I am currently in a class called CT575, General Teaching Methods. It is a standard education class where we learn the basics of lesson plan creation and classroom management. The last few classes, however, haven’t really looked like education classes though. They have looked something a lot closer to a mediocre acting class. While we have been getting up and running simulation lessons with our classmates since the beginning of class, fairly recently we have been practicing classroom management techniques and one-on-one conversations with each other. Let me tell you, it feels ridiculous.
One of the more ridiculous things we’ve had to practice on each other is a management move we in the School of Education affectionately like to call the “regal turn.” The theory behind the turn is this: after a student has been misbehaving a couple times during class and you’ve already tried to prevent it through subtler or easier methods (which haven’t stuck), you pause the class and slowly turn to face that student in a calm, stoic, and non-threatening way. If this initial part doesn’t work, there are further actions you can take but this one is really big and tends to get students to stop whatever they’re doing without actually feeling threatened or physically uncomfortable.
Before we could practice the turn itself, we had to practice our body language–specifically our stoic faces (which were inspired by the patron saint of stoicism, Queen Victoria herself). Everyone in that class, knowing that I was an actor with at least a small amount of formal training, assumed that I would do a really good job. This was not the case. I was the epitome of awful. I laughed the entire time. The stakes were just too low so it seemed ridiculous. I played it off with a line something along the lines of “Whatever, I’m just more method than that.”
Of course, that’s when it hit me that this exercise was all acting. I had to raise the stakes for myself because nobody else would. So when I got up to do the full regal turn on a couple of college students and their week attempts to mimic misbehavior, I did a really solid turn. I had to think about it as an acting exercise, not a classroom management one.
The thing is, I feel like I always talk about how education and theater are connected, but I rarely get the opportunity to actively connect those two parts of my life. Or else, as in the case with my lame stoic face, I would forget all of my theatrical training, which completely negates anything I say about the crossover between theater and education. If I truly believe there is a bond between these two entities, I have to actively practice what I preach. I need to demand of myself to pursue theater in my education, as well as education in my theater. It is something I owe not only to myself, but also to my future students, who deserve a teacher who strives to teach in a manner beyond the monotonous and mundane.