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At My Wits' End... Need some help enthusing the kids!

Discussion in 'Drama and performing arts' started by dramateacher075, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. Agh! Sounds exactly like the situation I was in a few years ago.
    One thing which really suprised me that my nighmare year 9s enjoyed was sitting reading a play out loud as a class.Especially "Our Day Out" or "Teechers".
    They don't have to perform every lesson. They could also watch dvd clips and talk about the acting. They could also do some work backstage work on lighting and costume design.
    Keep praising and rewarding thoose who are performing and do not allow any negative comments.Seperate the most hard line "I am not performing" and give them a clipboard and another task to do - e.g. 'director' of the best behaved group. or Doing the sound fx. Reward them if they do this task. Once the ring leaders are removed the others may well perform.
    Most of all give yourself a break.

  2. thanks for all the advice, I am thinking of 'starting from scratch' with some classes over exactly what drama is....

    I've just received my copy of Sue Cowley's 'Getting the B*****s into Drama' (still waiting on second book) and so far it's very good although she suggests a game called 'Poor *****' which would never work in any school i ever worked in... I shall adapt it to poor cat!
  3. You can do it!

    'Drama games for those who like to say no' By Chris Johnston. New book, out about a month. Should help you 'trick' them into perfroming.
    Best of luck!
  4. Thanks Pinkeyes, I'll look that book up!
  5. me too !!!
  6. Totally agree with the other posters, forget yr 9. Do lessons that involve them watching films and identifying drama techniques like freeze frame etc and writing their own scripts etc. anything that is drama based but not performing based.
    Unless you want to spend more time with them try going for things they will do rather than busting a gut doing lessons they won't take part in and then giving them a detention for not participating... All that happens there is that you spend two hours with them not doing what you want them to, you get frustrated, they hate you for setting detention and they won't choose it as an option anyway. Work on a 3 year plan and focus on yr 7 and current year 6's, that way you keep your sanity and enthusiasm for your subject and know that you'll get there in the end. Chin up!
  7. Reading your post has struck a chord with me - I am not alone!! It is so demotivating having to come to these kinds of lessons each week, and to try to enthuse these students seems almost impossible. I have a situation currently (Y9 Friday P5...) which is simialr to yours. They do not want to do anything, they cannot work with each other and spend their time chatting, sitting blankly or running around and hiding on the stage behind the curtains. Its a fun way to end the week... I usually go home close to tears, cannot face keeping them fro detention as I have had enough and dont want to break in front of the kids.
    However, I have tried a few things which are looking like they are staring to work.
    I have been playing some teamwork and problem solving games (put in a saving the world context) which gets the students working together - things like crossing the room on 4 chairs with your team (shark infested custard type activities) your PE department might have some good little games like this you could try.
    I have done some circle games where students can pass if they are not up for joining in so it gives them the option to be passive for now. I have used paper plates being passed around the circle each person has to mine what they are using them for eg: sunglasses, mirror, headphones etc. They found this quite engaging and we went round a fair few times too.
    Focusing on circle games and quick fire response games work well and have no pressure of a performance.
    I have not cracked them completely by any means, however, lessons aren't anywhere near as hellish and I am able to focus on the positives and give praise as much as posible which is much less stressful for me.
    I am aware at this time of the year lots of Y9 will only have about 10 lessons left (that is about it!!) and so I feel that enabling them to work together and improving thier social skills is a much more productive use of time rather than trying to plug away at traditional drama.
    Not sure how helpful this is, as I know I'm not coming from a perfectly successful place, but the advice is there if you want it.
    Good luck!! x
  8. find the hook: what's the story? what will engage them? refocus so its on the story not the performance skills. I have found this age love true stories. Mark Wheelers Missing Dan Nolan is a cracker (would they have left their friend? should they have taken the alcohol? etc) and I have seen one teacher do an amazing series of sessions on the Hillsborough disaster (Tony Bland). Become the storyteller and build the intrigue. I have explored Sophie Lancaster's 'story' (sorry for phrase!) to open up wider issues so that it becomes a space of debate using drama forms. Gary reinbach's story debating social and medical responsibility, human rights etc. They respond better if they can relate and the person is someone of a similar age. (sorry to refer to these as stories when they are real people's lives!)
    There is a great techniques called 'placing the text' (Needlands) that if done well works wonders. Spend time setting the whole story from the start with the idea of hooking them in to the narrative. Also consider Heathcote's "if" so they are saying that they would do if it were them not acting/performing etc.
    I also find mask work can be useful with these type of groups as it takes away some of the embarrassment, the can literally hide but also with some masks (like trestle) its actually quite hard to see so they have to be quite disciplined. good luck changing perceptions in the school!!

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