A Visit from TIGER

A couple of years ago, I attended an Arts Integration Day at Plymouth State University.  There, I presented a hands-on workshop on Building Community through Music.  But before the workshops began, all the attendees and presenters were treated to a wonderful keynote speaker and a performance by TIGER: (Theater Integrating Guidance, Education, and Responsibility), a professional theatre company that writes and performs wonderful performances that raise awareness and promote positive thinking and behaviors around topics that concern children.  I witnessed the “Green TIGERRRR” and was wowed by the enthusiasm, music, script and overall performance.

Well,  fast forward to last month, our fourth grade team found ourselves in quite a predicament – we had money to spend from our PTA and this money was intended for school programs.  I was happy to suggest that TIGER come to visit our school and after perusing their repertoire, found one on bullying:  “A Bully Isn’t Your Friend…Yet!”  My team agreed and we booked it.  Last week TIGER came and put on yet another great performance for our 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders.

The performance was so well done and age appropriate.  The music is uplifting and thoughtful and the scenery is very basic so as not to interfere with the message of the play.  One very powerful thing about TIGER is that they use the words of actual children.  From their website:

Based entirely upon the anonymous writings of New Hampshire school children, a TIGER performance incorporates live actors, puppets, theatre, movement, and music to engage school audiences from K-8. By using childrens’ own words, TIGER enables children to hear their own voices as they step back from the experiences of bullying and the intolerance of individual differences to move into more positive social interactions at school and in their community.

They take each letter of the word TIGER and create vignettes around a theme so that students come away with a positive and memorable message.  For this TIGER performance, T=Tell and adult, I=I can say no, G=don’t Gossip, E=Exit when necessary, R=Respect.

One very poignant moment, and a tribute to the company, was when in the performance, the actors were portraying a bus scene where Ernie was an outcast and was being bullyed by all the other students and seemingly even the impatient and enabling bus driver.  Ernie couldn’t find a seat and was not welcomed by anyone on the bus.  He was made fun of, laughed at and ridiculed.  There he stood, with his backback over his shoulder about to cry.  All 350 students were silent.  The teachers were too.  My own eyes started to fill up.  We all wondered, “What is going to happen?”  In that moment, TIGER created the raw and uncomfortable emotion that is really felt in that type of situation.

Finally, Gladys got up and sat with someone else so that Ernie could sit.  You could hear a pin drop.  Then, in the goofy TIGER fashion of Ralph, the bus driver, the bus was driven off in a crazy, curvy, bumpy bus drive making the entire room roar in laughter.

At the end of the performance, our principal was gifted with a TIGER to keep in our school.  She then gave it first to my class so that we could start the tradition of passing it from room to room in a reminder of what we learned that day.

The performance for me was yet another reminder of how important and powerful the arts can be.  With this, the TIGER performance created a safe place for students to watch and reflect on the hard issue of bullying.  Certainly with the visualization, the music and the words, each person there was touched by an important message.  It’s my hope that some part of this performance sticks with our students and teachers, helping them to be more aware and proactive.

For more information about TIGER, visit: http://www.plymouth.edu/outreach/tiger/
Please watch my animoto of pictures taken during our school’s performance.

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Article by Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth Peterson has devoted her life to education and to reaching out to other teachers who want to remain inspired. Mrs. Peterson teaches fourth grade in Amesbury, Massachusetts and is the host of www.theinspiredclassroom.com. She holds an M.Ed. in Education, “Arts and Learning” and a C.A.G.S. degree with a focus in “Arts Leadership and Learning.” Elizabeth is author of Inspired by Listening, a teacher resource book that includes a method of music integration she has developed and implemented into her own teaching. She teaches workshops and courses on the integration of the arts into the curriculum and organizes the annual summer Teacher Art Retreat. Mrs. Peterson believes there is a love of active, integrated learning in all children and from their enthusiasm, teachers can shape great opportunities to learn.
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  1. Tori says:

    I was lucky enough to be one of the spellbound audience members. This performance was amazing and if you watch the Animoto clip you will see why. Look at the posture, body language and engagement of the students. Going to an assembly in May can be hard; I was glad it was going to be movement based. But, the children were not the movers, and were still an active part of the performance. I know this is true for a few reasons. With just a small amount of pre-teaching and about 15 minutes of reflection and comments in our classroom, I know that they internalized the message and the content. I would love to take all the credit and say that I am the best teacher in the world (NOT!) but I know that is not the truth. It was the collaboration of many; the teachers, the principal, the team that brought this show to us, the school adjustment counselor, the performers, the students and everyone who is part of the village that raises a child.
    We did not get a visit from the actual Tiger until the second to last day of school. How a child can pick out ONE new item in a classroom the moment they walk into it is beyond me! But true to form, many of the children exclaimed, “OH! We get to have the Tiger today!”. We spent a small amount of time with the Tiger but when I put the T.I.G.E.R. acronym on the board, (without any review) each letter was correctly identified with a skill they had learned. The power of theater and live performance were showcased that day in May.

  2. Julie says:

    How exciting to have such a wonderful performance with such a powerful message brought to your students. I would be interested to know how the follow-up went in different classrooms and how the message resonated with the students. Did the school adjustment counselor or guidance counselors do any related activities with the kids in the weeks following the performance? I will certainly delve into the TIGER website. This is a post I will share with my guidance department and PTO. A couple of weeks ago I served on an interview committee for a new assistant principal. One of the parents on the committee kept coming back to the need for a focus on pro-social skills. I think this idea would be very well received indeed…

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