Whilst I still profess teaching drama is the best job in the world, a career in drama teaching is not always a bed of roses. Every profession has its less fulfilling, even unfair aspects, and teaching drama is no exception. If you’re an experienced drama educator, then much of this post may already be familiar to you. If you’re new to the game, then you need to be aware of the unglamorous …. what I call the ugly side of drama teaching:
- lunch time rehearsals
- after school rehearsals
- weekend rehearsals
- holiday rehearsals
- no time allowance for rehearsals
- no remuneration for rehearsals
- painting play and musical sets and props outside school hours
- making costumes outside school hours
- colleagues not taking your subject seriously
- students not taking your subject seriously
- drama teachers suffering from exhaustion
- drama teachers suffering burnout
- school administrations using drama productions purely to market their school
- school administrations not knowing what the subject of drama entails
- school administrations not knowing about the drama teacher’s hours outside class time
- drama teachers genuinely feeling under valued and under appreciated in the workplace
- the skill of experienced drama teachers not being properly recognised
- the drive and enthusiasm of younger drama teachers being over utilised (resulting in burnout)
I started writing this post as a series of paragraphs, soon realising it may be thesis-length by the time I’d finished. Not a suitable length for a blog! So by no means is this a definitive or exhaustive list of bullet points, but it’s a good start in outlining the unglamorous side of drama teaching.
One could argue a drama teacher knows what they signed up for at the beginning of their career or job at a new school, so most of the points I raise in this post should come as no surprise. But that argument doesn’t fly for me. Many of these are not clear at the outset, evolve as part of the job some time on, or are requested at a later date by school administrations.
I urge all drama and theatre teachers reading this post, young and old, new and experienced, to never lose your passion for teaching drama. But at the same time, don’t put up with getting used by others. Establish a culture of respect, educate others about the role of the drama teacher, log your outside class hours in the job for those who need to see it, and ensure your working conditions are fair. A drama teacher will rarely get back in return what they put in to the job beyond the scheduled class hours. No teacher of any subject does. But when you see the sports teachers getting a time allowance in their load for swim training before school, but you don’t get the same in return for musical and play rehearsals after school, don’t put up with it. Speak up and be heard.
Comment below if you have a story you’d like to share with others about the unglamorous side of drama teaching.