Drama is already very cool by nature, so as a Drama teacher as a secondary school subject or a vocational one, you already have one up on some of the other teachers on your campus! Nevertheless, each educator will have to work hard if they want to impress their class of pupils, and producing subject matter that everyone enjoys teaching and learning about can be quite tough.
Whether you're employed to teach in a secondary school, you are teaching drama as a vocational subject to children and adults in the community, or you a certified teacher in a kindergarten, you will need to brush up on your teaching skills and earn respect if you want a successful career in teaching Drama. To obtain the 'cool' status when working with children, in particular, you must demonstrate excellence in early childhood teaching methods to become a teacher that they like and look up to. Who said that a career in teaching was easy?!
How about picking up some handy tips on becoming a drama teacher of merit?
- Drama is quite a cool subject because students see it as an opportunity to express themselves. Photo credit: kargaltsev on VisualHunt
Therefore, here are some tips on how to create interesting and exciting Drama lessons for every student that enters your classroom during the school year or attends one of your workshops.
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What Does Drama In Pedagogy Entail?
Drama, in the sense of acting lessons and drama workshops, is fun and engaging and classes are usually attended because someone gifted has a passion for doing them as either a hobby or they want to pursue it as a profession. But is Drama, the educational subject, as attractive for students of middle school or higher education?
Drama is offered nationally as a High school, college or university both offering broad education programs to keep pupils interested and invigorated by the subject. Younger students will undoubtedly touch upon dramatic studies as part of their English or Literacy lessons (even pre-teens learn about Shakespeare's plays as they dabble with more advanced Literature) whilst older students in higher education also have various pathways of study to pursue in the field of Drama. As such, Drama is a faculty that is rightly given a fair amount of attention by the national board and Department of Education. Meanwhile, some aspiring teachers don't feel that it is recognized as the valuable certification program that it is.
Drama at GCSE level or high school level is designed to help pupils respond to drama by exploring performance texts, understanding their contexts (historical, social and cultural), developing theatrical skills, communicating ideas, contributing creatively to theatrical performances and developing an awareness of roles and processes undertaken in contemporary professional theatre.
Drama at A Level or college level meanwhile has a curriculum that is intended to help pupils develop and apply analysis to drama and theatre, understand theoretical research and practical exploration in informing themselves about drama and theatre, understand how contextual elements influence drama and theatre, understand the practices used in 21st-century theatre-making, and participate in theatre activities and as part of an audience.
Learn more about becoming a drama teacher in a public or private school...
How To Make Topics More Interesting?
Activities For Classes
As a teacher, you cannot simply design your lessons around reading, analyzing and performing the texts set out by the curriculum. There has to be more to your lessons than that if you want your students to gain anything from them!
As a certified teacher, you must find ways to make some of the more tedious tasks much more interesting for your pupils, and dare we say 'cool,' 'neat' or 'sick' (in their language). How great would it be to be remembered by your alumni of students in years to come as the 'cool Drama teacher'?
Creating Colourful, Noisy And Energetic Lessons For Elementary Level Pupils
Obviously, it is easier to prepare fun activities for primary (or prep school children, if you work in a private school as opposed to a public school), as younger students will be imaginative with basic games and concepts and more open to creativity. Therefore, you could use music and singing to make the teaching of plays more interesting. Why not try borrowing some equipment from the music teacher and allowing each pupil to play a part with their own instrument?
In fact, many other departments could prove useful for your teacher preparation and offer their own guidance and tips on meeting your school's shared goals, like the Psychology, Humanities, Philosophy and Literature leaders. Drama offers pupils a range of basic skills that can be applied across the curricula, so you may even find links between your lessons and those of the Biology, Chemistry and Physics classes, so keep the Science teacher on your side!
Discover where else you could ply your skills as a drama teacher...
- Encouraging children to be creative can really help to get the message of the lesson across. Photo credit: A. Strakey on VisualHunt
Similarly, preparing visuals can be very beneficial in lessons, especially for those younger age groups. Children will respond better to images and colour than to plain text on a page, so try reading from a picture book or bringing a story to life in the classroom using props and costumes. Puppets are also a great way to capture their attention during those challenging days in your teaching career.
If teaching Drama to young pupils, there are endless opportunities to make lessons fun, even in the run up to exams.
