Thursday, August 11, 2016

Classroom management in the theatre class

Classroom Management techniques for the Theatre Classroom.

As a theatre teacher classroom management is a very unique challenge. On one hand, most of my students love my class and want to be in it. On the other hand, most of my students are performers and love being a class clown/ center of attention/ never stop talker. It is a fine line managing the silliness and talking without stomping their spirit.

Theatre also has to be a safe space. You cannot foster creativity and risk taking if students do not feel safe. Creating a safe space is something I work at almost every day in class. I think that sometimes students don't realize how much lower their words have over eachother. They say something trying to be silly or sarcastic and their words stick with eachother and make it so the actors don't want to want to "look silly" and try new things. So how do we create a space that fosters creativity and risk taking? Here are a few of my ideas.


In class certificates
This is something new I am trying this year. I want students to be able to take home some "good notes" this year. I created several different mini certificates that I plan on keeping in a folder by the stage any time someone does something great on stage I'm going to give them a quick certificate to take home. I also created certificates for audience behavior (something I am always working on) and line memorization. I am hoping these certificates help motivate students. You can check out my certificates on my TPT site if you are interested.

In-Class Certificates

Theatre games
Like most theatre classes my kids love theatre games. I have started to use theatre games as a class motivation. I have the letters of the word game magnetized on my board. The rules are that as long as there is at least one letter still on the board AND we have finished our lesson we will play games for the remainder of class. This works really well for me. Anytime the students start getting to silly or rambunctious I just have to walk near the letters and they quite themselves down. I very rarely have to say a word to them. This has been one of the easiest management techniques I have ever used. It is also nice because it is free and very simple. 

Student choice
When possible I like to allow students to choose different part of the lesson based on their behavior. Whether it is the 3 best audience members get to choose their partner for the next scene. Or the most focused group gets to choose their costumes first. Using behavior to allow students to take ownership of their performance has a two fold reward. You get student behavior under control and you get students to have more buy-in in your lesson. It's a win win!

Think about it sheets
In general I have found that I don't have to many extreme behavior issues in class. Typically it is just talking and being silly. Most of the time, a reminder is all students need to get back on track. If students won't redirect themselves after a warning I send them to the side to fill out a behavior sheet. You can get a FREE copy of my behavior sheets on my TPT site. These sheets serve a double purpose in that they remove students from the situation and they create a record for you of what the student did and why in their own words. These sheets are also nice because it makes the students say what behaviors they are going to change. Excellent if you ever need to have a parent teacher conference about behavior.

After students have filled out a sheet if they keep acting out I contact their parents. It really helps if you develop a good relationship with your parents before you contact the with an issue. Typically all I have to do is mention an email to parents and my kids start to straighten up. They know that I know their parents and I don't mind contacting them if I need to. The most common reason for parent contact for me is line memorization. Why do students  not want to memorize lines by the due date!??

Loss of performance 
This is reserved for extreme cases only! Every student performer and technician signs a contract before they are allowed to work with me after school. If student behavior gets out of control they know they can loose their space in the play. "Everyone is replaceable" students know they must behave to keep their space. Like I said this must be the absolute last resort for behavior but it does work to keep behavior in check. Just know that if you threaten to take a part, you have to really mean it. If you back down this will never work again.

School Responsibility 
I am a big believer in creating a school environment where students know that you care about them. I know my theatre kids. I know when my kids have sports games, what other shows they are working on outside of school. I know my kids. I am their "school mom" . This also means that if any other teacher has a problem with one of my kids, the theatre kids know that I will hear about it. Teachers know that they can come to me with any problems (academics or behavior) and I will address it. I think that as a school we need to be a team. If I can talk to a kid and encourage the to do their math homework. I should take advantage of that and encourage them to do their best in all subjects. A word of caution, when a teacher brings a concern to you, be careful how you address the student. You want to hear the student out instead of just laying into them. I have found that students hear what I am saying more after they have explained themselves. 

Make sure to download my FREE rules poster and Think-about-it sheets at my TPT store! 

 Well those are my ideas for managing student behavior. What do you do in your class that works?  

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