Teaching Drama

Misconceptions

  • The Grade Nine student who talks and talks and talks when you’re talking is not necessarily not listening. (now there’s a sentence). They can talk and intake information at the same time. It’s quite the skill.
  • The student who resists writing with a pen is not necessarily lazy. Give them a computer keyboard and their fingers fly.
  • The student who does not format properly is not necessarily a bad writer.
  • The student who says ‘I don’t know’ does not necessarily have little to say. Sometimes, given the right circumstance, they write and write and write.
  • The class that is happy and working well today will not necessarily be that way tomorrow. The opposite is also true. Class dynamic is a mind trip.
  • The student who receives praise will not necessarily process it well. Sometimes it makes them freeze. This is heartbreaking, when all you want to do is tell them they did a good job.
  • The student who you least expect to process praise well, so why bother to praise them, will show you how hard they can work just because some one told them they did a good job.
  • Dividing a project into baby steps is not necessarily dumbing down the project. The whole point of my current project is to teach idea gathering for plays in a manner that allows any student (any student, not just¬†inherently creative students) to move forward with a play. The smaller the step, the easier the process is to digest and the more willing the student is to take the next step. Take too big a step and students get lost in the middle of the instruction. I have learned that this process needs more steps than I thought. We’re still doing the same work, just with more steps.
  • Teenagers can’t think. Teenagers are dumb. Teenagers have no creativity. Teenagers can’t think for themselves. Teenagers have no interesting ideas. The list goes on and on doesn’t it? The list is bullshit. People who think that about teens, have never bothered to invest time in a teenager. They want teens to be dumb, un-thinking, un-interesting.

As always I’m in awe of what teachers do. I’m in awe of what teenagers have to say. Lots of learning going on…..most of it by me….

About the author

Lindsay Price

4 Comments

  • So very true! All of it. I have been subbing in high school. I have a masters in theatre and very seldom have an opportunity to teach diddley squat b/c of resistance they have w/ subs. However, this past week I began to share my fantasy future role I want to play. The girls began to listen and soon were collaborating w/ me as we spin out this character I want to play on Glee. Only one knew what I was talking about, but that didn’t stop the others as I gave them the scenario of what Glee is all about.
    My most favorite actress and performer is Kristen Chenoweth (who they were not familiar with). Not only is she a graduate from the same University as I am, plus I’m very short. It started w/ me being #1 fan of Kristen. She is actually living out my dream! I wonder which of us the tallest or shortest. Then I hit upon an idea I want to play her mom who is a sub at a high school (Glee). Then the girls pitched in and went on “oh, she’s got to be more than a sub, wouldn’t she have an other job?) Yes, and they said something that is off-beat. One girl was teasing and asked didn’t you tell us you were once a stripper? No, I said, BUT that’s it but let’s upgrade a little being a pole dance instructor in the evenings.
    That was the most creative moment in all my subbing years. And the way the students got drawn in was exciting. The boys even started listening by the.
    Oh, yes, these kids are creative and it has to be drawn out of them. Creative drama is the best way.
    I’m so glad you started this blog. You have given me some great ideas for my subbing. I am getting really frustrated that I really don’t have a chance to play/work with them and so uncreative environment. I can change that using my background in theatre. IMPROV! IMPROV!

  • As someone who has done my share of teaching theatre in schools and as a sub – I remain in awe of teacher and happily astonished with teens. The best decision of my life was to focus on writing and working for teens. It’s been as good as it gets.

  • Wow. I agree. I think I’ve learned more in my 7 years as a High School Theatre teacher than I have in my 19 years of school. I’ve discovered that:
    1. Yes, they can listen to two iPods at the same time.
    2. Letting a child draw/doodle while they listen is a great way to let themselves keep themselves focused. I have a fantastic drawing on my wall that a student gave me. Something he was working on for a few weeks. As he would listen to the discussions he would incorporate what we were talking about into the drawing. By looking at his drawing I could see everything we talked about and even his own comments (and of course some funny jokes) It still amazes me every time I look at it.
    3. Sometimes an absolutely CRAZY and often uncontrolled improv session can lead to some wonderful writing opportunities.
    4. Students will find a way to text in your class. While it’s frustrating it’s sort of the modern day equivalent of passing notes. Keep an eye out for it but don’t let your watching keep you from teaching.
    5. I’m always amazed when I speak about students with other teachers. I hear them say how challenging they may find a student and I say how successful/fun they are in my class. They may then say how successful a certain student is in their class and I comment on how I can’t quite get through yet. I’m just happy that students still have the opportunity for different classes/learning opportunities so they can find where they shine.
    6. Students can be easily motivated with candy.

    And finally although I know it’s corny I still love this expression:
    They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

    Thank you Lindsay for caring.

  • Thanks so much for your comments. I feel at times teens get such a undeserved negative reputation simply because of who they are. And sure, there are those who embody the stereotype. But I’ve been amazed at what they can do. What they can write when they are allowed to write freely.