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

6.3 Different Roles
OFF-Book Theatre Labs are leaded by professional theatre educators, with the teacher's assistance. It is important to understand differences, peculiarities and possible synergies between these professionals. Theatre educators can be very effective on OFF-Book Theatre Lab. On one hand, they are theatre workers, with technical skills they can use with students, by adapting exercises or performance scenes to the aim of the lab. On the other hand, they are strangers, they come from outside of the school, becoming soon reference adults for students. They deal equally with students, without knowing them in the school environment. They must have a completely different approach compared to teachers or parents.

However, in OFF-Book project the key role is represented by teachers. The teachers are the link between teenagers and school, between students and families, between theatre educators and school.

Teachers can take part to an OFF-Book Theatre Lab in four different ways:
  • as project managers,
  • as leader's assistant,
  • as connection and development of the educator's work,
  • as members of the group of participants.

The project management means everything that can help the lab to take place and to be successfully completed. (bureaucracy, contacts with school, families, organization of meetings, timetables, space ...etc...). All this stuff is very important to ensure a relaxed working environment.

Trained teachers can also take part of the laboratory, as leaders' assistants, helping them to reach their targets. To do this, teachers need to abandon their usual role, to be perceived by the students as peers, who play with them, who show their humanness, by taking off the dress of judges. They can also try to export some exercises or some debates out of the lab meeting, for example during their lessons, obviously, according to their own skills and to the leader's method.

Teachers in this condition can also take part in the lab as participants, working together with the students. In some occasions it can be interesting, useful and prolific also for the relationships during the school time. However, teachers are not teenagers, and in some kind of exercises it is better for them not to work.

It is the leader’s task to decide which role is the best for the involved teachers. The leader's aim has to be to ensure a fruitful environment for the work and a peaceful atmosphere.

However, every professional has to face different challenges in relation with the role she/he adopts in front of the students. Skills and practices are never enough. The unique way is learning to listen to what is needed and to be always aware of the dangerous power they have, working with the frailty of young people.

In conclusion, theatre educators and teachers should find their proper way to work together successfully, also helped by the OFF-Book training.
Online Resources
  • The Role of The teachers’ Experiential Learning and Reflection on Enhancing their Autonomous Personal and Professional Development Teachers today are not only teaching, but they have to fulfill various educational roles. This situation demands teachers to learn continuously. They should develop themselves to improve students’ achievement. To grow continuously, teachers should not just wait for formal, instructed or top-down training or learning. They should be autonomous and self directed. They should be aware and analyze what they need and how they should obtain knowledge or skill that they need. Autonomous teachers learn by reflecting their daily teaching and learning experiences. They use their experience as an opportunity to learn. There are three main sources of teachers’ learning: their teaching experiences, sharing ideas in professional communities, and by researching. Keywords: professional development, learning from experiences, professional communities, researching, reflection.
  • Extending experiential learning in teacher professional developmentThe paper introduces the use of experiential learning during the early stages of teacher professional development. Teachers observe student outcomes from the very beginning of the process and experience new pedagogical approaches as learners themselves before adapting and implementing them in their own classrooms. This research explores the implementation of this approach with teachers in Irish second level schools who are being asked to make significant pedagogic changes as part of a major curriculum reform. Teachers’ self-reflections, observations and interviews demonstrate how the process and outcomes influenced their beliefs, resulting in meaningful changes in classroom practice.

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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.