Why I Love Teaching Drama

Today represents the start of the final school term for the 2014 academic year in Melbourne, so I thought I’d start on a positive note outlining just some of the reasons why I love teaching drama. When things get tough and you feel like throwing in the towel on this wonderful career, remind yourself of all the special stuff that happens every day in your drama classroom. This is the sort of post I will no doubt come back to from time to time and add more information to. There is no rhyme or reason to the order below – the more random, the better!

I love teaching drama because:

  • it energises and exhausts me at the same time
  • my students are having fun while learning
  • I’m teaching a subject that encourages self-confidence
  • problem solving in my classroom is a genuine life skill
  • the value of play is revered by all
  • my students discover new ways of communicating ideas and creating meaning
  • we can be the loudest classroom in the school and get away with it
  • the subject of my enquiry is a human being (not a number or a word)
  • it is simply the best subject on the curriculum (naturally….)
  • true friendships are formed in my drama classroom, often lasting beyond high school
  • I enjoy seeing the excitement and smiles on my students’ faces
  • my classroom provides genuine escapism for some and a refuge for others
  • my students learn the real meaning of collaboration in group work
  • the lines between creativity and chaos are constantly blurred
  • my students learn both individual and collective responsibility
  • there are limitless possibilities to say a single line of dialogue
  • human experience and relationships are explored in detail
  • my students want to be in class (most of the time)
  • the more challenging things become, the more motivated are my students
  • imaginations are allowed to run free and wild

6 Responses

  1. Vicky says:

    Thank you for the wonderful reminders. I love teaching drama. I have taught drama for years and then the head put me into other subjects and I realized how much the children need the escapism, the creative release. I love it because I felt that wonderful freedom of expression myself. Thank you

  2. Bunch Sekhobo says:

    Thank you Justin.

    Your contribution to the well being of drama teachers (both as psychologists and theatre practitioners) and universalizing our work as a common task.


  3. Carina Oelofse says:

    Amazing how this incredible subject can bring people together. Your concerns and your reasons why you love teaching Drama, mirror mine. Thanks for that! I’m putting it up on the wall to be reminded frequently when I hit the rough patches.

  4. I think it’s always valuable to reflect on what we love and struggle with in teaching. I’m just about to go out on my ATP, and although I am *rather* apprehensive, I’m just trying to focus on how great I felt when in the classroom and seeing kids have a great time.

  5. Hi Valerie,

    Rough patches can sometimes be specific to drama teaching, while others relate more to teaching in general. Some are unique to certain schools, environments, education systems etc. Some are political, while others are cultural. These can include:

    – often feeling like you’re at the bottom of the curriculum in the Arts (and specifically Drama)
    – constantly fighting an uphill battle to be heard in your school
    – difficulties in creating a culture of respect with drama (staff thinking it is not a ‘real’ subject)
    – a lack of funding / departmental money
    – a lack of physical resources (teaching in unsuitable, non-drama-specific spaces)
    – too many students in classes eg. 27 students in a junior drama class which is 95% practical
    – burnout (particularly young drama teachers)
    – little or no recognition (time allowance or money) for many out-of-class drama rehearsals
    – teaching drama in single sex boys schools can often be very challenging
    – drama teachers losing their passion for a multitude of different reasons
    – in some schools, drama has to constantly give way to sport (after-school rehearsals)
    – students not taking drama seriously
    – students being bullied for participating in drama productions etc.

    These are just some of the rough patches a drama teacher (and their students) can encounter in their career. I’m sure there are many more others would like to add, below.

    On a personal level, I have been fortunate not to hit to hit too many of these speed bumps in a serious way, though I have experienced all of them with myself, colleagues and students at various points in my career.

  6. Justin—What are the rough patches you’ve hit? The points where you might feel like “throwing in the towel”? It would be so helpful for me to hear what you (and other drama teachers) experience that’s difficult-challenging in addition to the many wonderful-challenging aspects of the job (and thank you for posting that list!).

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