Teaching is an incredibly rewarding profession; many even consider teaching to be their calling. Theatre and drama teachers have the privilege of sharing their passion for performing arts with their students, and watching them learn and grow not only as performers, but as people too. However, even the most enthusiastic and passionate drama teachers go through rough patches or a slump now and then. If you’re losing your passion for teaching theatre, consider the following questions. You can use them as journal prompts, conversation starters, or simply for contemplation.
1. How long have you been teaching theatre?
2. What do you currently like about teaching theatre?
3. What do you currently dislike about teaching theatre?
4. What is something you used to like about your job, but don’t anymore? What happened?
5. Has anything changed recently?
- School life, students, personal life
- Is something at home affecting your work life?
6. What specific aspects of teaching theatre are getting you down?
- Are you having trouble adjusting to distance learning?
- Do you enjoy working directly with students but dislike dealing with parent questions?
- Do you prefer working with a certain grade level of students over another?
- Are you stuck teaching plays that your administration likes but you don’t?
7. Would you teach theatre even if you didn’t get paid? Why or why not?
8. What are your strengths in the drama classroom? What could you do better?
9. What could you change or adjust about your program?
10. Can you delegate any of your tasks to someone else?
11. Is there something you can remove, not do, or stop doing?
12. How do you feel about your students (past or present)?
13. Do you still enjoy working on shows/productions? Why or why not?
14. Have you noticed any physical changes recently (emotions, pains, aches)?
- Are they affecting your teaching, or is your teaching situation affecting your physical self?
15. Imagine taking a long holiday or sabbatical. How does that make you feel?
16. Do you teach any other subjects? Or, would you rather teach a different subject?
- If so, what subject would you teach?
17. Have you considered leaving the profession or retiring?
18. Would you be happy doing another creative endeavor, such as directing professionally, teaching dance classes or vocal lessons, or performing yourself?
19. What do you like the most about theatre in general?
20. What do you like the least about theatre in general?
Now that you’ve clarified some of your thoughts and feelings about your teaching situation, what can you do about it? Below are some suggestions. You’ll notice that some of them are conflicting; that’s because we’re all different. Some teachers may benefit from immersing themselves in theatre-related activities, while other teachers would be better off taking a full break from any theatrical endeavours.
- Write about your feelings. Journal, write a letter, or express your joys or frustrations. Review what you’ve written. Does anything jump out at you? Circle any repeated thoughts, feelings, or phrases. Or, rip the paper up and throw it out. Observe how you feel.
- Talk to a trusted colleague about how you’re feeling. Have they ever lost their passion for teaching?
- Ask other drama teachers for tips on how to mix things up in your drama program. How do they keep up their passion for teaching?
- Ask your returning drama students what they enjoy most about drama class, and why they continue to study drama.
- Adjust your curriculum. Are there topics that you particularly like that you could focus more deeply on? Are there topics you dislike that you could reduce or eliminate? If you love mask work but dislike tableau work, could you focus more heavily on mask?
- Take a class, course, or workshop on a theatrical topic you’d like to learn more about.
- Volunteer on a community theatre production – on or offstage.
- Go see a show or watch a video of a theatrical production.
- Take a break from watching, listening to, or reading about theatre.
- Think about what made you decide to pursue teaching theatre in the first place.
- Think about what you love most about theatre, and why you think it’s important to share that with your students.
- Reduce your course load or reduce/eliminate your participation in extracurricular projects.
- Take a sabbatical.
We hope you can rediscover your passion for teaching theatre, and regain your teaching mojo. A passionate teacher is a true gift for their students, because their passion is palpable. When a teacher enjoys their work, that positive energy is shared with their students, and it makes the drama classroom an even better place to be.Click here for a free resource: “Passionate Questions for Drama Class.” Get your students thinking too!
Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage combatant from London, Ontario, Canada. She blogs at www.kerryhishon.com.
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