Sometimes we think theatre techniques belong only on stage but finding ways to apply these activities to the classroom paradigm can increase engagement, imagination, and critical thinking. It’s also a wonderful way to break the ice with your students, get them moving around, interacting with each other and overall, just having fun with your subject matter. I’ve got tips for you teachers to use these theatre skills in your classrooms.
Behind the scenes
Most of the work that makes a classroom come alive happens behind the scenes! Any high-quality performance cannot merely depend on the actor’s presentation skills. The actor and his large support crew coordinates and contributes in the background preparation too.
In the same way, a teacher’s entry and subsequent performance in the classroom is dependent on the work s/he and her team do behind the scenes. Subject mastery is of vital importance but more importantly, preparation refers to preparing for the act of teaching, not preparing the subject matter alone per se.
Below are some theatre techniques that you can use in a variety of classes.
Just keep your students’ ages, comfort levels, and physical and linguistic abilities in mind. You will get to know what will work best with each group and what accommodations students might need. Don’t be afraid to play around with these activities to really make them your own.
Organise! Organise! Organise!
Chant the mantra with every breath and act on it. Arriving early for your class and preparing the lessons and activities in advance will help you get the kick start you need.
Get those props together
Think of your teaching material as props to make your act shine. Decorating the chalkboard, putting up pin board essentials and pre-arranging classroom furniture must be promptly checked off the to-do list.
Creating a vibrant classroom climate is like designing and erecting a stage set.
Free your mind
Pausing a moment before entering the classroom to clear your head. Take that moment to review the mental map of the day’s lesson and recommit yourself to the challenge of the teaching-learning process. Emptying the mind of any extraneous issues is the best way to start.
Take a break
Another important exercise is to align the body and the mind by practicing some deep breathing. Stand with your feet six inches apart, arms hanging by your sides and fingers unclenched, while breathing deeply. This tells your body and those in the audience that everything is alright.
A quick mental rehearsal of the delivery of a successful lecture can boost energy levels.
Once you are relaxed, do some positive imaging about yourself as an effective teacher. Think of yourself as a teacher who knows her subject well, is ready to speak fluently and is equipped to respond to students’ questions.
Enter with an opening line
An opening line for a teacher is as important as it for an actor or a stand-up artist. A good opening line, even if it is a greeting, can set the right pace for the day’s lesson.
Find warm-up activities
Look for activities that are age and subject appropriate and use them to break the proverbial ice. Gently, but firmly set the expectations and clarify the consequences. Always check-in with your learners at various points during the session, asking questions and encouraging responses. Try and gauge their previous knowledge and check for understanding. This will help focus the attention of a scattered classroom.
Think of yourself as ‘guides on the side’ and not as a ‘sage on the stage’
Your learners are as nervous as you are, so play together. The best teaching isn’t formulaic; it’s personal, therefore, focus on connecting with your learners.
Once your entry is established, let your learners take center stage. One should prepare ahead of time for any task, whether it is cooking, acting or teaching. Teaching takes more than what meets the eye! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Stepping across that classroom threshold takes courage.
In order to take this action as a professional, it also requires knowledge, preparation, and practice. Creative drama, improvisation and storytelling are your best tools to hold you in good stead throughout your teaching career. Break a leg!
Read others activities to make every class engaging.
Do you use some games or a different approach in your classroom? Share it with us in the comments or in an article.