The most engaging teachers have a little Hollywood in them. They are playful players, making learning engaging through storytelling, dramatic language, suspense and humor.
Teachers stand amidst a tough audience. Just picture yourself in front of 30 young people who strongly believe that life is elsewhere. A few of your students may choose to be in the classroom. But most would rather be anywhere but within the confines of the classroom walls. All of your students are accustomed to being entertained by media, and so the seven hours in your presence may feel tiresome and dull.
How can we help teachers broaden their approach to communicating information? How can we elevate interest in learning?
Strike up the band and bring in the thespians! Who knows how to entertain better than actors who perform for a living? New York City schools have cut the budget for their arts programs. None of my 520 students have an art teacher.
What has replaced the art program? Test Prep! As you can imagine, this has evaporated students’ interest in the curriculum by basing teaching around test preparation. This has dampened student engagement and withered their enthusiasm for learning. One way to combat this is to work with teachers and help them develop the skills to enliven their teaching style.
My idea is to employ actors part-time to partner with teachers and help them become more dynamic and animated. Actors would observe the teachers and give pointers, demonstrate in front of the students, provide professional development workshops and create partnerships with a few teachers in the building.
I work in twelve different public schools and all of the teachers I observe could use a few sessions with an actor to coach them. As a side benefit, once you invite the actors into the schools, some may discover a love for teaching and possibly do a career shift.
Let’s employ actors to activate teachers' inner ham!