty commonly used in schools I think. I did it with 2 of my classes this summer. It went pretty well. I love more creative ways at trying to learn about students and their lives other than just having them write about themselves. Here is the template of the I am poem and below is my I am poem. I was going to post some of my students poems but I think its a little too personal and I did not ask their permission.


I am (two special characteristics)
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I wonder (something you are actually curious about)
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I hear (an imaginary sound)
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I see (an imaginary sight)
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I want (an actual desire)
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I am (the first line of the poem restated)
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I pretend (something you pretend to do)
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I feel (a feeling about something imaginary)
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I worry (something that really bothers you)
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I cry (something that makes you very sad)
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I am (the first line of the poem repeated)
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I believe (something you believe in)
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I dream (something you actually dream about)
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I try (something you make an effort to do)
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I hope (something you actually hope for)
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I am (the first line of the poem repeated)

I am Megan Ibarra
I am weird and artistic
I wonder how sound really comes out of a radio.
I hear the rain patter on my windowsill
I see the faces of my smiling students
I want to get married
I am weird and artistic
I pretend that I am on my grandpop's farm.
I feel excited
I worry about money too much
I cry when I hear about children who are abused
I am weird and artistic
I believe that God is always with me
I dream that my neighborhood would be a safe place for everyone
I try to cook
I hope to see my nephew soon
I am weird and artistic.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

1 Year of Job Searching and Some Numbers

Aug 23rd officially marks 1 year that I have been job searching since moving to Los Angeles. Now of course I have not been unemployed for a year, praise the Lord. Nor have I been job searching that entire time. But a majority of the year I have been either unemployed or partially employed and looking for more part time or full time work. Although it is not my favorite way to be spending my time, I have accepted that it is necessary to continue to pursue what I love to do and trust God that he will provide for my needs. Some days it’s really hard and discouraging, while others it just seems like such a normal part of my routine that I hardly even think about it.

I thought it would be fun to list some statistics of my job searching. I keep a pretty detailed spreadsheet of jobs that I have applied for so that I can keep track of them and be able to follow up. I’m not trying to brag about my job searching efforts (because if I was so good at it, I would be fully employed by now.) I just think it would be fun to look back at the year

Since Aug 23rd 2010

Total jobs applied for


Versions of my resume




Jobs held


Job offers

10 (including the ones I took)

Full time jobs applied for

around 30

Jobs that I really wanted that were perfect for me that I didn’t get


Office jobs applied to


After school programs


Jobs in schools/ teaching assistant type jobs


Nanny jobs


Arts related jobs


The rest are non profits other jobs that I didn’t want to categorize


Months in which I did NOT apply for any jobs


Pay range of jobs I have applied for

$9 per hour-45K a year

Applied for from Craig’s list




Arts for LA


Career builder


Nonprofit coop




Lausd website


A few things surprised me as I was making this today.

  1. Out of 232, only about 30 of them are full time jobs. That means I am not qualified for a lot jobs in the field I want to be in and there are just not a lot of full time jobs available in the jobs that I want to be in.

    I have only applied for 13 arts related jobs, and not all of those are working with kids. This saddens me for the same reasons as above.

Maybe there is something fundamentally wrong with the way that I am going about this or maybe I am being too picky in what I am applying for. As I have prayed about this I felt like God is still pushing me to do what I love. There have been many times I have considered settling for a full time office job but I have not felt like it is the time to do that yet.

But I have also been thinking more long term about what I steps I need to take to really build these little jobs into a career. Two things stand out to me: Going back to school to get my teaching credential or masters in theatre. Both of which do not sound appealing whatsoever at the moment. But one of those looks like the path that I will eventually need to take at some point. I am not sure which yet.

