In many schools, the theater is a safe haven. It is the place where kids who do not always feel like they fit in with the normal school culture go to feel safe and included. Theater teachers understand their role in helping all students feel accepted. One challenge for drama teachers can be reaching students who are quiet or who feel anxiety about performing.
Great theater teachers know that simply letting quiet students remain in the background will not help them overcome their fears or form supportive relationships with their peers. The theater is a perfect place for quiet students to be able to step out of their comfort zones. It is a safe space for quiet students to try on more outgoing personalities. Here are some ways that theater teachers encourage quiet students.
Helping Quiet Students Open Up in Theater
1. Time for Silliness
Improv games are a cornerstone in drama class. They help students learn to act and react in certain situations—some plausible and some completely outrageous. They also ask all students to step outside of their comfort zone because nothing is a given in an improv game. It can be good for quiet students to watch others participate in improv games before asking them to join. However, it should be required that all students participate so that everyone feels comfortable.
2. Ensemble Activities
Some quiet students need time to warm up with the support of their peers. Running ensemble-building games like pantomime in a group may help quiet students see that everyone else is acting or working in the same way they are. This also builds a safe feeling in the community and attachment to peers which can help quiet students become more willing to participate individually later on. Also, for quiet students who do want to act in front of an audience, being part of an ensemble on stage means they do not have to necessarily drive the action but can still participate and build confidence.
3. Address Anxiety and Fear
Great drama teachers understand that not everybody is comfortable performing in front of others. A discussion about performance anxiety and fear is a great way to start this semester or year. When students have an open and frank conversation about how performing makes them feel, they get those feelings out into the open and do not have to hide them which can cause panicky feelings. Also, when teachers talk about times they themselves have had performance anxiety or stage fright it helps students understand that it is not something unusual, even for outgoing people.
If you found solace in the theater room, you may be considering becoming a drama teacher. Get started on that career path by joining the Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Education degree program at Grand Canyon University today.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.