As theatre educators, we typically do what we do because of a passion for both theatre and teaching. When our students struggle, we’re often the first ones in their corner cheering them on. But what happens when we’re the ones struggling? When the daily stresses and frustrations add up until you feel like the show can’t go on?
We went straight to the source to get the inside scoop from those who’ve been there: drama teachers.
We asked: What motivational words would you offer a struggling drama teacher?
Let yourself play — and let the kids play! Stop, drop, and goof around! (Julia B.)
If you can laugh and your students can laugh every lesson, then you’re doing it right!
Teach the students to look after their voices so you can look after yours! (Robert D.)
Have fun with it, show them how much you love it. The more excited you get about what you are teaching, the more excited they will get about what you are teaching. Share that love you have for it with them! (Misty R.)
Learn to laugh. We’re all fallible and so are the kids. Learn to enjoy the process together. You are all developing artists. Learn to grow together. (David V.)
Find the magic
Remember when you first had that awe-inspiring moment of, “It’s magic!” in the theater? You get to set up the structure for an unsuspecting kid to get hit with that same amazing moment. (Rachel W.)
Remember why you do this
Remember that teacher who inspired you as a kid. (Aoife H.)
Remember your WHY!!!! (Claire L.)
Don’t look at the big picture. Find the little moments, a student who finally “gets it” or a moment of connection you had with a group. It’s the little moments that get you through, especially in a job where we’re usually the only one there. (Andi C.)
Theatre skills are life skills. Your students may never use these skills for acting but they’ll always have them for use in life. (Zack P.)
It’s all about relationships! Work on relationships. (Andy L.)
It’s not always easy
If everything is easy and everyone is comfortable, you’re doing it wrong. (Scott G.)
It gets better. (Joshua D.)
It’s a temporary glitch. Trust in your skills and knowledge. You’ve got this! (Heidy P.)
Teaching is a lot like tech / “hell” week. You remember all of the things that are going wrong, and sometimes don’t have time to acknowledge all of the really awesome things happening. You feel like the whole thing is a mess. But, in the end, most people see a lovely end product and applaud all of that hard work you did. In the same vein, there are others with you in other schools (or “productions,” with this analogy) who see what you’re doing and realize exactly how much of you went into what the public sees. You are not alone, but you ARE trained and ready for this! (Kathryn H.)
What you do matters
You are planting seeds of growth and in time the fruits of your labor will flourish. (Andrea K.)
You will make a difference if you continue to expose them to theater. Kids have so much fun. (Nadine J.)
They may not tell you this but you may be the reason some kids attended school today. (TD)
A good teacher is one who knows they know nothing and starts from the heart. (Andrea S.)
You’re the whole reason some of the kids in your class can express themselves at all! (Stephen C.)
The journey is every bit as important as the end product. Encourage students to stop and smell the greasepaint along the way. When you engage students in creative play, improv, rehearsal, and performance, you are giving them a gift that will last a lifetime. (Kathi T.)
You matter and your work matters, so much! (OTC)
Your work is important, vital, and necessary. (Sarah L.)
Keep some perspective
The show will go up. The show will come down. You will be in your yoga pants. Borrowing from someone who said it to me. (Jennifer P.)
Remind yourself that they are just high schoolers (or whatever grade level you teach). They are really good at acting like adults 75% of the time and that can make it hard to remember that they are still kids and will still do dumb things. Love them through it. It’s worth it. (Brittany M.)
It’s not the bells and whistles, use what you have to make it work. We don’t have a theatre, but have a successful program due to imagination, practice, and fun! (Beth G.)
Make self-care a priority
It’s okay to take days off. Rest is important. (Tabitha C.)
Those relaxation/breathing exercises you do with your kids? DO THEM. Always remember the BIG PICTURE. (Andy R.)
Take five. Sometimes you learn the most by listening to them talk to each other. (Shannon R.)
It takes a village
Ask for help. You’re not alone. Make a list and then figure out what can be taken off your plate or done by others. (Christa D.)
Pace yourself. Don’t compare your program to others. Always keep the kids in mind. Make friends with the coaches, custodians, secretaries, and bookkeeper. They are amazing people who will provide you with support. Ask for what you need. You’ll never know if you don’t try! Find joy in the little things. (Carolyn G.)
You don’t have to do it all by yourself. Find the allies in your school. Set up a system for parent, community, and alumni volunteers. And remember that this is educational theatre and you are working with earnest amateurs. Allow yourself and others an extra measure of patience and grace. (Erin M.)
You’ve got this
Life is like a big box seat. You never miss a thing and you’re in total control. (Fiona Y.)
You’re doing it right. It’s a process for everyone. (Anne M.)
Just keep showing up! (Corianna L.)
The show must go on! Seriously, you will get the hang of it! (Caitlin P.)
The show is going to come together and it will be great! Enjoy the ride! (Kelly R.)Click here for some more encouragement, plus free classroom posters and self-care affirmations.
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