More than just a drama class
When a drama class is designed for middle schoolers, learning outcomes where they understand the value of working as a team, sharing of ideas, developing a solution oriented approach and also understanding their own personality are embedded in the drama class design.
What is important to remember is that a Drama class does not merely focus on teaching the syllabus but also gears towards inculcating life skills essential for becoming a responsible individual. A simple habit of cleaning the classroom at the end of a class becomes an important learning outcome as it inculcates a respect and value in them towards their work space.
Preeti recollects a recent incident about a 7th grader who showed least interest in the drama activities. He was given the responsibility of collecting all the crayons from his peers at the end of our class. He only collected some of the crayons and then left the room. He was called back and asked why he did not complete the entrusted task. He replied, “I thought someone else will do it.” He (as per habit) apologized and was waiting to get an earful. Instead of yelling at him, I tried to explain him the importance of following instructions given by a facilitator, and how by completing these small tasks properly he will become a more responsible learner. Next class, when he was asked to collect worksheets, he completed the task and henceforth, he was mindful of his in-class behaviour. He was made that week’s star student and now he is also more attentive during our drama classes.
Another student who was only interested in being on-stage and performing for the audience, struggled to focus in the classroom activities. He came across as a disruptive student to his peers and teachers. During one of our drama classes, he shared that he “does not intend to create trouble but is unable to focus.” To help him with focusing on tasks, he was asked to do an activity. He was to look in a mirror and see everything in it except himself and the moment he heard a clap, he has to look into his own eyes. After the activity, he reflected that other things in the surrounding faded for him when he focused on his own eyes. I said the same rule applies to drama, just focus on the ongoing activity in the class and you won’t be distracted anymore. This realisation allowed him to focus on his class activities and he is now actively involved in school assemblies and other classes.
Middle school students at their age are exposed to all new kinds of information at school while grappling onto to the idea of personal identity. At such times, they are looking for a safe space to express themselves and share their story. A Drama class, equipped with learner focused facilitation, becomes that space which gives their thoughts a voice, a movement and an expression.