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Expectations of a Drama Teacher

Discussion in 'Drama and performing arts' started by Retro Bates, Jun 17, 2011.

  1. Retro Bates

    Retro Bates New commenter

    I know. Crazy isnt it? I have been doing it for 7 years.

    The question is where do you draw the line?. Or is 'drawing a line' only possible in other subjects?

    Life is too short, but in all fairness we do only work for half the year!
  2. It's all easy, sacrifice a personal and family life altogether, and then die before you're 60 safe in the knowledge that you have been a 'professional', and met the 'expectations' of the job. No need to worry about the pension debate, you won't live long enough.
  3. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    I've done those hours... There is no other job where you are expected to be a teacher, director, technician, costume designer, choreographer, musical director, playwright all rolled into one... In a professional theatre such roles would have individuals managing each. I am now however in a school that, to put it bluntly, doesn't want school productions. Funding and use of hall out of question. Being experienced all planning is done and walking into the classroom daily not a challenge. I leave school at 3:30 most days save for the odd meeting (no ones interested in the drama department anyway) or parents evening. Oh well.
  4. To reply to myself.
    In my teaching life i have met quite a few brilliant, utterly selfless teachers who are often women, who have no children or personal family life because of the demands of the job. Many of those women have revealed their regret at not persuing some personal happiness more, while being available at the service of their schools less.
    I have also know many careerist women teachers who are utterly changed when they become mothers and their priorities change, and the job becomes simply a job to support their families.
  5. Try being a Drama and English teacher, all of that, plus the marking . . . . Arg!

