Cesar Rosales is a natural performer. He can make the most mundane task funny. When taking individual class photos one day, Cesar didn't like how his hair looked after his recent haircut. He asked us to wait while he put his hoodie on to cover his hair. What followed was a comical, dramatic positioning of his hoodie so that his ears stuck out like a monkey. He indicated he was ready for his photo, and even made a monkey face to compliment the ears. Cesar got laughs from his classmates daily, but not in an obnoxious way. This kid has some serious empathy for his classmates, and looked out for them as much as he laughed with them.
If I had to choose someone from the group that I thought was a fighter, I would not have chosen Cesar. His idea for a show about boxing surprised us - and the fact that he is a boxer surprised us even more!
One of the main challenges of this project was managing the number of students. Twenty eight students is the largest group we have podcasted with at one time. One of our strategies was to break them into 7 pods of 4 students each. Breaking up friend groups was unpopular but necessary to balance out the skill levels among the groups. Some students were more unhappy with this than others, and asked us to please let them work with their friends instead of the "lame" groups we had assigned. When you work with teens, getting called "lame" regularly is par for the course. Betsy and I were undeterred.
Cesar Rosales and Natalia Arjon kept gravitating towards one and other because they were friends, and also because they were both such chatterboxes! Betsy and I urged them to get back to their groups. almost daily. "Your groups need you!" we asserted. And it was true. Neither Natalia nor Cesar ever lacked for words. The writers in their respective groups needed their assistance. But they remained planted in their neighboring seats, chatting away. Unfortunately, our urging of the students to remain in their assigned groups was often met with a whiny, "But, Missssss . . . " If I had a dollar for every time we heard that phrase, we could fund out program for a year!
Betsy gave these two an option: "You can work together, but you have to get the story right."
Cesar wanted to talk about boxing. Interestingly, his angle was not a first person narrative, but an interview. We were thrilled.
Knock 'em Down or Raise 'em Up?
Cesar is a boxer, and a great one. Instead of keeping the spotlight on himself, he chose to highlight someone else. He raised up his peer with the podcasting platform to which he had access. Cesar invited his friend, fellow eight grader and fellow boxer, Alejandro Morales, to interview him about his amateur boxing career.
We were impressed that Cesar was conscious of sharing the spotlight, and also with the fact that Natalie rose to the challenge. Instead of her shining the light on her friend, Cesar, she informs the listener that she's heard Cesar talk about boxing enough! And that it's time to hear someone else's perspective.
These two LOVE to talk. Betsy let them know that this is not necessarily a bad thing! Talking is a skill, and, if they learned to focus their charisma, it can be harnessed for good!