Lifelong Learning Programme

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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Teachers’ Guidelines

Homepage > Teachers’ Guidelines > Theatre as Experiential Learning Tool

The role of theatre as a site for learning in a community context and how it can provide informal learning opportunities for young people experiencing social difficulty

Theatre as Experiential Learning Tool:
Step by Step Process to Implement Theatrical Laboratories in Classroom

Table of Content

5.1 First Tuning Stage (Investigating the Educational Needs of Each Group)
In the first part of the OFF-book Theatre Lab, trainers need to understand exactly the group’s maturity and knowledge about the aspects to be investigated and developed during the educational process. The chosen instruments to reach the prevention of early school-leaving need to be adapted to the specific needs, the specific speeds of learning that is different from one group to another. The first phase of the OFF-book Theatre Lab consists of the trainers’ listening activities towards the group and its members, in order to understand the degree of maturity and awareness of the issues. The most effective socio-affective education methodology that allows the group to reveal itself and help trainers to understand in depth is the circle-time method.

The circle-time method:
  1. Promotes self-knowledge;
  2. Facilitates interpersonal communication;
  3. Facilitates the free feelings expression and personal experiences expression;
  4. Promotes ideas and opinions sharing.

Circular communication mode, in addition to creating a climate of greater serenity and trust within the group of students, greatly enhances the involvement and participation in all the activities.

The arrangement in circles makes knowledge and communication at the point of acceptance in the classroom. It helps in setting up working groups and the beginning of any collective action.

Equal distribution of physical space and the strict rotation of operations produce almost immediately in the participants a sense of positive complicity within the group.

The circle is perceived as a solid free and comfortable space that develops and strengthens networks and cooperation. Students soon show a preference for this method of work because is more relaxing and more productive.

It is important to underline three recommendations:
  1. Students must be arranged in a circle
  2. Everybody listens to others
  3. Nobody is obliged to speak or to participate in the proposed activities but is invited to do so.

Trainers should never be authoritarian with verbal or non-verbal communication and, even more important, they should never make value judgements on the content of the students’ interventions or actions within the activity.

Any of the OFF-book Laboratories activities the trainers chose as their first, it shall comply with this executive methodology. Through the circle-time method, trainers will have valuable information on:
  1. The level of listening skills within the group
  2. The degree of openness of the group
  3. The degree of acceptance within the group
  4. The ability to concentrate
  5. The ability to self-control
  6. The degree of reciprocity

With this information, the investigation phase of the OFF-book Theatre Lab can be considered concluded. At this point, the business can continue in a targeted and calibrated way.

The development of collaborative and supportive climate among students can be carried out.

The communication skills and the inclusion become cornerstones to enhance learning and to make the class a cohesive group in dealing with learning and combating aggressive and deviant behaviours.

In order to deal with particular students’ problematic behaviour we suggest to use proper exercises described in the section dedicated to Tabs.
Online Resources
  • Quality circle time in the secondary schoolQuality Circle Time is not only for younger children. When life starts to get more challenging and pupils transfer to secondary school and they face extra challenges as having different teachers for different subjects and different rooms and systems Circle Time sessions can give great benefits for them.
  • Circle Time: The perceptions of teachers and pupilsThe paper outlines a research study, undertaken within one local education authority and as part of the researcher's work on the Education Doctorate programme at Sheffield University that aimed to investigate teacher and pupil perceptions of circle time.

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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.