Acting Lessons for Teachers: Using Performance Skills in the Classroom

Acting Lessons for Teachers: Using Performance Skills in the Classroom

Acting Lessons for Teachers: Using Performance Skills in the Classroom

Acting Lessons for Teachers: Using Performance Skills in the Classroom

Synopsis

Teachers find themselves competing with high-powered media to win the attention and interest of students. Many are adopting a variety of performance skills to reach, hold, and convey information to a diverse and demanding audience. Tauber and Mester stress the essential qualities that make up a good teacher/actor: deep familiarity and understanding of the subject matter, use of a battery of communication skills, enthusiasm for the subject matter, and evidenced love of the art and craft of teaching/learning. Lessons taught involve the use of physical and vocal animation, classroom humor, space, teacher role-playing, props, suspense, and surprise. Each lesson contains actual examples and scripts with testimony as to their effectiveness by award-winning college faculty. An entertaining and effective manual for all levels of teachers, sure to inspire clever and effective new ways of teaching and learning.

Excerpt

It is not who you are but what you do that conveys enthusiasm.

--Anonymous

Boosting teacher effectiveness through performing

The point of chapter 1 was that more effective teachers are perceived as more enthusiastic teachers. Teacher enthusiasm, in turn, often leads to greater student achievement. the question, now, is how can teachers become more enthusiastic? As the quotation at the beginning of this chapter says, "It is not who you are but what you do that conveys enthusiasm."

Years ago, one of the authors supervised student teachers. Prior to entering the classroom for the first time, many of these student teachers had bouts of severe anxiety -- they had the actor's version of stage fright. in an effort to calm their nerves, the author reassuringly offered this profound statement: "Don't worry. Just go in there, and be yourself." in hindsight, this was terrible advice to give because many of these student teachers were, in fact, rather boring people. If they went into the classroom and "remained themselves," they would have been boring teachers. We can't imagine a director telling stage-frightened actors to just go on stage and "be themselves."

According to Hanning (1984, 33), "You [teachers] don't have a 'self' to be when you start out as a teacher, that is you don't have a teacher-self. You have to develop one, and you do that by acting a part, by performing a role . . . as you would (in) a theatre." Teachers should present their subject matter in much the same way effective salespersons and performing artists do. Teachers can enhance their versatility by using the same tools of the trade as performing artists.

At first glance performing a role -- acting a part -- may appear out of place to some educators. It shouldn't. in many ways, teaching in the classroom is not unlike acting on the stage or in the cinema. in both the theater and the classroom, the character on stage must hold the attention of the listeners . . .

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