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Acting Lessons for Teachers

Acting Lessons for Teachers

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Published by: cem balcikanli on Sep 27, 2010
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11/22/2012

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St. John’s River Community College

One of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches comes from As You Like It. “All
the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” It is a metaphor
that describes life as a stage and all people as actors. It is a concept that has been
viewed through many different perspectives. As an educator, I propose a similar
metaphor for the world of education. Teaching is a performing art, and all who
serve as educators are front and center on their own personal stage every single
school day. With over twenty-five years of teaching experience, I have had a
great deal of time to consider this comparison of teaching to the arts. I believe
that there are many similarities between the theater and the classroom. Let me
explain:

Stage/Set: A pleasant classroom environment, conducive to learning
Props: Equipment that makes the teaching appropriate and effective
Curtain: Covers the stage (or props) and adds to audience anticipation
Director: The instructor who molds the actors into better, more gifted
performers
Leading Actors: Class leaders who set the stage
Supporting Cast: The quiet or the disruptive student who often gets lost in
the scene
Playwright: Represented by your curriculum
Script: Your syllabus, lesson plans, and class schedule
Audience/Critics: Students, peers, and administrators important to the
success of the performance

Act I: Clarifying the Roles

Good actors on Broadway must study their script, learn to use props, and
become comfortable on stage—all components necessary to present an outstand-
ing performance. Teachers also must accomplish these skills. The teachers we
remember most vividly are those who knew their subjects best and transmitted
them with the greatest intensity and love (Banner and Cannon 1997). It was this
conviction and love for learning that got me started teaching the way I do.

Act II: Presenting the Show

The first step to promote active learning in your classroom is to begin with
low-risk strategies. They are typically of short duration, structured and planned,
focused on subject matter that is neither too abstract nor too controversial, and

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Acting Lessons for Teachers

familiar to both the instructor and the students (Bonwell and Eison 1991).
Faculty can get over their “stage fright” by gradually introducing new teaching
techniques, such as humor, drama, music, role-playing, simulations, cooperative
learning, computer-based instruction, questioning, writing, peer teaching, and
games.

Act III: Reading the Reviews

Just like actors, teachers risk failure or success. Some will feel quite com-
fortable with the new teaching format, whereas others will protest kicking
and screaming. Many feel that they will lose control of their class, not have
enough time to cover all their course content, or not have the needed equip-
ment or materials or that using active learning will take too much prepara-
tion time. Solution: Focus interest on the students and what will be best for
them. A faculty member’s ability to relinquish control and share power in
the classroom can enable students to become actors playing major roles in
their own education rather than simply being an audience listening and
learning from a great performer on center stage (Bonwell and Eison 1991).
Take the challenge and become the STAR that you can be!

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