Kickstarting the teaching career with drama

A young, enthusiastic teacher, Shruti Advani from Sarvankash Vidya Mandir, Ratnagiri shares her ‘drama’tic classroom experiences with us. 

1. Have you had any experience with drama before? How is using drama in the classroom influencing your way of teaching? 

  1. Drama has been a part of my life ever since childhood, it was something I loved dearly. And I would never let go of it. Joining Sarvankash Vidya Mandir (SVM) and getting the opportunity to learn to integrate drama into the classroom, was an added feather in my cap. Drama for Learning helped me take drama into my classrooms, in an effective and efficient manner. This is the start of my teaching career, and beginning with this experience is the best possible thing that has happened to me.

2. How has using drama in your classroom helped to put across the lessons to the learners? How are they responding to it? 

  1. The best way to understand any content is to feel and get into it, and drama allows one to get into the shoes of another and experience life. Additionally, it adds the benefit of using the body, mind and soul in an arena where visual and auditory senses are dominant. Using drama in my classrooms has made learning fun, deep and reflective. 

I give the learners the space to express themselves freely using any of the ways they would love to. For e.g., they could use a concept map, present it using a slide, use poetry, make a handbook, a chart, or anything they wish to, and not surprisingly 80% of the times, the learners choose drama to present themselves. When asked why, they say that it proves to be the best form to express. 

3. Please share an example of an integrated class that worked very well for you and how the learners are responding to it. 

  1. The Grade 7 learners were studying the tripartite struggle in history. The class had been divided into 3 groups, each representing one party – Pratiharas, Palas and the Rashtrakutas – and the groups together researched it and planned a presentation. Two groups of three had used drama, where the learners wrote their own script, used suggestive drapery, and through this, the learning became threefold; the learners researched, created and presented. On the contrary, had they just been sitting and listening to what had actually happened, they would have had it stored in their short term memory which soon might have gotten consigned to oblivion.

4. What according to you is the power of drama? 

  1. Drama helps one live different lives, all at once, and that’s the power it possesses. Taking drama into the classroom, and by being trained by Theatre Professionals Education, a great kick start has been given to my teaching career. Drama is helping my learners understand concepts rather than memorise them. My kids now solve problems rather than memorising the solutions and are able to connect the dots with the help of drama. They coordinate better, think critically, reason, analyze, interpret and synthesize information. The learners now ask more inference based questions. It has given a boost to their artistic side, curiosity, imagination, adaptability, confidence, and discipline. Be it English prose, English poetry, History, Geography or Civics, drama helps them integrate the subjects and the concepts as they now understand and empathize at the same time, and that’s what schools are for, to make them more humane. And it’s not just learners who benefit out of it, being a part of a school that encourages exploring with new methodologies without restrictions is also helping teachers to become more creative and not just follow a mundane and monotonous methods. At SVM, drama isn’t just for one day or one period, it is used in multi-facets in every possible sphere of the school, and that is because the school as well, is open to encouraging the facilitators and the learners. For the learners and the facilitators at SVM, drama holds as much core value as any other subject, meaning, it can be well integrated with our everyday lives.