Few times in my career as a drama teacher have I encountered the quiet drama class. But I’m there right now and I’m struggling…
This term I have had the 2nd quietest class of drama students in my ten years at my current school. Granted, its a small class. Thirteen Year 9 girls and about half the class didn’t choose drama as their 1st preference elective. But that’s not the issue. They are fabulous students who are more than willing to contribute to the best of their ability to activities. It’s just that they are so quiet!
As you can imagine, class discussion becomes an issue when half the class would rather be silent and listen to other ideas. Okey-dokey, how about some drama games and improvisation starters to get the ball rolling? Now that’s cool until we see the same six students contribute to every game. Once groups go off and brainstorm ideas for their comedy improvisations, small-group discussion seems even harder than whole-class teacher-lead discussion.
We are nearing the end of this term-length course. The focus of content has been comedy, specifically satire, slapstick and farce. I would argue the fact this has been a comedy drama course has made my job as teacher even harder. It’s difficult for even the most confident of drama students to successfully pull off comedy, much less a quiet student.
At times, this silence and quietness is unnerving. I find myself cracking lame jokes to keep the students entertained (not a good strategy). The start of most lessons begins with thirteen girls sitting on the floor in front of my desk waiting for me to take the roll without a sound to be heard. Do they think this is silent reading in English class, I ask myself? Because silent reading would be louder.
The quietness of this drama class has made me question my skills as a drama teacher. I set an activity. They accept it. In silence! Are they engaged? Do they find this task interesting? Do they understand it? Should I scaffold the task better? Are they bored?
While some of my colleagues out their in drama teacher land may be reading this post and thinking how lucky I am to have a quiet drama class, trust me, this has been more of a challenge than the noisiest and most unsettled of drama classes in my past.
We never stop learning in teaching. I’d love to hear other colleagues’ experiences and tips on how best to tackle the quiet drama class…