Many people joke about the quote, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” While George Bernard Shaw’s quote suggests that teaching is a job for people who cannot take action in life, the reality is that teachers' jobs are challenging, rewarding, and fundamental to the functioning of our modern society. Teachers do the very real job of teaching numeracy and literacy to students who need these basic skills to survive, they do the important work of being adult role models and mentors to young people. Teachers coach teams, run clubs, and staff schools where students learn things like independence and social skills.  

Pedagogy, in other words, is one of the most rewarding jobs to have. If you are considering a job in education - specifically drama and arts education - you will find yourself in a profession that is not only satisfying but rich with opportunities for growth. Drama is taught in every school, and can be one of the most important subjects for students to learn. Drama students learn self-confidence, creativity, and the basic skills for a future career in entertainment, the performing arts, business, education, and more. It is one of the few subjects that students can take creative risks and learn to think on their feet. As a teacher in the subject, you not only gain a stable profession but get the opportunity to apply your own performance skills in front of a daily audience.

How to Teach Drama

Learn more about becoming a drama teacher in Canada.

If your goal is to become a drama teacher in Canada, there several pathways you can follow toward setting up your own practice. You may want to become a certified teacher in your province, which would give you the credentials to teach in a publicly funded elementary or high school. You can teach your craft in a privately owned boutique school, focusing on students who are taking performing arts as an extracurricular or weekend activity. If you only want to teach part-time, consider being a private acting coach or tutor for those who want an instructor to learn with. Depending on your education goals and the amount of time you have to dedicate to teaching, you will surely find a pathway that is right for you.

Become a Certified Drama Teacher

teach dramatic arts
Become a drama teacher and become an arts educator. Source: Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those considering becoming a certified drama teacher should also remember that they will need another teachable subject if they want to work with older students. If you want to teach in an elementary or middle school, having expertise in another subject like English, Math, or Science is important - you will likely be teaching Drama alongside other subjects to a homeroom or to rotary classes. Remember that drama may just be one part of your teaching package at the beginning - becoming a standalone drama teacher takes time and patience!

To get your teaching certification, you will need a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) from one of many universities across Canada. To get into an Education program, you will likely need a Bachelors degree in the Arts or Sciences, with courses in subjects you would teach in school. With your B.Ed, you can apply for certification from your province’s governing body for teachers. If you start your teacher training in one province and move to another, be sure to look up what you will need to apply for to get licensed in your new province. 

Teacher training will typically involve learning pedagogical methods and organizational skills needed for teaching in a public school. You will study the curriculum in the grade levels you are learning, and develop units and lesson plans that will be suitable for different age groups.o  Teacher candidates will also do a practicum component in a real school - so if drama is your target teaching subject, be sure to request a position in a school with a dedicated drama teacher, or ask to do your practice teaching in the subject.

Find out how to create fun lessons for your drama classes.

Teaching in a Private Performing Arts School

If your goal is to work in a private school teaching weekend or evening classes, teaching certification may not be needed if you have professional experience in the performing arts. Of course, having your teacher certification can only enhance your resume, so get your certification if you can!

Teaching privately part-time is an excellent job if you have another job or are pursuing a career in the arts. You typically work only part of the day or on weekends, focusing on a single area like musical theory or acting. If you are working with young kids, you might find yourself playing more games; classes with older students tend to be more serious as they are choosing to take the course to enhance their own practice.

If you are having a hard time finding the right private school with hours that work for you, you may want to consider private tutoring. As a private tutor, you will work solely with a single person or small group. You organize your schedule and rates directly with your clients, and present your own program or focus on what your students want to work on. In many ways, you are running your own business, so don’t hesitate to go all out and develop your own brand! To get started, get your profile up on a site like Superprof, where thousands of drama tutors are posting their services all around the world.

What To Expect From Being A New Drama Teacher

As a new drama teacher, you can expect to find yourself poring over curriculum documents and searching for units and lesson plans on the internet to get some ideas of what you’d like to do with your classes. If you are teaching subjects other than drama as well, you will be looking through many different documents and ideas. Save yourself a lot of work and combine subjects when you can. For example, pair drama with a novel study you are doing in Language Arts and assigned drama based tasks to check students’ understanding of a story. Drama is one of the best subjects to teach in that it enables you to be creative as an instructor and find innovative ways to teach different skills. Use technology, games, scriptwriting, or role-play to make your classes more engaging.

