All the world’s a stage… including your classroom! Do you know your upstage from your downstage? Your Shakespeare from your Stanivlaski? No matter where your drama knowledge is at, this blog series will guide you on your way to delivering your best drama sessions!
Divided into three parts, I’ll discuss:
A Guide to Teaching Drama Part 1 - Why
A Guide to Teaching Drama Part 2 - Before you Start
A Guide to Teaching Drama Part 3 - Easing Yourself In
A Guide to Teaching Drama Part 4 - Running a Session
As a special bonus, this blog includes a resource pack full of drama games and exercises that put the themes I’m discussing below into practice.
And so, without further ado ladies and gentlemen… (drum roll please)
Why we teach drama
My real question being: Why do we, or should we, actually teach drama, and not just recite plays?
Fun and play!
Fun and play!
It’s fun. It’s so much fun! (I promise, it will be fun!) This shouldn’t always be an afterthought when listing the benefits of anything. With fun comes:
Motivation for learning
Use of imagination
Strengthened memory recall
Children have an innate urge to play; mums and dads, doctors and nurses etc. (I remember making a school register for my teddies!) They utilise play as a way of making sense of environments and situations around them.
As they become older, it’s a method for exploration and emotional development. Children enjoy ‘practicing’ the adult roles they see around them and discovering similarities, differences and the varying responsibilities these bring.
Role-play (whether instructed to or not) creates enjoyable memories. Children love to retell the intricacies of that time they played hairdressers, or teachers, or goodies and baddies! If they enjoyed it, they’ll remember it.
We’re all big kids at heart. So put down your papers and play!
This is a biggy when discussing drama. I’ve found it is often the most popular reason for legitimising the teaching of the subject in schools. Take a look at the three Cs to understand why:
Turn-taking and acting together on stages helps children to understand how conversing works.
Listening when it’s not your turn to talk. You might hear the phrase ‘active listening’ - truly listening to the words your fellow actors are saying so as to understand why your character says what they say.
Overall oracy skills. Students will literally find their voice through creating and being different characters. The countless number of scripts and characters available will demonstrate the endless ways in which the voice and the words people say can be utilised.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Drama requires a real sense of togetherness and being one team in order for any sort of performance to be a successful one.
When devising or creating a piece negotiating, accepting and establishing ideas through discussion and problem solving helps children practise their collaborative skills. Who is the main character? Where are they? What are they doing?
Improvisation games and the rule of accepting - having to accept any idea and run with it - are excellent in aiding collaboration.
With practise, the familiarity of a drama class and the tasks students are asked to carry out each week will become the norm.
Students will learn to become comfortable with being uncomfortable (eg. being alone on stage),in turn building confidence and boosting self-esteem.
The three Cs also innately break down social barriers, working towards a happier, healthier class community.
“The gratification comes in the doing, not in the results” — James Dean
Actually studying drama, learning how to act, learning how to step inside someone else’s shoes is all about discovering your own capabilities and boundaries first. Simply putting on a play at Christmas is not studying drama. There is only a rush to an end result if you say there is.
Allow students the time to investigate and develop, have fun and experiment. It is here where children may really surprise you. Unknown skills come to light, hidden characteristics shine, unlikely partnerships or groupings might just click into place. Allow yourself to enjoy these moments - and utilise them across other classwork.
When you observe students’ realisation that drama does not always require an outside audience, but that it has just as much worth for themselves as for anybody watching - personally, that is the gratifying factor.
Convinced and want to know more? Download our resource pack to help you on your way:
Next week, join me in Part 2 to talk about how best to prep yourself for teaching drama.