While I am a trained special educator, teaching drama has always been my calling. I stumbled upon an opportunity in my first year of college when I was asked by a family friend to substitute for her in a drama class. The lesson plan was shared with me and since I had been on stage from a very young age, I felt very comfortable in the content. The next day I was called in for an interview. As a teenager, I have to be honest, the fact that they offered to pay me as well was very exciting.
I fell I love with what a structured drama class could do for kids, and for me and I have never looked back. Barring the year I took off when my sin was born, I have never stopped teaching drama. On this beautiful and ongoing journey as a drama educator I have come to learn a few tricks that work for me in a classroom, here are three.
A PUNCH OF ENERGY
The energy you carry into a space can be contagious. In a Drama class, especially, one needs a punch of energy. Having an engaged bunch can be a challenge as we're competing with the otherwise highly stimulated lives the kids have these days. So as a facilitator I've tried to always make it a point to jump into a class with a burst of energy. To help me with the stamina I need to keep this energy up, sometimes for over 12 hours in a day, an energy bar between lessons, splashing some cool water on my face, and most importantly, wearing comfortable clothes and shoes always helps!
PLAN TWICE AS MUCH
A drama session can vary in time from 30 mins to 60 mins, and sometimes even 2 hours. When one shares the activity for the day, sometimes it just does not resonate with the kids. Alternatively the group might go through a plan made for an hour long class at lightning speed. For days like these I always have a few tried and tested activities that I know will work up my sleeve. You can use a of variation voice exercises, movement exercises, improv games, creative exercises and plain old just for fun games that you can refer to off the cuff.
FACILITATE - PARTICIPATE
There are a gazillion teaching methods out there and I've tried a few. What works best for me is being a part of the activity as opposed to only always instructing it. I introduce a new activity and when kids have somewhat championed it, I ask for volunteers to run it in turns and even participate myself. This most definitely help kids see me as one of their own, on their team and not just a 'TEACHER'. It gives them the confidence to try something new in a safe space and it also helps develop a sense of belonging and ownership in the class.
There is no journey like that of a teacher. Watching a child grow is one of the most rewarding feelings imaginable. The learning never ends, as an educator I'm learning everyday, every class. I can't wait to see what the future holds.