Welcome to a new year, drama educators! If you’re new to teaching drama — whether you’re an experienced educator who has changed departments or you’re a brand-new teacher — we are so happy you’re here with us. You’re part of a special group of teachers and we’re here to lift you up and help you succeed.
This month we are focusing on advice for new drama teachers — tips, tricks, and resources to make your life easier. This post is all about planning ahead, before you even meet your students. The more you plan out in advance, the more prepared and confident you’ll be.
Take some time to think about what kind of drama teacher you want to be. Write down some adjectives that resonate with you, such as kind, inspiring, thoughtful, creative, or patient. There are so many words that describe a great teacher. Think about what led you to become a drama teacher, what areas of drama and theatre you are excited to share with your students, and what you hope your students will learn from you. Stick this list somewhere you’ll see it regularly.
Get the names and contact information of the other teachers in your department. See if you can get together for a coffee and pick their brains. You’ll also want to reach out to teachers in associated departments, such as English, music, dance, and art, particularly if you are the only drama teacher at your school. While your administrators will be your go-to resource for school policies and procedures, your colleagues will be better able to give you the ins and outs of the day-to-day routines. If it’s appropriate, meet with the previous drama teacher and see if they have advice or resources they can share with you. Look up drama teachers in nearby schools and send them a message to connect. Make a list of possible community partners, such as local theatre companies. Start building your own drama community.
What “stuff” is available to you? Get into your classroom as soon as you can and do a thorough once-over. What do you have in terms of teaching materials, school supplies, furniture, scripts, technical equipment, props and costumes, performance space, and budget? What teachers or departments in the past have helped out with productions? Does your library have scripts or texts that could be helpful? What items in your classroom need to be better organized? What is outdated or missing altogether? Think about your own skills and strengths as part of your resources. What areas of theatre are you most passionate about and/or skilled at? What areas do you need help with, or know less about? Once you know what’s available to you and what you’re lacking, you can start to make a wish listand work towards sourcing those things.
Routines and systems will help your students know what to expect and help you stay organized and on top of things. Start to think about what tools and techniques you might use each day. Daily student check-ins? Circle time? Small groups? Bell work? Games? Warm-ups? Exit slips? Start collecting resources and see what appeals to you. The New Drama Teacher Toolkit, which is free to download, is a great place to start.
If other teachers, colleagues, friends, family, students, or parents offer help, take it! You can’t do everything alone. Build your collection of tools, resources, and connections as much as possible, and continue to refine it as you go.
And don’t forget that whether you have lots of resources already available or you’re starting from scratch, Theatrefolk has you covered. We’ve got a huge collection of scriptsfor high school and middle school students, for both performance and classroom study. Many of our plays come with free study guides as well. We’ve got teaching resources on topics such as teaching methods for new drama teachers, playwriting exercises, improv, emergency lesson plans, and more, as well as a ton of resources on our website that are totally FREE. As well, the Drama Teacher Academy is an incredible resource with thousands of lesson plans, professional development courses, and teaching tools (including posters, videos, toolkits, printables, and scenes). We are here to help!