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How To Become A Drama Teacher, And A Good One At That?

By Jon, published on 09/04/2018 We Love Prof - AU > Tutoring > Advice for Tutors > Helpful Advice On How To Become A Drama Teacher

About Teaching Drama

Many joke about the quote, “He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches”, but ironically any teacher will tell you that teaching is far from easy and you need more than just basic skills. Yet, despite how tiring, emotional, bumpy and sometimes draining the road to teaching careers is, most teachers will admit they love the job!

So, why is working with children in Pedagogy such a rewarding profession to be in and what education programs are there that can help kick start your career?

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Training To Become A Teacher

If you want to pursue becoming a teacher, there are a few different pathways you can follow. You may, for example, obtain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), known as a Teaching Qualification (TQ) in Scotland. You should be educated to at least A Level in the content area you wish to teach, as a passion for the subject is key. Most teachers will have studied their discipline at A Level or as a higher subject on the International Baccalaureate programme of study.

So, if you wish to be a Science teacher, you should have taken Biology, Chemistry and Physics to at least A level (if not further) and, similarly, if you wish to be a Drama teacher then you should ideally have studied English Language and Literature as well as Drama during your own early childhood and secondary education. If you are bilingual, then you may wish to choose a language subject like French or Spanish, depending on your experience. Here, however, we focus on what you need for Drama studies.

In addition, it is vital for any education teacher (and especially one in any teaching job related to English, English Literature and Drama Studies) to have strong literacy skills and be able to check spelling in written work as well as lead by example in terms of language proficiency.

Furthermore, teacher certification can be achieved later in life. You could opt for an undergraduate degree, like a BA in Education (also referred to as a Bachelor’s degree), which automatically awards you with a QTS, or you can return to study for a teaching qualification after your initial degree, which is called a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). In Scotland, you will recognise this as a PGDE, a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education.

A GTP is a teacher training course which requires you to work as you train, so you will effectively be teaching and learning at the same time while you work towards gaining your teacher credentials.

What To Expect From Being A New Drama Teacher

As a newly-trained drama teacher, you might be surprised to find that you are spending hours preparing lessons in line with the national curriculum. Unlike some other more academic subjects though, drama will allow you to use creativity and come up with innovative ways to teach your lessons. You can, for example, use games, storytelling or role-play to make classes interactive and fun.

Your role as a Drama teacher, however, isn’t just to put together the school Christmas play. Drama, like English Literature, requires a lot of coursework and research which you will be responsible for setting and marking throughout the school year. As such, any written tasks will need to be read thoroughly and criticised with constructive and encouraging feedback.

In addition, you will be responsible for helping your class to prepare for exams, which are assessed by external moderators, so you must know your curriculum’s requirements. You may also be charged with organising theatre trips, cultural outings and you will most certainly have to participate in after school activities like Parent-Teacher evenings.

School trips to the theatre are normally part and parcel of a drama class. As a drama teacher, you might be required to organise cultural school trips. Photo credit: Jonck52648 on VisualHunt.com

If all of this sounds like a lot of solitude or student interaction time, then don’t worry, you will get a chance to talk to adults too! You will be asked to attend various departmental meetings with other teaching staff, attend training days and go on social evenings with your fellow staff.

What Salary Can I Expect From A Drama Teaching Role?

Teacher jobs in the UK are paid according to a standardised pay scale, set out by the Department of Education, which means that all of the teachers in your school will be paid roughly the same teacher salary for their level of experience and responsibility due to these predetermined pay bands.

New teachers outside of London usually have a starting salary of just over £21,500 per annum, while those in the capital can expect to get paid in excess of £23,000 (and up to £27,000) depending on how centrally they are based. This is due to the higher cost of living and transport in central areas.

A qualified, experienced drama teacher could be earning up to £31,500 (or £36,000 in London) just by moving up the pay scale incrementally, yet if you become an Advanced Skills Teacher (AST), you have the potential of an increased salary. You can ask your superiors about eligibility for this teaching certification.

With many professions offering starting salaries of between £18,000 and £20,000 and requiring you to work your way up to a better salary over long periods of time, this goes to show that teaching offers a great salary and a clear path to progressing and obtaining higher earnings.

How To Teach A Drama Class?

Despite what many think, the Drama curriculum (GCSE/A level) is not all about rehearsing lines and performing plays by Shakespeare. Just like any other creative subject in the school system, there is an element of knowledge required about the field.

This means that reading, writing and analysing texts will almost always come into play at some point during the term. But that doesn’t mean to say that 50% of your lessons need to be quiet and uninspiring, you can still make research and analysis work fun for all.

Where Drama differs from other academic subject, is in the structure of lessons. Many teachers are forced to prepare lessons within the confines of a classroom space week after week whereas, as a drama teacher, you should have access to a wider range of settings in which to deliver your lessons. For instance, you should have access to a timetable of availability for your school hall, with a number of hours dedicated to your department, allowing you to plan theatrical activities.