If you are in a private school, your boss or manager will likely already have programs and courses made that you can simply follow. While it might seem restrictive to be limited to a program, having a pre-set curriculum can really help you to develop your instructional skills. Should you decide to tutor students privately, you will have plenty of room to be creative as long as you focus on the needs of your students.

How Much do Drama Teachers get Paid?

Teacher pay in Canada will vary from province to province, and remuneration will depend on your experience and academic background. In Ontario, for example, teacher salaries in public school boards are negotiated between the Ministry of Education and the various unions, though salary will generally be similar from board to board. An entry level teacher in a public board will make anywhere between $27,000-$35,000 or more to start, with increases every year. 

Private schools will offer competitive salaries, and part-time jobs will typically pay an hourly wage depending. As a tutor, you can set your own rate, but typically you would ask for payment between $25-$40 an hour (depending on your skill level).

Want to find out where you can work as a drama teacher? Read more.

How do you Teach a Drama Class?

In spite of popular opinion about the teaching profession, teaching drama isn’t all about rehearsing lines and performing plays. As with any other arts subject in the school system, there is craft and knowledge that is needed to teach the curriculum effectively. 

So while reading, writing, and text analysis will play a role, as a teacher, you can and should enable your students to unleash their creativity. Play games to get students outside of their comfort zones, use icebreakers to build a community of creative learners, and make analysis fun by having students interpret lines in different ways or sharing their ideas in oral formats. 

One of the main differences between Drama and other academic subjects is the structure of lessons and the layout of the classrooms. Unlike other classes, you can ditch the confines of desks, chairs, and a teacher at the front of the room and opt for a less structured, free flowing format. Performance requires lots of freedom for students to move as well as props to enable students to get into roles. Of course, you will have to fine tune your classroom management skills as well - with so much freedom it can get easy for things to get out of hand, especially with younger students. Have a plan, set rules and expectations for behaviour, and your students will truly enjoy the break from their typical classroom environment.

As with any other arts subject with a comprehensive cultural and historical background, you should also take advantage of the many field trips that are suitable for drama students. If you live near a large city, take your students to see a matinee musical performed by professionals, or the theatre troupe at your local university. Smaller towns usually have at least one theater group that may offer something appropriate for the age group you are teaching. If leaving the school is a challenge, bring in a guest speaker to run a workshop. There are numerous options to extend learning in drama - a quick search on the internet will reveal whatever is offered in your community.

New teachers are always full of new lesson plans and ideas to use in their classes, though it’s not uncommon to find the first couple years quite daunting. If you need some new ideas to for your drama class, keep reading for some fantastic activities that will get your students excited about drama.

Read about some reasons you should become a drama teacher.

How To Create Cool Drama Lessons?

Drama is already one of the ‘cool’ subjects - it’s creative, performative, and allows lots of freedom for students to show their learning. As a teacher, however, you must still find ways to keep your students serious in class and focused on their work as they would in subjects like Math or English, while also keeping class engaging. 

Preparing lessons for students in the primary and junior grades will obviously be easiest, since younger kids tend to be more imaginative and excited to play basic games or act in different roles. For little ones that are not yet reading, have plenty of costumes and props available for your students to dress up in, and give them scenes from picture books to act out. Follow up the activity by getting your students to paint their character or the scene they have acted out. You can also have fun with puppets: they can make their own, or get a set of finger puppets from your local toy store.

It can be a rewarding career working as a drama teacher.
Teaching Drama is challenging and fun. Source: Pexels

For middle and high school students, you may need to work a little harder. On one hand, you don’t want your students to feel embarrassed for playing games; you also don’t want class to be so serious that they lose interest. Keep your classes relevant by connecting dramatic activities to books they are already reading, or school-appropriate TV shows or movies they are familiar with. Use games like charades, let students work in small groups, and let students film their performances using a smartphone camera. Kids in the older age group will surprise you with their creativity and independence - with the right activities, they will love coming to your class.

School Trips for Drama

Another great thing about teaching drama is that you can take students on fantastic field trips. If you are lucky enough to live in a large city like Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Edmonton, or Vancouver, take your students to see a matinee show at your local theatre. Nothing is quite as inspiring as seeing a live show, especially when it stars talented actors. Look into local theatre festivals as well - you will likely find a Shakespeare or modern theatre festival happening in a town near you! In Ontario, for example, the town of Stratford offers a selection of Shakespearean plays (and more) every spring to fall; the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake hosts the famous Shaw festival every year.