  6. Yes, you are a victim of your own enthusiasm; common with drama teachers. You will regret it later - have you got a wife and family? Do you want to keep them? Learn to pace yourself. Alternate periods of intensive working with periods when you don't do much. Plan ahead. It is a classic sign of stress when a teacher tells themselves that there is work that <u>has</u> to be done and that there is no alternative and that they are the one who has to do it ie they are indispensible. Three of my friends, excellent and very talented drama teachers, broke down under stress; none of them now teach.
    Prioritize and cut back, exams have to be your priority. Don't do a major production every year, alternate with smaller ones. Quality not quantity should be your watchword. Don't be macho about your drama teaching 'hey I've got 300 students taking GCSE Drama; how many have you got'. 'Hey, I've a thousand students in my school musical, the school down the road only has a hundred, how useless are they?' 'Hey, I work harder than you!.' Keep a sense of proportion you are not in the West End - 'My production of 'Grease' was amazing .' It wasn't - it was a school play! Watching my 'amazing' 'high standard' school plays on video 20 years after the production is quite salutary - was she really singing that flat? Was the set really that tatty? The drama teacher who first said 'I have to do a big musical because it gets bums on seats', wants putting up against a wall and shooting.
    Think about making the students work harder not you.
    Try to find systems for doing your KS3 reports. I've always used computers right from the time they first arrived in school in the 1980's. Before I left full time teaching, at the press of a button, I could write 2 sets of accurate and personal KS3 reports in an hour; all written in proper sentences and always perfectly spelt. Find a system that works for you and saves you work. Don't be too precious about KS3 reports, most parents don't give a stuff about drama reports - now if it was English or maths!
    Check out how many hours other teachers, especially the English department, put in. You'll be surprised how many hours they actually do.
  7. I would echo a lot of what Ralf has said.
    It is stressful and there are a lot of extra hours but we need to be careful of what we commit ourselves to doing. I've really found that I've had to adapt the way I work over the last few years. I can totally sympathise, Retro. I think we are often victims of our enthusiasm and we take on too much and then it becomes expectation. I think there are ways to deal with it - I'm starting to learn now after 7 years!! As an NQT or a new HoD you can be so enthusiastic you take on everything, forgetting that you will end up doing these things every year for the rest of your career!
    Ultimately exams come first. I have to accept there's a period during April/May when I will be in school long hours and I will be marking a lot and I won't get as much free time and my KS3 classes might not get enough attention. But I try to balance that with other times in the year when I try to leave school early-ish and try not to take work home on the weekends. It is a big pressure point that is exhausting and stressful but that's the nature of the job, I guess; it isn't like this all year. I have also found that, where I offer a lot of extra time to students (I used to do far more in terms of Sundays, holidays, etc.) they take it. If less is available (I've done 4 extra days this year, partly due to extra bank holidays and partly due to pressure of new GCSE coursework) they find other ways, like Ralf says, of working harder themselves.
    We do a musical once every two years and a smaller drama only event on the other year. I choose to do these as I enjoy them, they're enjoyed by the kids, they promote drama in the school and the students benefit a lot from them. I try to make them good quality (by a school's standard, not by the west end's [​IMG] ) and they're a really nice, positive event in the school calendar. But I've stopped doing all the other little bits here and there, little concerts and evening performances I tried to do. We still do bits and bobs here and there, a KS3 Showcase and the odd other thing, but nowhere near what I used to.
    I've also cut back on trips. We do the ones for the exam board (1 in Y11, 1 in Y12, 1 in Y13) and a 6th form residential which is fantastic. I don't do all the little extra ones now, though I point my students in the direction of good stuff and encourage them to take themselves. In an ideal world I'd like to take more and, if we were a big department that could share out the different trips, I would.
    As for reports, we've come up with statements to help with the millions of KS3 ones. We adapt them for each kid but we've had to do it or the time it takes is just insane.
    I also think that we sometimes do more than others but I don't think this is wholly true. (Of course there are those who do far less - their choice I guess.) I am adopted by an English department (we're separate departments but they let me live in their office!) and I am 100% sure that I don't do more than they do. Perhaps very similar but in different ways. It's more visible when I'm in on a Sunday from time to time, but I can rest assured they're at home marking 30 top set English essays. It's different but we work as hard as each other.
    I don't think it's about either or. I enjoy some of the extras and I don't want to stop doing allm these things. I don't have a huge marking load most of the year and doing clubs and rehearsals is what I do instead. I don't want to be the person who leaves on the bell and won't contribute at all. I think the balance it hard to find (I'm still looking!) but I think you have to find a way totake the pressure off. Make a list of what you want to continue to do and find a way to do less on the rest. Otherwise, you will burn out and won't be able to continue with the job.
    I hope that helps. x
  8. Crunchy nut... what an incredible post. Thanks.
  9. ... and Ralf... fab stuff!
  10. I have now been teaching 15 years in FE as a Performing arts teacher and I have now found new prejudice from the new Performing arts teachers. When I started as a new teacher I was working 32 hour contact (this is not allowed now) also I did 5 a side and a free physical theatre class as nights. I also did all the shows which was 5 in a year. Also London trips and abroad trips and I loved it, Now I am in my late 30&rsquo;s and have a baby. I cannot do these things and obviously I have delegated to new members of staff (That can opt out if they want its not in their contract) But I often get sneak looks or complaints from said staff. When I am going home at normal hours or I am not at open evenings. They sometime forget that I worked hours that they will never do I due to contract guide lines. They often make me feel work shy though I still do well over my hours
  11. This is a really interesting thread. Well said people about cutting back and not doing too much - your health and well being are far more important than school. I used to do a huge amount of extra curricular, but now I am a Mum and gone part-time I have cut right back. I made it clear that I wouldn't do a big school production or be involved with anything after school. This didn't meet with enthusiasm from my line manager, but I stuck to my guns and pointed out the stuff I was doing, and yes, it may 'only' be lunch time clubs that lead to very small projects, but they are part of the Drama culture in school and also provide community links ( often do TIE stuff with primary school next door, street theatre, visit old people's homes ). I did the main school production for years and I felt it was someone else's turn!! Also, box clever. I am doing an adaptation of The Crucible with Year 10 as part of their assessment, selling tickets, performing in our new theatre space, so it all looks good, but 95% of the rehearsals are in lessons.
    I look back to 10 years ago and can't believe what I used to do! I guess I was younger and had more energy. < sigh >
  12. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this! I am at the beginning of my career; second year as subject leader and often take on way roo much! It's refreshing to hear that it's not just me and feel I can learn alot from what you have said...prioritisation and organisation seem to be the key and not beating myself up for leaving on time once in a while.
    Thank you again :)
  13. Retro Bates

    Retro Bates New commenter

    I'm glad I started this thread. It seems that many of us are giving a tremendous amount of commitment to the cause. The little relief I am finding at the moment comes from leaving as soon as the bell goes. Purely because I have nothing to do, whereas for the past couple of years it appeared to be an expectation to stay until about 5 even if there was nothing to do. It feels good taking control.
  14. I still do a lot, but part of better time management, whilst maintaining performances, has been to rewrite the KS3 scheme of work, which I now deliver in conjunction with the music teacher.
    All 3 year groups have 3 discrete subject units of study each year, and 3 combined units. These combined units lead to performances for parents, peers, or younger childrene,g, year 9 present devised work on WWI (links too with Humanities, English etc for displays); create a T.I.E. piece for primary pupils; and present a session of Music Hall entertainment. These are performed in lesson time, to our invited audiences, and part of the process is for pupils to collect or create costume, props, set etc. It also means that reports are easier for those 3 half terms - pupils' work has been SEEN by parents!
    Another way of sharing the load has been to work with MFL on small school productions, presenting bilingual versions of well-known stories.
    We also alternate senior school musical productions with senior drama plays each year, so that there is less pressure.
    I do loads of theatre trips still, but have built up a supportive core of other staff - mostly nothing to do with drama - who want to come, too; so I only go on about 70% of those I organise.
    There are many other subjects whose staff do a lot - our sports staff are constantly on the go, at weekends and evenings, too; and for me, the practical stuff is the most enjoyable. I would reduce the hours if I felt overstretched, but the reorganisation of our KS3 teaching made a huge difference.
  15. resources4drama

