I currently teach a Year 7 Drama class like I’ve rarely experienced in my twenty-four years as a high school drama teacher. At this level of schooling one expects enthusiasm, but when most of the class has only just turned thirteen, I wasn’t expecting commitment and maturity well beyond their years.
This group of girls:
- constantly talk their (newly learned) language of drama
- write play scripts with stage directions that they actually adhere to in class rehearsals
- stop rehearsals mid-scene to analytically reflect on the pros and cons of what has occurred so far … and then adjust with improvements
- politely ask others in the room not to walk through the middle of their developing plays (something Year 7s are not normally concerned with)
- learn all their lines for plays before I’ve had a chance to actually create a deadline
- ask the teacher if different groups in the class can show each other their near-finished performances for peer feedback just prior to assessment (something only a senior class would think of, much less implement themselves)
- rarely get bored or frustrated with extended activities (as junior drama students normally do), but rather run activities themselves while I sit back in amazement and try to sink it all in
Not surprisingly, I’ve moved into a facilitator role very quickly. In all my years of teaching, I have never given so many A+s to a group of Year 7s in performances (marked individually). Last time I assessed this class, I had to go back to my grades three times before returning them to the students, because I questioned myself again and again in awarding so many high grades.
This situation in my Year 7 Drama class has little to do with me. Sometimes as a teacher you just strike gold. Because of this class I have been reminded of:
- the importance of group dynamics in drama
- the value of positive reinforcement
- the sheer strength of empowering students and the benefits this reaps
- the need to step back, relax and enjoy the moment
- how we should always believe in our students’ ability, because occasionally they’ll blow you out of the water with what they can achieve