Jerald Bolden teaches, directs and choreographs during the global pandemic.

Pandemic Teaching Tip #5: Check In and Appreciation Circle

How do I teach theatre during a pandemic? *sigh*

We can help! We've been gathering pandemic teaching success stories from teachers and directors all over the country. Whether you're teaching over Zoom or socially distanced in a classroom, we have ideas for you!

Teaching Theatre During a Pandemic, with teacher and choreographer Jerald Bolden

Check In and Appreciation Circle

Teaching suggestion by Jerald Bolden, musical theatre performer, choreographer and teaching artist in Sacramento, California.

To keep my theatre teaching lively and fun during the pandemic, I always start my classes with a check-in and end them with an appreciation circle. I have discovered incorporating both of these exercises into my classes helps my students become more mentally healthy, happy, and aware.

During the check-in, I ask my students five questions and give them a few minutes to reflect.  During this quiet time I play an instrumental song. The questions I ask are:

1) How are you doing today?

2) How are you doing physically?

3) How are you doing mentally?

4) How are you doing spiritually?

5) What are you bringing to the table today?

I ask these questions because I believe the mind, body and spirit are all interconnected--they all work in tandem. For instance, if a student had a bad night’s sleep and woke up with a crook in their neck, they might have a challenging day in dance class from the fatigue or pain they may be experiencing.

In the last ten minutes of my classes, I like to finish with an appreciation circle. I ask my students what is one thing they appreciated in today’s class. I feel that appreciation is a form of social- and self-respect and that verbalizing it to your peers helps to internalize it.

In this pandemic, we are all experiencing a bombardment of information and ideas centered around the virus, the recent presidential election and all the things happening around the social justice movement. Discovering one thing to appreciate in each daily activity helps my students stay positive and inspired. The appreciation circle emphasizes the physical and emotional connection we would normally have while meeting in person.

Have your own pandemic teaching tip? Share it with us so we can pass it on! Email

Check out some of our other pandemic teaching tips:

#3 - Physicality and Storytelling

#4 - Pivoting and Adapting

Read more from Jerald, one of our early "Theatre People!"

More about Jerald:

Jerald Bolden is a musical theatre performer, choreographer and teaching artist. He has performed and choreographed at the Sacramento Theatre Company, Roseville Theatre Arts Academy, Hackmatack Playhouse, Sierra Repertory Theatre, San Joaquin Delta College, Woodminster Amphitheater and danced in the national and international tours of Sesame Street Live. He also adjudicates musical theatre performances for the Rita Moreno Awards Competition. Recently he was nominated for a 2019 Elly Award for Best Choreography. Jerald won two 2019 Elly Awards for Best Director and Best Overall Production for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. He earned a Master of Arts in Theater from Sacramento State University and is a proud member of Actors Equity Association.

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