This past week I was reminded just how important a factor confidence is when Drama/Theatre students are developing theatre performances.
In my own example, Year 12 Drama students are preparing final examinations, particularly their 7-minute solo performance character examination to be performed before external assessors.
So many new factors come into play when, for the first time, the students’ assessor is not their classroom teacher. Unknown factors abound, including how the assessors will interpret certain assessment criteria or whether they will spot symbol in a performance, and many more subtle particulars.
Along with this process often comes a lack of student confidence in their own ability. Students who were beaming with confidence earlier in the year, all of a sudden hit rock bottom at the pointy end of the year when it really matters.
In the past week I’ve been a Drama teacher, a disciplinarian, a first aid worker, an actor, a parent, a friend and a mentor in senior Drama class. Such is the nature of teaching in general these days, and specifically that of teaching a subject that requires the performer to be in the right head space in order to excel. You can get away with sitting a Maths exam on a bad day if you know your material, but try doing that with a performance exam in Drama!
It is times like this that remind me, as Drama/Theatre teachers, we must know our senior students well, so we can spot moments of crisis along the way (and preferably before they arrive). When a crisis hits a senior Drama class at a crucial time of the year, it creates a sense of panic inside both the teacher and student. It’s up to us as teachers not to let our students see our own panic, but keep telling them the truth – that we believe in them and their own ability – and that not only will they will get there on the day, but that they will be rewarded for all their efforts along the way. Belief is a powerful thing in theatre, and when dealing with teenagers in particular, should never be underestimated.