My interview with MTDES

Here is an interview I did with the Musical Theatre and Drama Education Show in 2016. I spoke at the conference on the use of Flipped Learning in creative subjects, especially with Drama and Music. It was a fantastic conference, full of energy, excitement and great ideas.

What’s your background and experience in drama teaching?

I’ve always wanted to be a drama teacher – ever since my own school experiences. After A levels I was lucky enough to read drama and education at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama before starting teaching in a school in Slough fifteen years ago. While in Slough I quickly became head of drama and created a very successful department. Having explained to my students that drama is a good career choice I decided to put my money where my mouth is and set up my own theatre company called Lemon Cake Theatre. Working as a professional theatre practitioner still inspires my teaching today, as I find a real symbiosis between teaching, practising and experimenting. When I returned to teaching I continued this style of work, developing new practices and methodologies of teaching drama. Initially this was through undertaking a Masters’ degree in Drama and Education with Middlesex University and I continue this through my blog, Burt’s Drama.

Why were you keen to be part of the MTDES programme?

I am passionate about sharing and discovering new and progressive pedagogies that I think will help both further the subject of drama and make the drama teacher’s life easier and more successful. We’ve all got a mountain to climb with the changes in the education system, be they for the better or worse, and anything that helps must be a good thing!

What are you going to be talking about to delegates at the MTDES?

I’m going to be talking about a relatively new pedagogy which has come out of America called Flipped Learning. I’ll be taking the audience through the research and exploration I’ve completed. Flipped learning had been successfully used in other contexts but at the time of my research had never been used in Drama teaching. In my practice I found it very effective when communicating the theory of practitioners, theatre history and exam centred content, allowing me more time to spend with the students to prepare for the method of assessment and help them achieve higher grades. As the pressure is going to build with the new GCSE and A level specifications, pedagogies like this are really going to be the way forward to deliver more content without taking away from practical preparation for assessment.

What is Flipped Learning?

Flipped Learning is essentially turning the traditional concept of teaching on its head. Instead of delivering a lecture at the start of the lesson, the teacher records it and gives it to the student to watch or listen to before the lesson as homework. The lesson itself then becomes about the application of that knowledge and the assessment of that application. Time is made thereby to ensure the knowledge is fully understood, applied and embedded ready for assessment.

How did you first encounter Flipped Learning yourself?

I first encounted it during research for my Masters when exploring the Kahn academy. This is a huge online library of instructional videos used by teachers in the US. I realised a huge number of teachers had already made the leap to Flipped teaching and with great academic success.

I’ve removed some of the questions and answers because they were more relevant to the conference than to my blog here, but a copy of the full interview can  be found at this website:

There is another conference this year, on the 9th and 10th February, and I would urge you to go if you can. It is free, held at the London Olympia Conference Facility and a great opportunity to make connections with other Drama teachers, professionals and suppliers.

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