The Creative Teacher Project

An NQT Bringing Creativity to the Classroom


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Practicum: Week One

Slightly fatigued after my first week!

 

It’s Friday afternoon, my mentor teacher has gone for the week and I’m sitting at what is my desk for the period and looking out over an expansive oval outside my window. It’s been a pretty great week.

I was apprehensive about starting practicum as I didn’t feel as prepared as I would have liked. Luckily day 1 was a staff PD day, which was a great introduction to the school without the pressure of being chucked straight into classes. I’ve been allocated 5 classes to teach and participate in: 1 year 7 class (age 12), 2 year 8 classes (13 years) and 2 year 10 classes (15). They are all rehearsing for an upcoming variety night showcase, and so I wont get to get my teeth fully into teaching them for another two/three weeks.

So far I have enjoyed:

Being welcomed to the school by the Principal on Day 1. Being introduced to staff members and having other staff introduce themselves to me out of the blue. It might sound like a tiny thing, but as a prac student, I am definitely on the back foot and it’s the sum total of these tiny acts that make me feel included and welcome at the school.

I’ve definitely enjoyed being around the students. This is a girl’s school, something I’ve never experienced before, and to be honest I was worried that they might be a little aloof. I couldn’t have been more wrong. These kids are not only totally delightful, but passionate about drama and so want to be there! It feels like such a treat.

This week has challenged me because:

I feel like a bit of a fraud, and it seems like all of my drama knowledge has evaporated out of the window, and I don’t know what to teach. As I sat in our IT induction I had to remind myself that everyone feels out of their depth, and that everyone feels like they don’t know what they’re doing (at least) half the time. Deep breaths, Sam. It will come. I just have to stay calm and be ready to do some research. No biggie.

I have also struggled with a bit of shyness this first week, although again, I think that’s pretty normal. Just have to pluck up my courage and talk. I learned a great strategy from my mother’s partner, who said that people really actually want to talk about themselves, so if I ask a lot of questions, then it wont be long before people open up and chat my ear off! it seems to be working….mwah hah hah…

Something I’ve found interesting:

Early in the week I found myself circulating around groups in class because I felt as though I had to, but then about Thursday morning I realised that I wasn’t taking the opportunity that was right in front of me! When I’m observing a class, I don’t need to be the one that is making sure they’re getting on with their work, I should take the opportunity to learn more about the student! I should ask what work they like doing, what work they absolutely hate, and what they like about their teacher’s strategies. Use it as a time for market research! It’s a great opportunity to workshop ideas as well, and see if I can’t come up with a few week’s worth of lessons that they will find engaging.

 

All in all, it’s been possibly the best week I could have hoped for. I’m sure there will be difficult days ahead, and that not all lessons will go to plan, but hey, that’s life. I’m just relieved that it has gone so well so far.  I’ll keep in touch!

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Shaped Like Disaster

Annie and Sandy

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Well I guess it was bound to happen – my first lesson today was a massive failure, and so I’ve spent the rest of the day trying to pick myself up and dust myself off, but I fear I’m in dire need of a weekend transfusion, and a maybe a prescription for an attitude adjustment to boot.

It didn’t start out well – I have been so wiped out this week that I thought an extra ten  minutes in bed was in order, I mean I could always get the next train and still be on time. NO SAM. YOU WILL NOT BE ON TIME. Our friendly neighbourhood transport system had other plans, evidently, and the next train was cancelled, followed by an express that didn’t stop, followed by a ten minute late train so crammed full of commuters that the windows were completely obscured by morning breath condensation. YAY.

So I was twenty minutes late for school, and just made it through the door for form time. I absolutely hate being late, and this is because I am usually late and always embarrassed. Especially on prac too, I am trying to demonstrate that I am reliable, and will make a good teacher, and I really don’t think tardiness adds any of that. So I was feeling a little down.

Period 2 was my smaller dance class. We’re looking at music theatre, and today was Annie! I have always loved that film, and even more so since playing an orphan in my Year 8 production. I knew it appeals to young teenagers, even if they pretend it doesn’t! But could I get the film to play? No. Could I connect to the internet to show a Youtube clip? No. Would another projector work? No. Lesson received loud and clear, O God of Technology! I should have made a sacrifice before the lesson. Lesson learned for sure.

The students behaved admirably, however, and so I am very grateful for that. I knew they didn’t want to get into it, but I think that our previous lessons have made them want to try a little bit for me. Thank you, blessed Year 9s. Never thought I’d say that!

After the lesson I had to throw myself on the mercy of the IT department. It sometimes feels as though nothing pleases them more than hearing you say something is “urgent”, just like the 25 other things that they’ve been asked to do. Happily, in this case Mr IT came through and I was up and running in no time. Just in time to teach the lesson all over again……thankfully it went a little better!


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I Taught a Class!

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!