The Creative Teacher Project

An NQT Bringing Creativity to the Classroom


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It’s Not Going to be Easy, It’s Going to be Worth It.

Truth-for-Teachers-LogoThese are the final words that Angela Watson, of the Truth for Teachers podcast, leaves her listeners with each week. A former teacher and now educational consultant, Watson has become widely known for her management ideas for teachers, and especially for her (totally amazing sounding) 40 Hour Work Week Club. Her podcast is fantastic, and that’s why I thought I would share it with you today.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good inspirational podcast as much as the next person, but I do find that many of them are just that – inspirational, and not that practical. Sometimes when you’re looking for advice, or need a kick up the backside to even get in the car to go to work on a Monday morning, you need concrete suggestions on how to make the work week a little easier. Truth for Teachers is just that.

I’ve had episodes that have given me 9 Classroom Organisational Tips for the New Year, and even 5 Ways to Turn a Worksheet into a Collaborative Critical Thinking Activity. If these titles don’t get your teacher-nerd juices flowing, then I’m sorry to say, nothing will! It just happens to be incredibly handy that she posts a new episode each Monday morning, at peak “New week new me” time.

I encourage you all to go and have a listen, and maybe even a trawl through the archives to see if there’s anything that can help your particular situation.

We all know that teaching isn’t easy, but it’s podcasts like Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers that remind us that it’s absolutely worth it.

 

 

*This is an independent post and in no way affiliated with Truth for Teachers. I just love the darn podcast

 

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The National Theatre Drama Teacher’s Conference 2015: Day Two Recap

Creative Teacher Project - NT Drama Conference 1
Creative Teacher Project - NT Drama Conference 2
Creative Teacher Project - NT Drama Conference 3
Creative Teacher Project - NT Drama Conference 4

Creative Teacher Project - NT Drama Conference 5

That’s Leonard (the puppet) and I!

 

My brain was more prepared on Day 2 and I remembered to take some pictures of my sessions! Well, one of them at least!

I was supposed to be taking a session on using the NT Archive on day 2, but it was undersubscribed. Luckily, I got to sneak into the puppetry session led by Finn Caldwell and Toby Olié of the newly formed Gyre and Gimble, who worked on Warhorse (!!!!). We were taken through some of their previous works, which was distinctly mind-blowing. They also worked on The Light Princess, a musical by Tori Amos. Incidentally I was lucky enough to be at the performance of The Light Princess on the NT’s 50th Anniversary – whoop! The puppetry in that production was truly amazing, so I was thrilled to be able to hear more about behind the scenes from Caldwell and Olié.

We were then allowed to get our hands dirty, proverbially speaking. They presented us with a drama teacher’s dream – a whole roll of brown paper! It doesn’t take much when you’ve got a room full of people with amazing imaginations. They took us through a basic puppetry making workshop, focussing on the three things that make puppets come alive:

  • Breath
  • Focus/eyeline
  • Weight

We separated into groups and made our puppets, then improvised a scene where we focussed on one of the above. It was excellent fun.

I’ve worked in puppetry a bit before, and was privileged to be taught by Philip Mitchell of Spare Parts Puppet Theatre in Western Australia. Having said that, it has been years since I have properly invested time in it, and I had become so rusty, that I truthfully would have avoided puppetry in my classes. So this workshop was an excellent reminder for me of the fundamentals. I found it really sparked my imagination, and I felt immediately that lots of slightly buried information was coming back to me, along with a spot of confidence. A really worthwhile couple of hours!

The second and final masterclass of the day was a voice workshop, facilitated by NT head of voice Jeanette Nelson. She used some young actors from the current NT Production of Dara to demonstrate a series of exercises we could use in class when helping our students with vocal technique. This was exactly the sort of thing I had come to the NT hoping to participate in. It was pitched perfectly, and Nelson’s knowledge of the mechanics of our voice was second to none. It was really incredible to be able to participate in a lesson taught, not only by the best in the area, nor the country, but someone who is at the top of her field in the world. Truly amazing!

My only reflection on the voice session was that it would have been great to have a handout. Like the puppetry workshop, I have done a lot of vocal work before, but I’d be the first to admit that I haven’t practiced any of it in at least 5 years, so anything I can take away with me to refresh my brain is much appreciated.

After the class, we had a debrief about the two days and what we wanted to see more of from the NT in the future. I was glad to be able to say thank you to the team that organised the conference, as I cam away more invigorated by my new profession than I have been for a long time. It was two days well spent, in my opinion, and I will be glad to attend future events!

If you attended the NT Conference I would be so glad to hear from you – even if we disagree! Please make yourself known in the comments.


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Stretching Myself: Teaching Dance

BCC Dance Concert

Image Source – a dance concert at my old school!

Heading into a school to teach Drama this year has really stretched me. It’s been a great kind of stretch – the professional equivalent of restarting a yoga habit long since abandoned. My grasp of the content of a modern drama course is a little looser than I would like, but immersion is doing wonderful things – I find myself reading drama textbooks in bed, and looking forward to a rare free hour to read Beckett plays. I’m enjoying the ache of reusing old muscles.

A long, long time ago, however, in a galaxy that seems very far away, I used to be quite the little dancer. I managed to keep dancing even after puberty happened, and then when adolescence happened I found a dance teacher to whom I became absolutely devoted. The high pony-tailed wonder woman that was Mrs Stewart, the holistic dance teacher at my college. I adored her, and would have done anything for Mrs Stewart, but sadly, they didn’t offer TEE dance at my school, and so by year 11 and 12, my dancing was starting to slowly tail off.

It was a bit of a shock to find that even after a ten year absence, the only minor I was able to select for my Dip Ed was dance! To say that I was slightly….anxious about it was a bit of an understatement. The last time I attended regular dance classes was when Shakira was big in the charts. For real! I’ve struggled with the reality of it, but I guess that’s just it – the reality is that I will be a dance teacher. It’s a brain stretch that doesn’t feel quite so nice.

I am tremendously out of my comfort zone here. I am having to work hard to get my head around the content, and (something even more difficult) get my confidence up to a point where I’m not scared of a 13 year old saying “In my dance class we don’t do it like that…..”. I’ve decided to head back to dance classes myself – partly so that I can be the best darn dance teacher I can be (despite my initial reluctance), but maybe also a tiny to see whether dance is still a part of me. I have a feeling it might be, no matter how much of a stretch it is!