Similarly, as a creative subject that is steeped in culture and history, there are so many worthy excursions that you can take your pupils on, which can themselves feed into subsequent lessons and help you to support a teaching requirement of the curriculum.

Many new teachers are bursting with exceptional ideas to try out on their classes, but some find the first year or two of teaching quite daunting while they find they feet. If you are in need of some ideas, then keep reading to find some great in-class activities that will get your pupils excited about your Drama classes.

How To Create Cool Drama Lessons?

The subject of Drama itself is already quite a cool one: it’s creative by nature and it’s much more freeing than other subjects. That said, as a teacher, you still must find ways to make some of the more tedious tasks much more interesting for your pupils, and dare we say ‘cool’. Most teachers will aspire to being someone that has taught wisdom and knowledge to their students, but it is equally satisfying to be remembered years later as ‘the cool Drama teacher who taught fun lessons’!

So how can you create cool drama lessons?

No matter the subject, there is always room for creativity in your lesson plans! Even the most complex subjects, like solving algebraic equations, can be made more interesting and interactive by using alternative methods. One website suggests an equation clock and encourage students to learn about algebra while also developing their time-telling skills.

Obviously, it is easier to prepare fun activities for primary or prep school children, as younger students will be more imaginative with basic games and concepts (even just a sing-song can inject some fun into a lesson for under 10s!).

If teaching Drama to young pupils, there are endless opportunities to make lessons fun. For instance, you can teach from picture books, allowing the pupils to have visual prompts and basic lines to read from. You may also like to encourage little ones to paint images which depict the stories you are focusing on. Otherwise, there’s charades, puppets and musical games to get stuck into.

Stdents tend to engage with visual activities more than reading from books. Puppets are a good way to teach younger pupils about drama. Photo on VisualHunt

For GCSE-aged students, you may need to up your game. Play games in class and risk losing all credibility for belittling them, but make lessons too serious and they might lose all interest.

It is a very tough balancing act with teenagers – so be prepared for some disheartening lessons in the life of a teacher! When you do get it right though, it is all the more satisfying and rewarding! (Also, remember that you can’t and won’t please everyone, so if more than half of your class seem to be enjoying the lesson, then you’re doing a good job.)

Suggestions For School Trips

Stratford-Upon-Avon

Stratford-upon-Avon is one of the best places you can go to bring Shakespeare to life for your drama students. On a trip to the playwright’s hometown, you can go backstage at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), watch a performance of his famous plays, take part in a Drama workshop and visit some key sites in the writer’s life.

If you are at a London-based school, you could always arrange a trip to see a Shakespeare play at the Globe Theatre instead, situated in the London Borough of Southwark.

Pupils can watch a performance of one of Shakespeare's famous plays at The Globe. The Globe is a great place to get a feel for Shakespeare’s plays. Photo credit: KatieThebeau on Visual Hunt

The Rainbow Factory

The Rainbow Factory, located in Farsley, is an attraction for kids that specialises in creative storytelling. It not only inspires children with theatre, it also encourages them to enjoy reading and to use their imagination, so this would be a great place to visit as a joint English and Drama school trip.

Theatre Workshops

If you don’ have the budget to spend on school trips, then you might like to organise a workshop at your own school to bring a bit of variety. Theatre Workshops visit schools with fun-filled activity workshops led by trained actors. Your pupils will no doubt be wowed by their expertise and knowledge and, as always, will be more respectful and absorbed because of the fact that they are professionals visiting the school.

What Not To Do As A Drama Teacher

Have you ever seen the Cameron Diaz film, Bad Teacher? As its name suggests, Diaz is not a very good source of inspiration throughout the most-part! While some think that drama is all about watching films and plays, standing around talking and doing breathing exercises, it is your job to show them that there is so much more to the subject!

  • Limit how much television you watch during lessons. Watching adaptations on screen can be very beneficial, but you might like to choose individual scenes that support your lesson to show rather than putting on an entire production that takes up an entire hour.
  • Don’t get offended by students who don’t take your lessons seriously. This goes for teachers of all subjects, but as a Drama teacher who is often required to ‘show them how to do it’ or lead by example, it can be easy to take offence by comments made by pupils.
  • Don’t spend all of your evenings setting up lessons for the following day. Don’t get me wrong, being dedicated as a teacher is so important and every teacher goes into the profession knowing that they will have to give up a lot of their free time, but there is no remuneration or reward for staying late in your classroom setting up games, painting display boards, making costumes and sets or planning other creative lessons ever single night. Being creative is vital, but it is possible to overdo it and for pupils to be less impressed by the more effort you make.

Where To Teach Drama Lessons?

The obvious answer here is in schools, colleges or universities, but educational establishments aren’t the only way that you can teach others about your passion. You might be able to get a job as a Drama teacher at a children’s hospital, a private household or even a care home. If you want to keep your options open for other job prospects, then you have the opportunity also to try teaching as a career part-time whilst you consider alternative job openings.

