Here is part two of Ania Musielak’s takeover of my blog. After last weeks interview, she has now written a post for us all about her great passion in teaching, using drama in the classroom. I have asked her to write here because this is an aspect of teaching that doesn’t come naturally to me at all. It seems to me that the majority of teachers I’ve worked with have an exhibitionist streak within them, and teaching gives them a great chance to be the centre of attention. The good teachers, of course, can control this feeling and harness it to their advantage. The bad ones allow their ego to take precedence over the needs of the students.
But what about the other teachers, like myself, who are more introspective and could subsequently be missing out on some useful classroom techniques? I asked Ania to give us some advice, and she’s done a great job in helping us to understand how we can harness the acting skills she believes we all have within us.
By putting on a mask of someone else students not only get an insight into another person’s behaviour, but they also become less intimidated to act and speak, as for that brief moment they are someone else. A hard-working Kate become Charming Alexis and Jack the stockbroker can become Archie The Greatest Footballer of All Time!
Once you put on a mask like that there’s no coming back – you just have to make a fool of yourself – here it’s my husband’s turn!
That is why when I teach adults I ask them to come up with names or nicknames that they want to use only on English lessons. And I don’t just mean an English equivalent of their real name – but a whole new identity. Even today some of my students greet me by my nickname and talk about our groups using English nicks. That is a very simple idea which can help loosen students up and prepare them for the activities to come.
Another technique for those who are rather reluctant when it comes to using drama might be the introduction of non verbal drama games (they are a wonderful way to put students at ease because with those games the immediate pressure to speak is lifted). There is a popular game that I use quite frequently, it’s called Would You Prefer? It basically means giving students two options to choose from e.g.
There is another drama idea that is easy to adopt – a technique called freeze frame (or still image). A freeze frame is used to show a specific event, reaction or action of the story. Students who are reluctant to improvise a talking scene can show a story by a series of still images. The images can be made alive – the audience (students who are not involved in the freeze frame) can choose a person from the still image and ask him or her some question to establish what the story is about. It is a good idea to provide the group presenting the freeze frame with a photo and give them time to brainstorm some ideas and decide on their roles before presenting it. In the past, I had students so engaged that they were willing to perform stunts (they really got into the roles of cancan girls, and those were guys, mind you!).
My students might have not been THAT flexible and fit, but they sure tried hard!
A big thank you to Ania for her blog takeover. You can read my interview with her here, and you can find her on Twitter at @Aniamusielak.