Drama for all
Q&A with Drama facilitator Aanchal Jain about her experience working with 58 Balwadi (pre-school) teachers across two days at the Door Step School, Mumbai in using drama tools to enhance oral communication and reading skills in the students.
Q. What did you keep in mind while planning the two workshop sessions?
A. I was given a brief by Door Step as to what they wanted the teachers to internalise in the course of the workshop – Tools to develop Oral Communication and Reading skills among the students.
While keeping that in mind, I wanted the teachers to explore pedagogy that involves games and movement. Given that their medium of instruction was not English and that they primarily worked with children in their early stages of learning, I had to constantly scaffold the activities and discuss how they can be adapted to their lesson plans.
Furthermore, I wanted it to be a participatory methodology wherein the teachers themselves played the games to understand facilitation better.
Q. What were the different responses of the teachers considering that the group of participants and the content was different on both days?
A. The participants on both days were extremely warm and receptive. Their energy levels helped optimise the performance in each activity. The group on the second day was far more vocal on their experiences in the classroom and the adaptability of the tools they had acquired in the workshop. Since the second day was based on Reading Skills, it was possible to use material, primarily books, that the teachers were using in their class. Due to this, the clarity to adapt these tools was far more.
Q. What are your observations of the impact of this workshop on the participating teachers?
A. I believe that the participants had a lot of takeaways from the workshop. In the second half of the workshop, the participants were to use the games and activities to design a one hour lesson plan. Importance of a structured facilitation and ways to be a sensitive facilitator were discussed before this. The participants not only outlined the objective of their lesson plan but also structured it in a cohesive manner. The teachers were from the same social location as the students, and, thus, possessed a deep understanding of contact for the students. As a result, they adapted the activities to the children they were working with.
However, given the time, we were able to complete about 12 activities. There is immense scope to explore more activities and drama based teaching tools. More importantly, it is imperative that the participating teachers’ experience in their classroom be discussed and deconstructed. Such feedback can be really used to design more tools and reorient our goals.
An M.A (Women’s Studies), Tata Institute of Social Sciences, a B.A (Economics) and an Associate of Trinity College London, Aanchal has been working independently and in various private and government schools with children and adults to enable self expression and communication, using tools of drama, improvisation and games.
A regular at our Drama-in-Education jams, this was her first of the many more community theatre workshops to come with Theatre Professionals Education.