Also, remember that you don’t have to commit to one school, so if it’s variety you are after, you have the option to become a freelance teacher who travels from school to school and meets different pupil at every turn.

For example, many individuals seek independent Drama classes in the evening and at weekends, whether just for fun or because they want to gain confidence through performing. Perhaps they are looking to be a part of a village play, or they have bigger dreams to tackle the world of entertainment. Either way, Drama lessons can provide them with a foundation and specific skills to build upon.

If setting up a business of your own, you may not even need a teaching qualification. However, for your own credibility, being highly trained with relevant qualifications will really benefit you and your reputation. In addition, if you are to accept under 18s in your classes, all staff will need to have an up to date DBS (Disclosure of Barring Services).

Another option that could be available to you is to become a private tutor. Private tutors are high in demand at the moment because of how increasingly hard GCSEs are becoming, and allow you to schedule one-to-one lessons with struggling pupils to help them to understand the subject better. Not all clients have a poor level in the subject, some may already be working at a very good pace but looking for some extra help because they have a flair for it and want to do the best they possibly can in their exams.

You might even consider online tutoring jobs via Skype to bring drama to less accessible areas or physically impaired students.

Furthermore, teaching Drama is not your only option. If you were interested in being a coach to stars, then you might like to consider a move into acting coaching. Once again, if you want to know your job inside-out, you’ll probably want to have been through many of the same experiences yourself: auditions, preparing headshots, going to acting workshops, etc…

Why Become A Drama Teacher?

But none of the above matters if you don’t want to become a Drama teacher, as teaching is not a career that you can simply dip in and out of. Teaching is a lifestyle and requires a certain level of commitment to your education family. Moreover, you can’t have a break in your career as a teacher for very long without having to retrain – teaching, and especially teaching drama, means that you have to keep yourself up to date on modern techniques.

Here are just some reasons why becoming a teacher, and more specifically a teacher of Drama, can be so rewarding.

  1. To Influence A Generation

As you’ll remember from your younger years, students need a passion for (or at least a strong interest in) a subject and many need this to be ignited by a truly inspiring teacher. This is where you come in.

But as well as wanting to help them along their journey, teachers normally wind up caring deeply for their students and want to be a dependable person who they can come to for support and encouragement.  They want to help prepare their students for the real-world, not only in the sense of teaching them about a specific subject matter, but by also teaching them lessons in life and inspiring them to do more and believe themselves.

  1. To Fulfil A Calling

Whilst all teachers are dedicated to their profession and those that they have a responsibility for, some find planning and teaching lessons more challenging than others. Many teachers, when asked why they became a teacher, won’t be able to give you any reason other than: they were just meant to be a teacher.

If you have a desire to inspire the youth of today, share your ideas and knowledge and observe pupils develop over time, then the chances are that a career in teaching is calling you! Likewise, many come from a family of teaching professionals and they simply feel that they were born to teach.

  1. To Fill You With Confidence

While the rewards concerning students and their achievements are far greater in meaning than any personal gain, there is still some room for a bit of feeling good about yourself. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a student grasp a concept and realising that it was you that helped that to happen. Plus, seeing a passion for a subject ignite in a pupil could mean that you have helped shape that person’s life to a certain extent.

If not thanks to your class, then you will learn self-confidence through careful preparation, planning and performance. In your classroom, you are centre-stage so there is no room for nerves or fear.

  1. School Holidays

There’s no denying it, the school holidays are a big draw for trainee teachers.

Many people consider the profession for the first time purely because of the promise of a long summer (though little did they realise that school life is hard!). Of course, there are pros and cons to having no flexibility during term-time and all the time in the world during the busy school holidays, yet there’s no other job which can offer you six consecutive weeks off each year.

If you work at a private school, you might get up to eight weeks off in the summer, three weeks off at Easter and two-three weeks off at Christmas, but this usually comes hand in hand with a much more intense term-time.

Most teachers get six weeks off over the summer. As a teacher, you can look forward to relaxing school holidays. Photo credit: perzonseo on Visual hunt

  1. To Make Friends With Other Teachers

As a teacher, you spend a lot of time with pupils, but you also have time to interact with other teachers like yourself in staff meetings, socials and around the staff room in between lessons. Just like most professions, there is no better feeling than having a good chinwag with people who share the same interests as you.

You can share stories, advice, encouragement and you can even inspire one another to be better teachers. Rumour has it that teachers are often drawn to other teachers because of their similar passion and lifestyle, so you may even make a romantic connection through working in a school!

You may be interested in teaching your craft independently: if so, why not search Superprof for tutoring jobs London?

  1. Because It Is Fun

Teachers take their responsibilities very seriously, but everyone has their style of teaching.

Whether you are strict or cool, there is no harm in having fun occasionally. Games and other engaging activities have been proven to help students learn more, so this is a job that you can have some real fun in! And what better way to spend your day, than leading stimulating and entertaining lessons? It sure beats the idea of sitting at a desk all day…

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