Although this process may seem discouraging when you look at the statistics there are many things to be grateful to God about throughout this process:

  1. He has given me work when others have none at all
  2. He has sustained me financially, always having enough money for everything I need and more. Most of year I have been spending more than I make, given that my expenses are just more than I make right now. I am reminded of the miracle of the fish and loaves where God multiplies what has been given. Somehow there has always been enough money in my bank account. It is really a miracle when I take the time to look back.
  3. Even in the midst of job insecurity, the Lord has provided the resources for me to be able to buy a car after my old car was totaled in an accident earlier this year.
  4. Of the 5 jobs I have held, 4 have been working with kids. It has been really life giving for me to be around kids again as it was very difficult for me the 2 years that I was at the insurance company.
  5. Of the 5 jobs I have held, 3 have involved being able to teach theatre in some capacity. I have been able to develop my theatre lessons and see students express their uniqueness through the arts.
  6. This summer I have been fully employed. Even though I was fundraising partially, God found a way to give me full time employment through 2 jobs.
  7. This summer I was almost completely teaching theatre between my two jobs. Both of which were great experiences.
  8. Because I have had some free time, I have been able to volunteer at Inner City Arts. This nonprofit has really captured my heart, taught me so much about arts education, and fueled my passions for creative teaching.
  9. I have learned more how to trust God with my finances. (A lesson that is always in progress for me.) I have seen how God really cares about the thing I am passionate about and wants to provide ways for me succeed in a career of teaching theatre.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Shakespeare Week

I gave myself a challenge of doing a Shakespeare week with my students. I thought it would be good to put on my resume and a challenge for the kids.

Older Group-4-5th

I tried to find ways to simplify the language or find some sort of Shakespeare for kids book. I found one on Amazon but I didn’t want to pay for it. So I decided to just throw them into the Shakespeare deep end with the original language and see how they did. I put together two short scenes, one for the girls and one for the guys. The guy’s scene was from Romeo and Juliet. It was the few lines right before Mercuito is stabbed. I told them the basic storyline up until that point. The scene that I printed out had the original language and modern translation off to the side to help them. I read it with them and went through what each line meant. Then I had them read it and act it out. Some of them did remarkably well with the language. Other struggled, which I expected but I give them props for trying. There was not too much grumbling or “this is so boring.” All the boys wanted to be Romeo even though he doesn’t actually fight in this part of the scene that I gave them.

The girl’s scene I picked was from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was a Helena/Hermia scene at the beginning of the play. Midsummer is one of my favorite Shakespeares, but probably because I was in it in high school. But I realized that Midsummer is a very confusing play. So I only explained the Hermia/Lysander and Helena/ Demertius part of the play. And only how it begins, the love triangle at the beginning is hard enough to understand. I bribed them with candy to answer questions about what they remembered from the play and the scene they practiced. One the third day of going over these scenes I gave them the challenge that if they could memorize one of the long lines in one of the scenes I would give them a packet of Oreos. And believe it or not, in a 30 minuet class, I had one student who memorized Mercutio’s “Good King of Cats” line. I was very impressed.

I think if I were to do it again I would want to find something that just had parts of the real language. It was cool to give them the whole scene in the original language so that they really got a feel for the poetry, but reading an entire scene for some was a bit painful. It was hard to get to the acting part because there was so much focus on just reading the words. But it was my first time teaching this and I was impressed but what they could do and their attitude toward it.

The little guys K-1, and 1-2

I debated for a long time doing anything Shakespeare with the little guys. I wanted to do something from Midsummer because fairies seem exciting and enchanting, but Midsummer is just too complicated. When going through the plays, most Shakespeare’s plays are not exactly “G” rated content. I finally settled on The Tempest because it has dog chase scene, magic, and fairies. I found a book in the library that was kind of like comic book Shakespeare. But because the pictures where small I decided to just find some clip art for each character and tell them the story through like little story board. Shakespeare’s characters have very difficult names. I was really impressed by their ability to remember almost all the names. I think the visuals really helped. The first day I told them the story using the clip art of the different characters and the next day I asked them questions about the story and who ever answered correctly got to act out the play. It went pretty well except they hate the Miranda and Ferdinand getting married part. It’s the least amount of love story I could find in a Shakespeare comedy.

Overall it wasn't perfect Shakespeare week but they got some exposure and it was good practice for me as teacher to see what worked and did not work.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Finally: WJPK in Review

“Two hearts one dream, two hearts one story”

“The only mistake I can make is not to chase it.”

