You got a job teaching high school theatre. Now what?Teaching theatre can be challenging, but it can change your students' lives forever. In this guide, you will learn valuable tools for teaching high school theatre.
Teaching High School Theatre without a Text Book
Prepare for your first day with a pre-written course syllabus and a set of your own expectations. Theatre students are, by nature, communicators. Your classroom environment should allow students freedom of expression. Some students may have been put in your class, without having registered for it. Assure these students that their completion of the course will benefit them in more ways than simply obtaining theatrical training.
Allow students the freedom to create their own list of expectations from the class. This will assure them that they should feel comfortable in theatre class. Remind them, that you are the teacher, but you are open to suggestions.
Begin instruction with a history of theatre. Consider assigning students a web quest (search History of Theatre web quests in any search engine). Web quests give students freedom to search the Internet for relevant information on a given topic and instruct students to create a product for presentation.
Allow students to choose a one-act play and use the basic design of a play to teach playwrighting and formats. Use this play to assign first performance-a monologue chosen from the play they read.
Use clips from "Whose Line is it Anyway" to introduce improvisational theatre. Provide students with improvisation situations, or allow them to create their own, and allow them to perform them for the class. Use your props and costume box to acclimate students to using these materials on stage.
As a class, choose a full-length play to read aloud and study. Some classes may choose to perform the play for an audience. Ask other teachers in the school to bring their classes to your room or to the performance location to serve as your audience. Recommended plays for classroom analysis are: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, The Miracle Worker by William Gibson, Our Town by Thornton Wilder or Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. It is essential that you incorporate a study of the playwright's biography in your instruction.Choose scenes from the play for students to rehearse and perform. You may also conduct auditions to prepare the students for the rigorous process of auditioning.Allow students access to your props and costume box for their performance of scenes.
As a final project, require your students to research an unlikely career field that utilizes theatrical elements. Examples include: lawyer, teacher, author, salesperson, public speaker, and motivational speakers. Require that your students either write a paper, create a power-point or some other presentation format for evaluation.
Things You Will Need
- List of class rules and procedures
- Plastic storage box for costumes, props, etc.
- Talking Stick (see below)
- Open Mind
- Assortment of scripts
- The talking stick mentioned in the materials list is an excellent management tool in a theatre classroom. It disciplines students to allow others time to speak.
- The Internet is full of warm-up activities, lesson plans and classroom suggestions for theatre teachers.
- A theatre class is a class like no other. A theatre teacher must be flexible and open minded in regards to classroom management. However, the teacher must be fair and firm, as theatre students tend to enjoy the spotlight and their feelings should be taken into consideration.