Tips for teaching drama in a classroom

How do you adapt your practical drama lessons into a classroom environment? The goal is not to reinvent the wheel but to adapt what you have already got to fit the purpose of where you are.

Remember your limitations

It is important that we start by accepting the situation and the limitations that that provides us. These are challenges that we are quite capable of overcoming. The chances are that your students will be in rows, possibly paired up with someone else. They will all be facing forward and unlikely to be able to turn to face each other without the use of a face covering. As a teacher you will have to operate from the front of the classroom and be unable to circulate around the room as you may have previously done. Your school may have further limitations that you need to take into consideration.

Whatever your limitations, they are important to take into consideration and you should not be phased or scared of them. They are a challenge for you to accept and overcome.

Keep the same structure as before

There is no need for you to suddenly change the structure of your lesson from what you might have delivered in the Drama Studio. What you must make sure you do is keep those same routines as you had prior to being in the classroom. If you started with some retrieval exercises, keep doing them. If you started with a warm up activity, then keep doing them. The structure needs to remain the same but the approach to the different activities will need adapting to suit the new environment.

Make small adjustments in the activities you do.

Try to adapt activities to suit the new environment before you create a new one to replace it. As a teacher you are already familiar with the lesson content so adapting the task will most likely make you more comfortable about it. The new environment of the classroom is perfect for voice work, detailed pair work and solo work. Can you turn the script into a radio play? Can the students analyse and annotate the script for how they would perform the piece? Can the students write a thorough pitch for a performance instead of devising it, and then perform a small section of it using only their voices?

Adapt your pace

Working in the classroom has a different pace than in the Drama Studio. With so much focus in a normal Drama Studio environment being on verbal communication the pace can be quite quick. Ideas are shared and developed in minutes as students listen, interrupt and finish each other’s sentences. The classroom environment tends to be a bit slower. The discussion is more focused on specifics and details. The quick fired debate is replaced by a slower more analytical approach. Things may take longer to complete than they would have done in the Drama Studio or done with outcomes that you were not expecting.

Move some elements of the lesson online.

If you can, move some of the learning online. For instance, it would be advisable to move vocabulary online. Use a quiz-based learning programme (like quizlet) so that you can monitor who is doing it and how they are doing. Another way might be to develop a flipped learning practice by moving some of the learning content into videos and ask the students to watch them as homework. As long as you reinforce the learning that took place away from the classroom it can free up the time in the classroom for the students to focus on developing their work.

Set the physical work as homework

Give the class monologues to work on. In the classroom focus on character development and vocal work. For homework, ask them to block the performance physically.