Posts Tagged ‘Drama Class’
Our Creative Drama class has taught me so many things about the teaching/learning relationship that I hardly know where to begin. I have learned that planning is the absolute bottom line in success with students. I have learned that the focus of the lesson must be clear, that what I am trying to teach the children must be the place that all elements of the lesson return to or it is not going to be a cohesive experience for them. I have learned that it is not necessary to work from a script or write a script to work from in order to create a meaningful experience for students.
I now have the concept embroidered on my soul that we teach two things to children when we use drama: About being human and about drama itself. That one of the reasons teaching through creative drama works so well is that it is always about being human. Even if our work is about a family of rocks, the rocks will be endowed with human traits and this will facilitate the knowledge we are trying to impart to the students becoming part of them.
Through the discussions and in our reading I have had my eyes opened up to so many new ways of approaching and offering content to children. I feel the knowledge with which I entered the program is now embellished with truly focused, responsible teaching skills.
There has always felt to me like I had some intrinsic knowledge when it came to working with and teaching children. But I have always thought to myself that it felt like there were links missing in my own knowledge base. I know that I must still strive to think more and more outside of the box I have been operating from these last years in my work with children, but I feel that that all I have gained in this class has launched me, catapulted me straight out into that journey.
I am very grateful.
I am often so moved every Monday and Wednesday morning as I leave our CD class that I am almost in tears and shaking. Each class leaves me feeling completely filled with purpose about what we are learning. I feel as though my whole life I have been heading toward – or perhaps searching for the path towards – the many techniques we are learning for communicating with actors. With people! For what is the most important component of directing, teaching…even acting? It is not the chance and the ability to communicate to other humans, be they young or old, actors or not, what we wish to impart? To learn from them what they have to offer? To facilitate in others the ability to develop their own paths to what is important for them to know and for them to say? And in this moment I feel thankful for those darn state standards, because of all the things that worry me about my ability to teach, one of the greatest fears I have is that I have no real gauge inside me for knowing how to discern the most important lessons to offer the students. I am grateful for the guidance, at least as concerns the decisions to be made about the academic portions of what we hope to teach, from the state standards and how they can help us as teaching artists to choose what might be the most important content for our students.
An assignment in my creative drama class was to watch a video of English preschoolers completely immersed in dramatic play. It was a delightful way to start my day! here is the link -
and here is my response to it:
The first thing I noticed about the children’s behavior was how free they seemed in their activities, and how very very happy and busy. How comfortable with each other and how very open they were not only with themselves in their activities but in their acceptance of what their classmates were choosing to do as well. The puppet show amused me greatly from the way it took place from the way the audience was viewing the action through the flowers in the planter to the very verbal way the little girl was conducting the story: I will not let you pass until you give me three questions! And then the required questions were very funny and mixed up constructions of child lore and current TV shows. To hear Dr. Who referenced by such tiny people gave me a big giggle.
I thought it was wonderful to hear about the school’s philosophy that children learn through play, and that the complete mission of the class and focus of the teachers seems to be supporting play and how the students are allowed to make their own choices for what they wish to explore, whether they wish to play on their own or with others, and in this way will be helped to learn to make solid choices. I’ve observed in other settings that making choices can be very hard for preschoolers, and it seems to me an important skill towards building self esteem.
Hard skills were everywhere! From the little scientist with her magnifying glass (I did have a hard time not laughing when she announced that she discovered a yellow spider and then seemed to smear it across the lens of the magnifying glass – poor spider! All in the name of science…)
More science skills practice was visible in the mirror play the two little girls were enjoying, and the books on insects below the drama area, and it seems to me that the restaurant play would also include some math skills as the children talked about portions (fractions? Too much of a stretch?) and perhaps would then have progressed to how much to charge for their insect-filled delicacies. And pre-literacy skills were everywhere, from the storytelling during the puppet show and the creation of scenarios and plots for dramatic play to the recounting of the day’s activities during the David Dog pass around circle time.
I was very impressed with the lead teacher’s statement that they encourage the children to use their interests as a starting place for their learning, and was blown away by her statement “we learn best when we are enjoying ourselves.” Such a simple and obvious statement. How true that is for all of us at every age, and how often it is forgotten or, worse, discounted.
How odd to be gearing up for school again - me going to school I mean! Getting all the necessary ducks in a row, and ordering books – the psych book alone was 155.00 – this seems ridiculous to me! I had thought professors would be more cognizant of the amount students have to spend on books and consider a cheaper edition, but this is perhaps not the case…or perhaps not possible.
But still, I am looking forward to that class, though it is an online class, my first, and I am sure I will miss the “face to face” as dear Ann in VT calls it. But the idea that I will be able to arrange my involvement with the class to suit my schedule is tempting, I must admit.
I am most looking forward to the text analysis class, as I find that sort of thing fascinating. And the Directing workshop, which is not only for the MAT students, but is geared toward directing high school students. And ok, the process drama class, which has a component in the schools and will surely give me ideas for how to reach and teach children of all differnt ages in a way that does not have as its purpose any sort of performance stress at all.
Ok, I admit it. I can’t wait. My brain is raring to go and I can’t wait to get back to using it.
I have been on vacation far too long.
This week I had my first drama class with the elementary students! I had been hoping for an opportunity to work with these younger guys since I started at the school and this week we were finally able to make it happen. They arrived at 11:15 Friday and after we discussed the procedures for my class we played a few name games and then moved on to playing “Everybody Who…” which has been a huge hit with the older guys in the last few weeks.
We played it with the same number of chairs as actors in this case, as I felt it important to get to know them all a little bit more before adding the stress of removing one chair (the game is ordinarily played in a fashion similar to musical chairs, with one less chair than actors.)
It was a great opportunity to learn more about these younger Glenforesters. And lots of fun.
And my goodness, they are clever!
Part of last week as well a the last few days before Thanksgiving break in drama class we played a new game I purchased for the fine arts program: the new charades game, Anything Goes. Here’s a description:
Yes it has a lot of rules, and oh my, yes, it is silly. But there is something about it that really appeals to my students. There are lots of steps to what you might think should be a pretty simple game, but that seems to help them exercise their cognizance of turn taking and help them with their attention to the rights and responsibilities of the others involved in the game. And having to perform two different unrelated actions at once is great for their helping them release their inhibitions around risk taking and being physical in front of the other kids.
I love watching them as they progress not only in their ability to be creative in body and face and voice, but as they learn to think of each other and to be more aware of what passes for acceptable behavior (to their peers, yes, but also to their teacher) and how good the developing supportiveness of their peers makes them feel.
Yep. What else could be more important for them to learn in Drama Class?
September 20th marks the beginning of something really special I think: the very first after school drama class Center Stage has ever had at the Glenforest School, our new home. I think it will be a small group – maybe 5 children, but I look forward to getting to know these little guys and working on an original project with them.
I have such hopes for Center Stage; I would love for it to thrive and bring happiness and a creative outlet to kids from all over the area. It is my fervent wish that I can in some small way help young people who crave it find a place to discover the acting experience in a safe, nurturing, and respectful environment.