There are many reasons to get into teaching theatre. Whether it comes from a love of teaching or a love of theatre, it’s important to take a deep breath and enjoy the journey. Learn from the challenges and celebrate the successes. But sometimes it can be tough to determine what success looks like.
So we went straight to the source to get the inside scoop from those who’ve been there: drama teachers.
We asked: How do you define success as a drama teacher?
Keeping in touch
The amazing successes of so many students. Even more importantly, how so many of them have stayed in contact through the years. I have loved each and every one of them and it means so much to still be in contact. I love being able to congratulate them on their many achievements. (Kim)
Former students, as long ago as 15 years, writing me letters of appreciation and realizing the good effects that drama had on them. I love it when I’m invited to their weddings too! (Tina)
Today I went to see a play at a local theater and one of my former students was in it (I didn’t realize until I saw the program). She was so excited to see me and told me I made her day, because I was her favorite teacher ever. To me, that is success. (Jennifer)
Groups of students who remain friends and creative collaborators after leaving my class and come back to visit me sharing about their latest projects. Letters written by students advocating for the preservation of the school drama program citing the impact it’s had on their lives. (Diana)
Developing life skills
Are the students learning skills and stretching whatever it is they need to stretch… voice, confidence, movement, intentions, teamwork, awareness, listening, posture, eye contact, diction, focus, staying in character, playing increasingly more difficult characters, more in period, etc., and are they enjoying it after a performance/success? (Deborah)
Students learning empathy for others and how to be unapologetically their most authentic selves. (Kelly)
Social awareness of something greater than oneself rooted in actions fueled with empathy. (Pam)
Being told by a parent of a dyslexic student that they never thought their child would be capable of confidence with reading, but seeing them on a stage in front of a crowd having memorized lines blew them away. (Eryn)
When that shyest of kids opens up and owns his scene to the delight of the audience. And watching him feel that joy. (Kelly)
Seeing a shy little kiddo come to class at the beginning of the year, and leave at the end of the year being able to stand up and perform confidently in front of the class is the most rewarding for me. Building confidence and helping them believe in themselves! (Ashleigh)
Having students forcibly hug me after their performance, saying, ‘“You said I could do it and you were right, you believed in me more than I did!” (Vicky)
Happy, confident kids. (Kris)
Getting a kid who previously had stage fright to act as the lead in your show. (Jeff)
Not having to be backstage ever because the students are so confident in their ability to get the job done. (Meg)
If my students leave my care having more confidence in themselves than when I got them.(RHS)
When I see my actors fully committed and fearless in their characters. (Jeannette)
The smiles on their faces when they finish performing and they thought they could never do it. (MMS)
Students finding their place
A place for kids to belong, to find their thing, just like any kid who loves basketball, music, etc. The pride they feel putting on a show, the joy they get from playing a game, losing themselves in a character… so many things. (Tara)
When a parent tells me, “My kid loves this, he found his people.” (Shannon)
My favorite part of theater education is the kinship and feeling of family that comes from the shared effort of putting together a show. When I see even the quirkiest kids finding solace in the safe space that I strive to create, that to me is the biggest success I could achieve. (Leigh)
As a neurodivergent teacher, theater saved school for me. I hope to be that place for my kids. (Amanda)
Small things. That one freshman that came after school to finish painting that set piece you assigned during class who gradually gets to know the rehearsing drama kids and then when an ensemble member drops, she’s there to step in and within a month, she’s found her theater family and she’ll be a drama kid for life, and in those tiny, one-student-at-a-time moments, magic is made and faith is restored and I am once again in love with what I do. Small things. (Terry)
Seeing students come into their own
Observing and being part of their development as artists and human beings. That moment when you see them come into their own is so satisfying! (Amy)
Growth! My favorite thing in the world is feedback saying, “I never expected that from [troubled/shy/athletic/etc. student name]!” (Caryn)
The ownership of actors and tech on the night of the opening show! They own it. Joy! (Betsy)
Developing a love of theatre
When people who experience their first few classes suddenly realise that drama is an essential subject and should be taught to all ages and levels. Bingo right there. (Amina)
When the final curtain falls at the end of a run and all of the students run to you and beg to do one more performance or start asking what the next show will be. (Bill)
Students who leave my class loving theatre. (Roxanne)
Just when we start rehearsals on an end-of-course showcase and one student asks, “After this one are we going to do another show?!” (Ranya)
When students leave the room excitedly chatting about what they just experienced in class. (Kathi)Click here to learn more about measuring success in the drama class plus a free Reflection Exercise
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