My very first drama lesson happened – a momentous occasion!
It was a lovely and actually quite talented Year 8 class, with whom I’ll be covering improvisation. The lesson went…..okay. I was nervous, and although I feel like I covered the nerves relatively well, my face was definitely a little red for most of the class! The warm-up did not start well. I chose The Clapping Circle (seen on The Drama Teacher’s Network), and not only did they not really get the concept, they thought it was boring and hurt their knees kneeling down! Sometimes you just can’t win. So I definitely didn’t pitch my warmup very well! I guess it happens…
The main exercises of the class were learning to accept offers, and then trying to block and offer, but provide an alternative and keep the improv moving along. They absolutely whizzed through the material, and I felt that I hadn’t planned enough. I then chucked in 3 rounds of Fortunately/Unfortunately to make up the time! They were hesitant, but eventually got into it, thank god!
Looking back though, I think I was more in control than I (and possibly some of the students) realised at the time! I felt as though I knew what I was doing, although my weakness was definitely not knowing how long certain tasks would take. I have a feeling I will become married to the clock in the drama room; by keeping a close eye on the time, I should be able to extend or shorten activities as necessary. I raced a bit this time, and as a result, felt a little bit stranded towards the end!
In a way, teaching drama to teenagers is not unlike being an actor myself. The lesson planning and preparation beforehand are akin to learning my lines; developing my character is working out what sort of classroom manager I will be: strict or permissive or some inexplicable combination of the two! Lastly, taking the actual lesson is like one bug improvisation in front of an audience. I’ve got to be flexible with whatever happens on stage, otherwise I’ll falter! The audience (depending on your class, I suppose), will either be alert, receptive and want to see you succeed with a great lesson, or they will want to see you crash and burn so that they can have fun with the wreckage. Sometimes those improv crowds are brutal 🙂
I’m happy to say that the class was mostly the former – they do want to learn, but they also want to test me to see how much they can get away with…in that respect I suspect I am more permissive than I should be!