Our first RADA Enterprises Classroom Presence session had everyone from recent graduates in primary education to seasoned secondary school professionals, from university lecturers to nursery school teachers. It was a real test of our flexibility of delivery style!
We began with some good old fashioned fun and games tapping into a few of the key performance skills and ideas which would frame the day. As ever, the opening games generated a great buzz in the room, and before long even the most nervous participants were growing in confidence in front of the class.
The games always have a purpose beyond simply being fun, and are an excellent way to kick off the morning’s session on using improvisation in the classroom. Improvisation is key skill for any teacher; it opens your lessons to new ideas and possibilities, connects everyone to their imaginations and injects a little excitement into the learning environment.
After break, we tackled the topic of staying in control and grounded while chaos breaks loose about you. Any teacher will acknowledge the essential nature of this skill! Putting into practise some tried and tested physical techniques from actor and voice training is enough to help you stay calm and authoritative. Being grounded and assured also impacts the voice; and the voice is one of the fundamental tools of any teacher. If you can’t be heard, or carry no vocal dynamism, you’re going to have to work very hard
The afternoon then brings the chance for everyone to get up on their feet and teach something, putting the skills they have learnt into practise in a safe, supportive environment. The benefits of learning fundamental performance techniques were clear to us all; so many of the group had grown in stature, assuredness and, simply, their capacity to enjoy being in front of a crowd.
As a teacher, whether you admit it or not, you are a performer so it makes a lot of sense to develop your classroom presence. In the long run, it takes some of the pressure out of your teaching life and makes you a truly memorable teacher to boot!