I’m sure so many a school teacher has heard the joke countless times: “He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches”, but ironically any educator will tell you that teaching (even at elementary level) is extremely hard!
Yet, despite how tiring, emotional, challenging and sometimes draining the instructional job is day in, day out, most teachers will still love their job and wouldn’t change their teaching career for the world, so why is that? And wouldn’t you love to be in a profession that you love to hate that much?!
So, why is pedagogy such a rewarding profession to be in and what can you expect from being a newly-qualified drama teacher at an educational institution?
If you’ve not yet completed your certification to become a teacher, then your goal first and foremost should be completing your accreditation to obtain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). Ideally, you should be educated to at least A Level in the principal content area you wish to teach, as a passion for the subject is key. Not only that, it will also make your own learning curve that bit easier if you already know about your subject. All of this will help facilitate your professional development and make you better equipped to earn more too.
You could enroll for an undergraduate degree (offered by numerous universities) like a BA in Education, which automatically makes you QTS accredited, or you can return as a learner to study for a teaching qualification after your first Bachelor’s degree. When postgrads train via a teacher education program teacher, this is called a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).
You can take many different paths to become a teacher, depending on your age and level of education. Photo on Visual Hunt
If, like many, you have aspirations to find employment in schools in other countries, you may find that your PGCE is not classed as a valid teaching qualification. International teachers should consider the ‘on the job’ Graduate Training Programme (GTP) if they want to teach abroad, which is recognised internationally.
Different establishments may have their own prerequisites (like certification requirements and guidelines on the amount of experience you must have) to qualify for a particular teacher job or other vacancies, so be sure to check your eligibility for the opportunity.
If you are new to the world of teaching, you might have already learned that you pretty much have barely a minute to yourself anymore. You are probably spending hours preparing lessons and strategies each semester in line with the national curriculum, but the good news is that this will only get easier as you relax into your role and have previous lesson plans to work from. If you are a teaching assistant, you may still have to participate in some extra curricula activities too but you will likely have less to prepare than a certified teacher.
Similarly, a special education teacher will have to come up with comprehensive and specialist subject matter to meet the needs of their pupils, who may have a range of disabilities to keep into consideration.
A big positive for drama as a subject, as opposed to some other more academic subjects, is that drama lesson planning will allow you to use creativity and come up with innovative ways to teach your lessons, which can be challenging and satisfying to explore. You can, for example, use games, storytelling or role-play to make classes interactive and fun.
Your role as a drama teacher, however, isn’t just about organising the end of term plays or teaching Shakespeare’s plays. Drama, very much like English Literature (in fact, many schools will teach drama to younger pupils as part of the English curriculum), requires a lot of research, analysis and writing work to submit which you will be responsible for setting and marking.
But you must be subtle with your comments, remaining only constructive and encouraging with feedback offered. On the one side, reading homework or course work produced by students can be a big revelation and highly rewarding, whilst on the other, it can be incredibly frustrating and time-consuming.
In addition to the above, you will be responsible for helping your class to prepare for exams, both written and performed, so you must know your curriculum’s requirements inside out. You may also be charged with organising theatre trips, cultural outings and you will have to participate in parent-teacher evenings, discussing pathways and scholarships with the parents of a student.
A job in childhood education can be quite lonely, especially if you have exams coming up or you have just had coursework completed, but rest assured that you do get to spend your time with more than just a group of children or teens. You will be asked to attend various formal departmental meetings and therefore get the chance to meet other teaching staff, attend training days and often build up a good rapport with colleagues, going out on staff socials from time to time.
As an instructor in the Drama department, your work may cross over with a range of other education courses and qualifications, like Humanities, English Literature, Languages, Psychology and Philosophy, for example. This is because Drama teaches pupils a variety of basic skills that can be applied across the curriculum.
Teaching can feel a little isolating at times, but you do build up a great rapport with colleagues. Photo on Visualhunt.com
The Overall Planning Of Lessons
Reading, writing and analysing texts will almost always come into play at some point during the term for a drama class. But that doesn’t mean to say that 50% of your lessons need to be boring and uninspiring, you can still make research and analysis work fun and uplifting for all and encourage your class to be an aspiring school year.
Remember to make use of all of the facilities at your disposal on campus. So, for example, if your head teacher has a budget for drama trips, use it (albeit wisely). If there is an assembly hall on the premises, book it out for relevant practical lessons. Keeping your lessons varied throughout the term will definitely work in your favour.
Many employed teachers are forced to prepare lessons within the confines of a classroom space week after week whereas, as a drama teacher, you should have a number of tools and spaces to work with, including costumes, puppets, picture books, art supplies, props and stages.
If you have come to a dead end and are feeling a little uninspired by your instructional material, here is some information on teaching a class about drama and tips on what to prepare.
Delivering Drama Lessons
One of the most important lessons you will learn about being a drama teacher is that you have to be able to adapt. So, if something happens that means that you need alter the way your planned class was due to run, you need to accept it and move forward.
In some ways, it can be very hard to plan a drama lesson, because of how free the lessons are designed to be. For instance, how can you predict how a class will respond to an activity? If they are absolutely loving an exercise and really getting stuck in, then you might want to let them carry on and the lesson could take an entirely different turn to what you had expected and planned for.
Yet, that can be one of the best things about teaching drama! No two lessons are the same, because no two years are the same in secondary school or elementary education. You can go from one lesson laughing at and being entertained by an enthusiastic eleven-year-old to the next, being moved almost to tears by a performance from a gifted fifteen-year-old.
It is so rewarding when one of your pupils moves you to tears with a performance. Photo credit: ulisse albiati on Visualhunt
One of the biggest challenges in the everyday life of a drama teacher is keeping each and every activity linked to theatre and the national board curriculum. As such, it is important for a drama teacher to keep up to date with what is happening in the industry, what plays are out, what films are being shown, etc… Without this knowledge, it can be hard to really convey a true passion and commitment to your craft to your pupils.
While it can be easy to over-plan for a lesson and pack too much into it, making you seem like a bit of a try-hard, the fact is that you only get back what you put in, so it’s best to be prepared with more than you need, and play it by ear on the day. With any luck, if you deliver your lesson just right with enough serious content balanced nicely with a fun activity or two, then you will come out of the lesson feeling confident and happy and your pupils will gain a lot more from the experience too.