School’s In

Well, the 2006 academic school year has begun with a frenzy and Justin decided he will celebrate this by starting a Drama blog. Of course, I have absolutely no idea whether anyone is interested in the life of a Drama teacher, but I guess I will soon find out!

To be honest, life has been sort of slack for me this past week. Four days of meetings, lunches at cafes and ‘how was your holidays?’, resulted in only a single day of teaching at the end of the week. So I suppose you could say, the ‘frenzy’ I just referred to was a down and out lie!

But, I must say, sometimes my Drama students forget I’m as passionate about teaching Drama as they are about learning it. So when it comes to the start of another school year, often it is certain groups of students who make my day. On Friday I was every bit as excited as some of my Year 8 students who (if I may say so modestly) smiled at me with beaming faces because they scored me as their teacher for the second year in a row. I was pumped to see their familiar faces again in my classroom too. The new ones in the room were swiftly warned by the regulars that Cashy’s bad jokes are ‘shockers’ and these could be both the highlight and lowlight of any given lesson. Personally, I find the poorer my jokes are in the classroom, the more students laugh at them and the fact that they are laughing in pity for me, only spurs me on! In the words of one student last year ‘well look on the bright side, at least they can’t get any worse than this’.

She was wrong.

On paper, I believe I have the strongest Year 12 Drama class in 2006 that I have ever had in all my years of teaching (and yes, I have now almost been teaching as many years as my senior students have been on this earth). I feel a little sorry for them, because we began the year detailing the pressure I will place them under if they truly wish to succeed in Drama this year. Only once did I mention it will still be fun. I think I got the balance wrong, so I’ll need to correct this next week.

Like a lot of my colleagues in other schools, the life of a Drama teacher has its rewards. Students are often more casual in conversation with you and feel they have your trust and can joke around with you a bit. This knocks down a few barriers and makes everyone feel at ease. Ocassionally in the past though, I have heard a little too much detail about what went down at a party on Saturday night! The fact that sometimes students forget the ‘Drama teacher’ on staff has the word ‘teacher’ after Drama, is a compliment of sorts. So, for that alone, I hope things never change.

And how come when I was at teachers college, the Physical Education students were the ‘cool’ ones and the Drama students were the lowlife deadbeats with coloured hair and piercings in unmentionable places? I think no matter how cool the P.E students are at school today, the Drama students give them a run for their money. But why the need to be cool, anyway, I suppose? The Drama students win in the individuality stakes, now that’s for sure! And ‘cool’ sometimes implies mainstream acceptance and Drama students are too ‘together’ to worry themsleves about what other students think of them, anyway.

One of the things I love about teaching is the fact that we never stop learning. I know, bit of a cliche, but it’s true. These days I am more interested in learning stuff from the students about things indirectly related to what we are learning at the time. Last year, I literally let a couple of students ‘take over’ a class, as they taught me how to use MSN. A chat facility we were using strictly for class chatter about school work (part of a Masters project I was undertaking at university) was crashing all the time because there were so many of use in the room. So, letting students teach me about MSN was a wonderful learning experience for me (I don’t know how ‘cool’ it may have been for my students to be talking to their Drama teacher while chatting to their friends on MSN at the same time on Sunday nights was, but hey, that’s another story).

On Friday, I was discussing how I was setting up a music links directory….shameful plug…..Justin’s Music Links … and a few of my Year 12’s taught me three genres of Punk music I didn’t know about yet (even though I had a menu page on the site for Punk already listing about 20 genres). So I learnt all about Emo and Screamo and today I taught myself about Hardcore Emo. Interesting…….

That’s it for today. I’m off to plan a lesson on Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty. Strange man, but well respected for his contribution to world theatre!

1 Response

  1. Mr. Vann says:

    Hey, I’m a first year drama teacher in Texas. I actually found your blog because I’m trying to put together a WebQuest on drama games/exercises for my students. Coincidentally, I have a blog as well – though it has to do with technology issues associated with teaching, and not theatre issues. It’s been a whole lot tougher teaching in High School than I ever dreamed. I hope you keep your blog going because you will at least have one interested reader (me). I will try to be a dedicated reader, but I’m so swamped… My identity is “Mr. Vann” because my students might look at my stuff, but it’s really “Rod.”

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