Archive for Teaching

Class in Session

By guest blogger, Carolyn Cook.

I feel like such an idiot

Brave soul that I am, I’ve ventured into new career territory this fall, and I’m already wishing I’d bought a career GPS. Or at least a map.

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be teaching a university class two days a week, and two high school classes one day a week.  I haven’t actually taught a class yet, but that hasn’t stopped me from developing a severe case of impostor syndrome.

Sure, I know the material.

But that doesn’t mean I can teach it! It certainly doesn’t mean I can write a SYLLABUS for it, for heaven’s sake.  Come to think of it, writing a syllabus scares me a lot more than teaching the class does, because it requires actual planning. This is a problem, because (a.) I don’t like planning, and (b.) I’m going to be teaching Voice and Speech for the Actor, and I’d really like to meet my students and evaluate their needs before I decide what we’re going to be doing on a Tuesday afternoon eight weeks from now.

My syllabus has to contain information about course objectives, homework assignments (Use Your Voice! Speak!), and plagiarism, which is also a problem because I’m planning to lift much of the content from the department chair’s most recent syllabus. (If I give him credit, am I cheating?)

I am going to love my students; I always love acting students. 

I love their breakthrough moments, their discoveries, their growth.  But I usually teach outside of academe.  Those students know I’m a professional actor, and they want to learn what I know.

These new students are going to need even more. They are going to need academic credit.  And to get that credit, they are going to need HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENTS, and they are going to need GRADES. But before anything else, they are going to need a SYLLABUS.

Oh heavens.  What have I gotten myself into?

This is what hanging out with a bunch of risk-takers will get you, folks.  Watch out!

This post first appeared on True Voices’ RiskADay blog project, which has now concluded.

 is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to a raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship. She is now posting her thoughts on her own blog here at

PS While most of the pictures on this site were taken Laura Overstreet Biering (me), this one was not, and I know not who the photographer is. Since it was taken quite a while ago, and it is of my father, Robert Overstreet, doing what he loved best in all the world, teaching, I took the liberty of posting it. If you know who the photographer is, please let me know. I would be happy to give credit where credit is due!

Game Change

By Carolyn Cook

I’m going to take a big risk this fall, and change my career from performing to teaching. I might do this for three months, and I might keep doing it longer, depending on how it works out.

I’m going to teach classes and coach students in my field, acting. I hope it will be deeply rewarding to explore my craft in a new way. But I really don’t know what’s going to happen. Right now, all I know is that I want more freedom to create my own work schedule, so that I can savor my daughter’s teen years, my mother’s final years, my marriage, and my own personal growth.

I don’t want to miss the opportunity to know my child before she grows up and leaves us.  I want to have adventures with her.  I want to get out of her way and let her have adventures on her own.  I want to be there when she needs me, and leave her alone when she doesn’t.

I don’t want to squeeze my mother into my busy schedule. I want to treasure her while she can still be present with us, before her mind completely slips away. Who knows how long that will be?

And I don’t want to lose touch with my husband, whom I literally do not see for days on end when I’m doing a show. Our schedules are so different that he’s asleep before I get home at night and gone before I get up in the morning.

I know that these are all great reasons to make a change. I can hear you saying, “This isn’t a risk, honey, it’s a no-brainer.” Well, maybe. But I also know that I feed on the intellectual challenge, powetic power, physical craft, and communal experience of the theatre. I can’t expect any of the people I love to feed me the way theatre does.  If I shift my work to spend time with my loved ones, I risk asking too much of them and souring our relationships.

So it’s scary, this decision to do something different for a while. I’m afraid I’ll miss the stimulation of acting. I’m afraid I won’t be very good at teaching. More than anything, I’m afraid I’ll butt heads with someone I love and do more harm than good.  But I’m taking the risk. Something deep inside is calling me to change my game.

This post first appeared on my Risk-A-Day blog.

  is a sometimes peaceful, sometimes frazzled individual who works to raise a daughter, build a marriage, and explore the human condition through theatre, art, music, history, literature, and relationship.