Accept the noise
When everyone is working hard in the drama studio, developing different ideas into performances, there will be noise. There will be a lot of noise. You need to embrace the noise and accept it. What you must make sure is that that noise is the sound of people working hard and not the sound of people being off task. From experience, it is actually the quiet ones you need to be more aware of. If a group is being quiet, or sitting down and talking rather than making something, 8 out of 10 times they are just chatting and need to be refocused onto the work.
Have routine and structure
The best behaviour management strategy comes from prevention rather than cure. The students will thrive on having a regular routine and pattern that they come to know and expect. Simple things such as always starting with a circle, establishing expectations for the lesson ahead, a time for looking at the stimulus or text to performances in every lesson.
Always show something
It’s important that the students get to share something at the end of the lesson. This isn’t always possible in the traditional format of everyone performs to each other, but it can be done in others ways. Groups can pair up to share their work and give feedback on it. Groups could share a section of the work they’ve been working on today (if you show that same section at the beginning of the lesson, this is a great way of showing progess). One group can be selected at random. However it is done, it is important to make the students feel that the performance work is valued, even if it isn’t the main focus of the lesson.
Put them into groups
If you are firm with putting students into groups and establish that from the word go as your method of getting students into groups, then it will never be an issue. I have always had issues when I’ve said to the students you can put yourselves into groups. There is always someone left out, or groups of all boys and all girls or all the disruptive students work together.
Clear boundaries (but loose)
Drama, both in the way it is created and the product, allows you the flexibility to give students the space to be extrovert, energetic and excitable (three traits that often don’t go down so well in other subjects). Students are often excited when they arrive, so you need to have clear, fair and sometimes loose boundaries. Instead of challenging students on excitable and energetic behaviour, get them to channel it into their work.
Focus For Five
If you do have a group of students working towards something and they are finding it difficult to stay on task and not chat, then use the focus for five. Give the group five minutes to work on their own on a simple task that will either get them on their way or get them back on track. Return in five minutes to see how they have done. If they haven’t made an attempt, use the school sanctions and give use the focus for five technique again.