Even though there may be times when your pupils need to get their heads down, try to organize some energy-packed activities at least once every fortnight to keep the momentum going, ensure they remain interested in the subject and look forward to your next class.
Cool vs. Cringe: Finding The Balance
For students in higher education or at universities, you may need to seriously up your game. Play games in class and risk losing all credibility for treating them like children (which, of course, they're not!) but make lessons too grown up, and they might lose interest in the subject matter altogether. In short, you can't win.
It is a very tough balancing act with teenagers - so be prepared for some disheartening lessons in the life of a teacher!
But when you do get it right, it is all the more satisfying and rewarding!
If studying classical drama, why not ask your class to bring the stories up to date and to re-write scenes as modern-day scenarios to submit as course work?
Or, to encourage confidence in performing, you could ask those happy to do so to write some poetry or lyrics and perform them on stage or in the classroom in front of their peers. To get stir up some competition, you could turn it into a game with some members of the class acting as the judging panel... J-Hud, eat your heart out!
- Putting on plays can ensure your students build their confidence performing. Source: Cyrus Crossan, Unsplash
Stratford-upon-Avon is one of the best places you can go to bring the works of Shakespeare to life for your Drama students.
On a trip to the acclaimed playwright's hometown, you can go backstage at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), watch a performance of some of his famous plays, take part in a Drama workshop and visit some key sites in the writer's life.
School Theatre Trips
If you are able to take your students to a theatre, it can make due for a perfect school trip. Your students can get to see professional actors in their element. It'll be a trip to remember.
Alternatively, there are a significant number of small to large theatre productions taking place all across the capital. You could see a play by Chekhov or a brand new masterpiece.
If you don't have the budget to spend on school trips, then you might like to organize a workshop at your own school to bring a bit of variety to the semester. Theatre Workshops visit schools with fun-filled activity workshops led by trained actors. Pupils can watch performances, be taught acting tips like breathing exercises, and get a chance to stand up on stage themselves too.
If you are limited to online teaching jobs, you can still do activities such as costume-making with your students - they will have to buy their own supplies - or three-way conference calls with a guest actor or actress.
- Teach your students the skills to succeed in drama. Source: Chandler Media, Unsplash
What to Do in Your First Drama Lesson?
Your first class at the start of the year can be the most nerve-wracking for you and your students. For the most part, students have no idea what to expect, especially if it is their first-ever dream class. Having a plan for your first drama class can help you have a smooth start and allow your students to get more comfortable. There is a number of things you do to unite your students to have a great class. We'll list some tips down below.
Introduce Yourself - Chances are students don't know who you are. It's important to let them know your background and why you got into teaching. You don't have to give them your life story, but a brief introduction can work just fine.
Have The Students Introduce Themselves - Take turns to have each student say their name. It can be nerve-wracking for the kids, but it's a great way for everyone to share their names. You can also have them share why they wanted to take a drama class.
Set the Expectation - setting the expectation can go overlooked by some teachers, but it gives students the right information. They'll know what you're looking for and how to score high in your class. It just makes your class easier when you set the expectation for the rest of the year.
Easy Activities - The first lesson can be hard enough for some students. Jumping right into the classroom material can be a bit much. We're not saying you can teach right away, but there is a great way to introduce drama material. Use easy activities to get students ready. These activities can sometimes be called icebreakers.
What Are Drama IceBreakers?
Drama Icebreakers are exactly what they sound like. They can get students into acting in an easy way. Icebreakers are perfect for a first-class because they are usually not too intense, and it can be something everyone gets started with. They can also be used to teach new concepts. Instead of speaking out new ideas or theories, students can play icebreakers to introduce new material. Here are some games to use for Icebreakers.
Time Bomb Name Game - This icebreaker is perfect for your first-day class while everyone is still learning names. The time bomb is fun and quick. It also brings everyone interacting with one another. One student starts with a tennis ball in their hand. Next, they throw the tennis ball at one of their students. The new person with the ball has to say someone's name within 2 seconds or there out. Continue until one person is left. You can't repeat names.
Shoes - It can be the perfect icebreaker for the first day. Each student will be prompted not to speak during the whole icebreaker. Next, have your students organize something amongst themselves. this could be hair length, shirt colour or even shoe size. It's a great game for anyone.