If professional theatre is too pricey or too far from your location, check your local college or university for plays. You might even find a troupe of performers in your town - people love the theatre, and organizations produce shows in nearly every region. You can also bring a guest speaker into your school for an acting workshop.

Tips for Being a Great Drama Teacher

Teaching is tough work, and there are plenty of moments you may feel discouraged or exhausted from spending late nights planning lessons. Avoid making the mistakes of many a rookie teacher by following our tips.

  • Be strategic about how much screen time you give your students. Watching adaptations of plays you are studying can be incredibly beneficial: focus on specific scenes rather than watching the whole movie from start to finish. Make sure you have a learning outcome in mind if you ask students to watch something.
  • Don’t feel discouraged by students who do not take your class seriously. Unfortunately, drama has gotten a reputation for being an ‘easy’ subject, and you may get students who think they will get an easy ‘A’ for participating in a few activities. Hold your students accountable for completing their work, and don’t be offended by negative comments.
  • Make time for yourself - don’t spend all of your evenings during the week preparing your lessons. Being dedicated is important, but not at the expense of your mental and physical health. Find pre-made units online, limit yourself to planning for one or two evenings only, or follow the lead of a more experienced drama teacher who can share their expertise with you. If you need costumes or props, send letters home to parents asking for donations. 

Where Can you Work as a Drama Teacher?

You can obviously teach drama in schools, colleges, or universities, but educational institutions are not the only places you can find work. Check out private boutique arts schools that teach acting classes as an extracurricular, or help teach workshops at arts organizations or community centres with programs for kids. 

Another way to teach drama is to teach privately to individual households or clients. On sites like Superprof, you can easily set up a profile and offer your services. Many families prefer the convenience of having a private teacher, and many aspiring actors or drama students like having a coach to help them prepare for a role or audition. You can offer private classes, workshops or bespoke services. Check out Superprof today and find out how it all works!

Why Become A Drama Teacher?

If you’re still wondering whether becoming a drama teacher is right for you, keep reading for reasons to become an educator in the performing arts. Let’s check out some reasons you should take a career in teaching.

1. Influence the Next Generation

You probably remember from your younger years finding your way through school and figuring out what subjects you like. Teachers often play a critical role in igniting interest in subjects, and helping students choose their future pathways. This is where you as a teacher come in.

As a Drama teacher, you may be a key influence in helping students discover activities they turn to their entire life as a source of recreation or even an income. You may end up inspiring the next Julia Roberts, or instil in your students a love for theatre they will take into adulthood. 

2. Fulfill a Calling

By being a teacher, you may be fulfilling a calling to educate others. You may love learning and have deep reverence for education; perhaps you can’t explain it other than you have wanted to be a teacher your whole life. If you have a desire to work with young people and love sharing information creatively, then chances are that teaching is calling you! 

3. To Develop More Confidence

One of the greatest benefits of becoming a teacher is the personal growth you will get from being in front of a group of people every day and speaking. You will easily develop your confidence as a public speaker and influencer. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a pupil grasp a math concept and perform an algorithm or solve a problem independently, and knowing that you made it happen.

If you are teaching drama, then you will probably also gain skills in the act of performing by studying different methods and applying them to your work. You will have a rapt audience everyday who may pursue an interest in the performing arts thanks to your caring influence.

4. School Holidays

Let’s face it, teachers have great holidays and having a good holiday package is a draw for any professional. Of course, you will have very little flexibility with your time during the school year, but having time off at key points during the year and the beautiful summer months is pretty spectacular. You can have time to relax, or take up your own extracurriculars!

5. Gain an Easy Social Circle

make friends with coworkers
Make instant friends with your teaching colleagues! Source: Unsplash

As a teacher, you spend a lot of time with young people, but you also have a staff you can connect with and befriend in staff meetings, social gatherings, and time between classes. Nothing makes your day to day life more fun than having a solid crew of colleagues with whom you share many personal and career interests.

Have lunch with your colleagues, take walks, discuss teaching - the connections you make at work will often last for years.

6. Teaching Drama is Fun

We saved the best reason for last! Teaching is one of the most fun professions you can have. It’s fun to create activities and see them in action; it’s fun to share your passion with others. As a drama teacher, you teach one of the most fun subjects kids know about, and you don’t have to assess students solely on tests, exams or essays. The performing arts are fun, exciting, collaborative, and rewarding - impart your love for the arts with your students and your teaching days will fly by.

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Colleen

Colleen is a Toronto-based educator, mom and freelance writer who believes in lifelong learning and strong coffee.