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We are a group of friends/parents that run a not-for-profit cultural association in Spain.
This is our (bilingual!) blog about our theatre workshops for kids...

sábado, 12 de noviembre de 2011

Please be good!

Anyone who has done drama with a group of kids will know things can quickly get out of hand. Let them loose in that large, open space, add a dash of high spirits and... well...

We have groups of about 20 kids in our theatre workshops and they range in age from about 3 to 12 years old. With such a range of ages, there is always the danger the little ones will feel intimidated.... and the older ones will be under-stimulated. Add into the mix the fact that drama is an activity that often attracts the more boisterous kids and, as a teacher, you can quickly find yourself pulled in all directions! You want them to have fun, but you don't want to lose control.

So what do you do?!

All I can talk about is our personal experience (being far from an expert). But through trial and error, we tend to run our workshops like this:
  • Two of us give the workshops - the support of another adult makes a big difference (if nothing else, it's someone to mutter under your breath to!)

  • We have very clear (but simple) rules for when we're not doing an activity: 
  1. no touching anyone else (the kids like expanding on this one: no poking, hitting, tickling, scratching.....)
  2. no running
  3. listening not speaking
  • We also have a (rather intricate!) reward system in place which aims at encouraging good behaviour
Our reward system
At the start of every workshop, each participant is given a 'passport' which has something to do with the play we are going to do (this summer, everyone had a Ghost School card and earned points to become an Apprentice Ghost, an Expert Ghost... etc; last year, when we were doing 'Puff the Magic Dragon', we were all members of the secret Magic Dragon Club etc). Each child gets a stamp on their card at the end of the lesson for participating well. When they fill up their card (usually skillfully calculated to coincide with opening night!), they get a medal

This system seems to motivate the kids really well but (are we control freaks perhaps?!) we also use a magnetic board (and a magnet for each kid) during the session to act as a visual reminder.

They have three possibilities:
  1. Participate well and stay safely on the desert island
  2. Dazzle us all and enjoy a spell up in the Cloud Kingdom
  3. ...or forget the rules momentarily and find yourself in the Sea of Snot (yes, I know. It's gross, but effective!)
The great thing about using magnets is the lack of permanence and the speed factor: consequences can be immediate (a quick swipe of that magnet!) but as a teacher, you hardly need stop what you are doing and you can act immediately to move them up the moment behaviour improves. Sometimes you only need to take a step towards the board.... and it's enough.

Got any tips on keeping control? Let us know what works for you! 

For more on classroom management, check out this article on positive reinforcement and this one on circle time.

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