There are lots of icebreaker games out there to get your class excited about new materials. They also make a good way to introduce kids to drama. Try them out for yourself. There are many icebreaker games out there that can lead your students up for success. Even get creative and make up your own games. There lots of ideas when it comes to icebreakers. Just make them easy and something that the whole class can take part in. Not just a group of kids at a time. You want everyone to be included.
- Icebreaker games are perfect for the first drama class of the year. Source: William Bayreuther, Unsplash
Other Lesson Tips for Drama Teachers
Drama class can be a great topic to teach. It's a lot of fun to see students improve on their acting skills as well as take part in their plays and skits. Deciding on lessons and coming up with activities isn't the only activity you do in a day. There are a few other tips we add to ensure you have a great drama lesson. All teachers, including drama teachers, have other duties outside their regular classes that help with things behind the scenes. Here are some tips we can offer.
Stay Organized - It's one of the best tips we can give you. being organized for each lesson always makes your job as a teacher easier. You'll be prepared for every class. Staying organized does require some effort, and with the help of some tools, you'll be well on your way. Using a calendar or some type of schedule can help you keep track of dates. For your papers, either online or physical copies, it's beneficial to some type of order system. Buying binders and file cabinets can help you stay on top of everything. For your information online, use folders to organize documents.
Time For Yourself - It can be a lot of work as a drama teacher. You have to put in the time during class interacting with each class to your fullest. A lot of drama teachers are also involved in extra-circulars such as plays for schools. It can be mentally and physically exhausting at the end of the day. This is why we always say take care of yourself. It would help if you found a way to de-stress at the end of the day. It could be going for a walk, working out or anything else you like to do. You just need to de-stress.
Things Not To Do As A Drama Teacher
Naturally, Drama lessons can cry out for a bit of screen time, even more so if you don't have the budget to physically go and watch some plays being performed on stage. That said, it is really important that you limit how much television you watch during lessons so as not to let your class get distracted from what it is you are trying to teach them.
Watching approved adaptations of classical plays on screen can be very beneficial in this content area. Still, you might like to choose individual scenes that support your lesson to show rather than putting on an entire production that takes up an entire hour. To support the teaching of old plays, you might also like to try recreating them yourselves or, if time and finances allow, going to see a version of the play being performed by other establishments or by acting professionals.
- Don't rely too heavily on television to teach your lessons for you. Photo credit: flash. pro on Visualhunt.com
Secondly, while it can be tempting to sit up all evening sourcing costumes, painting props and cut-up cue cards, try not to spend too much of your spare time on details. You need to stop at times and think: "will this enhance the teaching and learning?".
Remember, there will be no remuneration or reward on top of your usual salary for putting in this extra effort, but if it makes you happy and you think that it benefits the class, then, by all means, do go ahead!
Finally, though it can be hard, try not to be offended by students who don't take your lessons seriously. This goes for teachers of all subjects, but as a Drama teacher who is often very much on show, it can be easy to take offence by comments made by pupils. As someone who has experience participating in drama lessons, you probably have developed quite a thick skin, but it is always worth remembering that any negativity isn't anything personal. It is just a way of acting up to their instructor for one reason or another.
In fact, these students can bring you the greatest sense of achievement in the job because if you manage to impress them over the course of your placement at their institution, you really have overcome a big hurdle. At the end of the day, you want to help your students succeed. As long as you're helping students with drama, you are doing the right thing as a teacher. Over the years, you'll continually get better and help your students strive. You're already on the right path to becoming a good drama teacher because you're researching to get better.
Continuing Education for Drama Teacher
Use these tips to get better as a drama teacher. There is a lot of tips mentioned above you can try out. Continuing to learn as a drama teacher can beneficial. There is maybe an activity, game, challenge or tip that you haven't heard of that can help your drama class. There are plenty of ways to learn more about drama teaching from the articles on Superprof, online, watching videos or even speaking with other drama teachers.
It's always good to never stop learning. Continuing education for drama teachers will ensure you're updated on all the latest practices for drama. You'll be able to serve your clients and you better. Follow our tips above to improve your drama lessons. The best time to start is now. Always wanting to learn more will set you apart from other drama teachers. You'll be able to work with your students in the best way possible.
Now discover why teachers choose to become drama instructors...