Reflections of 2018/2019
With the 2019/2020 academic year approaching I am spending some time over my summer holiday reflecting. Thinking about what I’ve learnt from the last academic year and what I want to focus on this year.
Starting by reflecting on what happened last year, I had a good time. I was worried because I didn’t have a Year 11 group to see through to their exams. That year group was a low point. When they chose their options I was not working very well and Drama was being pushed and squeezed out by the EBACC. A perfect storm that resulted in not enough student choosing to do Drama to form a viable group. What I thought would be a difficult year with that turned out to be a fantastic year. Fantastic because I didn’t have to focus my attention on getting exam ready. I felt that I was able to free myself from that stress and focus on engaging more with what happens elsewhere in my department.
I’ve learnt that I need to have better conversations with Year 8 students about making good drama and performances. I engaged with Year 8 far more during their lessons. I talked to them about their learning, about the performances they were creating and challenged them to make things better. I got to know them better, talked them as individuals and not as a group of Year 8’s. As a result, what they created was far more challenging, far more inventive and far more technical. They achieved much more than previous year groups, and my engagement in them transformed into their engagement with Drama. The result was a much higher uptake for GCSE Drama than I’ve had for years in my school.
I’ve learn that during my time with the GCSE students I’ve got needs to be much more focused on building knowledge and understanding of Drama. I’ve got to allow their skills in performing to develop and flourish within that atmosphere of an academic approach. GCSE Drama is not like putting on the School Production. It is an academic study of the application of knowledge, in theory and in practice. Yet, without the knowledge in place there is no worthy or viable application of it. I’ve got to be honest with myself, I’d forgotten that.
The final thing I’ve learnt is embrace what you have got. I have been lucky that I’ve been used to having large GCSE groups and taking on a school production which attracts well over 100 students every year. I’ve been used to big numbers. For the last two years I haven’t done the school production and I have struggled with numbers at GCSE. That took a lot to adjust to. For some time I’ve been reluctant to start doing extra-curricular activities because I didn’t want to get involved or play a numbers game. Going up against the school production seemed a scary thing do to. I did it, and ran a group, and realised that numbers didn’t matter. In fact I, and the students, had more fun doing our improvisation club than we had ever had doing the school production.
Intentions of 2019/2020
So moving onto next year and 2019 to 2020 (still can’t get that it’s 2020!) and what are my focus for this year.
The first is to have a greater focus on Key Terminology across all Key Stages. Having seen the improvement in my small GCSE class that working in an environment where knowledge matters as much as performance. It has been challenging. It has been seriously challenged those students who spend all their time doing shows outside of school. I’m pushing them to get out of their comfort zone whist everyone is saying to them that they are amazing, fantastic and a great performer. Naturally they’d rather hear the compliments from others than be pushed by me.
The second is to have better conversations with Year 7 students. Thinking about the improvements in Year 8, that should be happening from the very start of their time studying Drama with me. I need to start engaging with them from the very start. Engaging them with key terminology and focused verbal teacher feedback about how to improve what they are doing when they are doing it.
The final one is to engage more with extra-curricular activities. The focus is not about the quantity of students participating but the quality of experience they have. I want to do the things I’ve wanted to do but felt wouldn’t be successful because I felt they would be popular enough to get a big group. But if I have just one student, then that students experience of school and drama have been enriched by that time.