As a theatre teacher I believe that I am giving my students not only the opportunity to explore what they know and love about drama, but also the opportunity to learn and grow into more well-rounded, tolerant, and responsible citizens of the world. Theatre students have the unique opportunity to learn in a specialized field that encourages confidence, good public speaking skills, empathy, and many other skills essential to successful social interaction. My teaching works to facilitate students' understanding of theatre itself as well as the role it plays in society and the different potentials it offers. My teaching philosophy can be summarized in the following points:
Student-Centered: It is important that students are invested in what they are studying as it will encourage them to engage actively with the materials and begin to recognize the parallels to their own lives. I engage students in a number of different aspects of a single topic so that they are free to explore further anything they find particularly interesting. I present material in a multi-faceted way so that students are able to attach to something and run with it.
Open discussion and tolerance: All students have different opinions, experiences, and beliefs and in my classroom it is of utmost importance that all of these are addressed fully and respectfully. Through open discussion of thoughts and feelings students will learn not only to truly listen to each other and respect points of view different from their own, but they will also become more confident and articulate in the exploration of their own thoughts and ideas.
Social responsibility: Theatre is a powerful tool for invoking social change. Many important social issues have an effect on students every day and much of the material in the theatre world discusses these important social issues. I pay particular attention to the issues that most affect my students and incorporate them into lessons so as to draw parallels to the real world, and provide an open environment in which the students can discuss their thoughts and feelings related to these issues safely and with confidence.
Life skills: Through the practice of drama students will develop a number of very useful tools that they will be able to use beyond the stage. Involvement in theatre encourages critical thinking skills, confidence, responsibility, organization, and innovation. Frequent study and performance of theatrical pieces improves public speaking and collaboration skills. Through my teaching I aim to nurture the development of these skills and explore their importance in order to help my students use them to achieve greater success later in life.
Support and patience: Students learn in different ways, and at varying speeds, the remarkable thing about drama is that is has something for everyone. All students are able to learn from a theatre experience or work in a drama classroom because the work is so personal. It is of utmost importance that students feel supported and safe in my drama classroom so that they know they are in a place where it is okay to take risks, and to try something new because in their own time, each student will “get it” if they have the support, encouragement, and space to take things at their own pace.
Diversity of Instruction: All students learn and express their understanding in different ways, and so I accommodate all types of learners. Through the use of film clips, short performances, lectures, and handouts, I employ a number of methods in which the students are able to demonstrate their understanding of a particular topic. For example, students may choose to perform a monologue, write a paper, design a set, create a director's book, or develop their own project that they feel demonstrates their understanding.
Flexibility and Growth: Just as all students are different, each class is different. Because of this, my approach to theatre and the design of my lessons varies with each class I work with. I design lessons that are interesting to students, will share relevant information, and are up to date with modern theatre and teaching practices. I am as much a learner as my students are, so I maintain a strong connection with current research, teaching practices, and theatre trends so that I am able to best work with my students and deliver fresh material and experiences to learn from. This allows me to offer the richest classroom experience I am able to for my students.