    resources4drama New commenter

    It might be better to let them opt in because, as you say, it is not in their contract. (Can you actually delegate non-contractual work?).
  16. Aye theres the rub. These hours we are all talking about are in essence Non paid work.
    Our facuilty Manager actual suggested that we do all shows and rehearsals with in contracted time(as in day time time table). A good suggestion BUT we cannot get an audience during the day, we would not make money or break even if we do not do night shows. As this is FE we need a real or realish audience for them to work to. My suggestion was to time table some of the lessons at night and we would be within our working hours. Guess what we we would be finishing in april/ may instead of june/ july. So that was poo pooed.
    I calculated my hours one year and after the panto and cabaret and field trips that is in about five weeks of teaching.
    It looks like we either work more hours and do good shows. Stick with time table and do okay shows. Or do not do shows and do monologue work which in my opinion would be boring for everyone.

  17. That's part of the problem isn't it? I end up doing evening exams as school is just too chaotic in the day, especially around the theatre which is next to the PE changing rooms, and we like to have an audience. There's always something, isn't there?! And the extra-currcular shows and performances happen in the evening or else there's no opportunity for parents to come and, of course, there are increasing issues with taking them of timetable as everyone is increasingly pressured for results.

    In regards to the issue of delegation, I really feel it's only fair to ask others to do what you're prepared to do yourself. It's hard though as everyone's circumstances are different. I also think that we shouldn't necessarily have to justify why we don't want to give up endless evenings (eg. If we have kids or we have other commitments) - it's our time and if we want to go home and spend the evening reading in the bath, why do we have to explain/apologise for that?! I do think with drama there's a reasonable amount of extra time we should be prepared to give - as I said earlier, which might be comparable to the marking load of our colleagues - but there has to be a limit. We are entitled to our own time, however we choose to spend it.
  18. Apologies, I didn't paragraph that but my phone had other ideas!!
  19. I think it's easy for drama teachers to underrestimate the amount of time other teachers spend marking, as it isn't as visible as our extra-curricular work. Friends who are English teachers work some insane hours.
  20. very true
    but in the decade i have been teaching the work load has quadrupled,
    all plans (and up to date assessment grids, examples of work, ieps, strategies for sen ) on a4 detailed format stored centrally in folders so smt can check) for every class and if they notice that you didnt write down bobby needs his work on green paper despite the fact you have taught him for years and its a practical lesson then you will be questioned over it. the amount of whole school checks on your marking is stupid atm. school policy is policy at my school and all subjects matter so i am forever discussing the est way to evidence yes we record but we need written evidence on each student etc i agree for ks4 but ks3?
    we have staff leaving in droves and i can count on my hands the number of staff still there after 5 years. it is a very demanding school. it was said by a lovely colleague who after 2 years has just handed in her notice that there is a sadness in the school due to being ground down by smt and the million hoops we seem to jump through. shes leaving before she feels sad.
    i also now dont just just teach drama and performing arts..but 5 other subjects as well that i am not trained to teach!
    i am responsible for - usual teacher stuff tutor etc but i write all drama sow, assignment briefs for PA, im lead iv for music , support nqts in other subjects areas go to middle management meetings etc yet am not paid a tlr- but i feel i hve ownership over my subject area so??

    however when it comes to shows - i dont do any eveing or weekend rehearsals, we do 3 musicals/show a year one y9 btec, one y10 btec and one y11 btec all shows are part of their course. if we need a bigger chorus we have lower school volunteers and the btec kids meet them during luch breaks and teach them the dances etc ( i am there but like students to teach students) the performances are in the evenings. we do a whole day off timetable for dress and tech. afterall these are assessed pieces and so same as a revision class. we have smaller performances for units like ensembles and performing scripted plays these usually start at 4 and are for family and friends to watch.
    i am married with three young children and i want to be an excellent teacher but an even better mum and wife.
    i find this creates a balance


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