“Dreams that give us space”

What we created

These are a few quotes from the original songs, sketches, and poems from this year’s production of When Justice and Peace Kiss. This summer 10 adult artists and 25 high school youth came together to create 5 original songs, 3 dances, 2 monologues, 2 sketches, 2 spoken word pieces, 2 poems, and 4 paintings around the theme of our hopes and dreams. Throughout this program youth were able to express dreams that have been broken in the past, ways they have seen God fulfill their dreams, and dreams that they have for their future. All of the groups were really excited to perform in the different artistic mediums. The students gave themselves fully to the rehearsal process and even more to the performance. After four weeks of creating and rehearsing, we held a culminating performance at a local theater in which we invited family and the community to come see the work that we created. It was a wonderful night and many were impressed at the quality of art these students brought forth.

My Passions Come Alive

My role in the project was to lead the team of adult artists and teachers, write and perform my own monologue, and write and direct the theater sketch for the youth. The combination of these experiences really highlighted my passions and talents, making it a really life giving and joyful summer. The students that I worked with in the theatre group all had a common dream of wanting to graduate and make their parents proud. The sketch that we wrote was about one student’s struggle to graduate and people encouraging and discouraging him along the way. The students were very excited to learn their lines and were almost completely memorized after the first rehearsal. The one student that was a little hesitant on performing did a fabulous job and thanked me after the performance for pushing him to do it.

We had an amazing team of adult artists who were really dedicated to teaching the youth. It was wonderful to lead them as they discovered what it means to be a Christian that creates engaging art. It was great for me to care for and work with a team of peers who have similar passions to my own.

Although it was a challenge to plunge into the world of performing again, it was great to work out those acting muscles for myself. I loved the experience of creating a character that is very different from me but still able to express dreams that I have. I challenged myself with trying a New Jersey accent which turned out to be really fun. The monologue was about a women who cared about kid's stories and wanted the world to hear them through songs that she wrote.

What I am most passionate about is giving young people an outlet to express themselves artistically and have their voice be heard. This summer fully encapsulated that passion and desire for me.

One of the youth songs
Youth dance piece
The drama group
Part of a poetry sequence of the skit

My monologue

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Unusual Sperheroes

Recently, I led a superhero themed theatre class. First we practiced how common superheroes would walk like Spiderman, Hulk, Batman, Iron Man. Then we imagined how some unheard of superheroes might walk like Toilet Man (who saves the world from clogged toilets), Recycle Woman, and Alarm Clock Man (who saves the world from late sleepers).

I then let them create their own superheroes and asked them to come up with a superhero name, a super power, and what they save the world from.

Here are the most memorable ones:

Swagga Man- he gives people swagga who don’t have any.

I forget what the name of the superhero was, but there super power was that every time they burped a tornado would happen.

Pretty Girl- Her super power was to bring makeup to girls to make them pretty. (Really! Where are these kids getting this from so young?)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Small moments that matter to a theatre teacher

Some time it’s just those little moments or one liners from my students that make all of problems and exhaustion worth it.

This summer I have had the opportunity to teach theatre classes in the day summer camp that I work at. One of the activities that I do is called “Name and Movement.” I usually do this activity at the beginning of the week when I have new students to help me learn their name. Everyone stands in a circle. One person says their name and a short movement, gesture, or action to go along with that movement. The entire class then repeats that name and movement. You go around the circle until everyone has had a chance to do the name and movement. I tell my shy students that if they can’t think of a movement, to just do a thumbs up or wave.

I had this one kindergarten girl who was not shy with group activities but anything she had to do individually, she would hide behind her hat. Name and Movement was a hard activity for her. The first week she wouldn’t do anything, say her name or do the movement. The next week I got her to just do a thumbs up and the class repeated the movement. The third week, I got her to barely whisper her name from underneath her hat. The fourth week, without hesitation she smiled, said her name with her head up, and gave a thumbs up gesture on her own. It may seem like a small accomplishment, but to me it was a big deal. I want theatre to be a place where kids feel free to express themselves even if it’s only their name and little action. It was so cool to see this student progress as finally felt safe enough to proudly say her name and not feel ashamed to have the class’s attention on her. I was so proud of her.