Why we must support Drama teachers right now

Alison Chaplin

Alison Chaplin is a drama teacher, award-winning playwright and Manager of Arts On The Move, a one-stop-shop of drama and theatre resources for schools, youth theatres, and young actors. She has over 30 years’ experience as a drama teacher, advisor and youth theatre director and has written over 20 plays for young actors to perform, many of which have won awards in Drama Festivals across the UK. In February she was co-winner of the prestigious Lancaster Playwriting Prize. 

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These are strange and sad times, and tough times for teachers. As soon as lockdown began I knew that my subject – drama – would be particularly vulnerable.

How to deliver an interactive, social, subject when all social interaction ceases? Drama and the Performing Arts often feel like a poor relation anyway, having to fight for every penny and every bit of support despite the arts generating nearly £90 billion in revenue for the UK each year. So I didn’t want drama students and their teachers to struggle. I set about creating home study and distance learning packs for drama lessons at KS2 and KS3. 

As I suspected, drama is a very difficult subject to transform into a worksheet! But I did it. I gathered activities from a huge back catalogue of ideas and lesson plans and adapted them for home use. Then I devised new worksheets that I knew students could tackle independently. The difficult part was trying to make the activities feel fun and creative and not like a written test. The end result was two Drama and Theatre Home Work Activities packs, a KS3 Drama Vocabulary worksheet pack, a Role On The Wall pack, a Storyboards pack, a Facebook Profile worksheet pack – for exploring character! – and, finally, a Zoom Performance pack to support teachers and students in giving theatre performances via the Zoom platform. Great materials for distance learning or using in the socially distant classroom. 

Most of the activities require nothing more than paper and pens – all necessary templates are also provided – but I wanted to involve some practical creative activities too. One of the tasks involves students creating mini movies of script extracts (also provided) and these have been great fun to watch. Some of them have even made it onto the Arts On The Move YouTube channel (under 18s only) and show a fabulous amount of creativity and humour: 

 

Although all of the packs are devised for KS2 and KS3 they’re suitable for a range of student abilities, and not just for schools in the UK either. I’ve tried to include as many non-technical activities as possible too – because not every student has access to the internet – but they may have to resort to good old-fashioned books for some of the research! I know, from social media and email feedback, that I’ve done a good thing in creating these materials and I’m glad that I’ve been able to bridge the gap and support those on the creative side of teaching and learning. Because these have been created to help teachers, nearly all of the packs are free and those that aren’t cost only £1 to download. I love my subject for its elements of sharing and inclusivity and believe that the shared experiences of drama, theatre, music and the rest of the arts are what gives society its heart. Arts On The Move will do what it can to support drama teachers until the lights go up again. 

Teachers can access the distance learning drama and theatre teaching resources by going to:

https://www.artsonthemove.co.uk/e_shop/resources.php?subject%5Bdistancelearning%5D=distance+learning&APPLY=filter 

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