I am trying to finish this year, my first year, with dignity and grace – although I fear I may have lost that in a lesson somewhere after taking on yet another character as a “teacher-in-role”.
It all started after I led a best practice briefing sharing the ways that staff can incorporate performing arts into their own lessons (focusing on methods of hot-seating, teacher-in-role, script work and use of song) and the benefits of this. It seems my acting skills are now in high demand across the school as staff experiment with these ideas.
As a performing arts specialist school it seems a fantastic method of maintaining this status within each faculty and promoting the arts across the curriculum, while also providing teachers with a different and engaging method to break-up the 100-minute lessons that we will be facing next year as we reorganise the structure of our school day.
How thrilled I am that they are genuinely listening and trying to include these methods – listening to the words of an NQT (an NQT who was nervous to deliver such a briefing to every staff member in the school) and devising original ways to make this relevant to their subjects. Another reminder of why I’m at an outstanding school.
And as grateful as I am that they are listening and responding – I hadn’t anticipated how many of my frees I would be losing to contribute towards this. Some lessons have worked better than others, admittedly, but it’s been fantastic seeing students singing songs to remember maths formulae, hot-seating to further understand the characters within An Inspector Calls, script work for the nurture group to get to grips with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and staff asking for a teacher-in-role to engage with during their lessons.
This has seen some amazing lessons, but especially in creating links with history. I’m not sure whether the history NQT who asked for my services was quite prepared for my entrance in to her lesson as a Matchstick Girl, a woman fighting for rights in the workplace encouraging everyone to stand up and take strike action against the terrible conditions they faced.
Now, I’m no history teacher – in fact, back at school I dropped it as soon as I was able. But based on the “brief” of information, facts and statistics I was sent (a little like a real acting job!) I was able to wing this character to the best of my ability and, donning a pair of specs and a clipboard, stormed in to the room spouting facts and getting the class chanting along with me and debating the reasons why we should or shouldn’t take action. They were able to ask me questions as a character from the past – I just wish I had been taught history in such an engaging way. Perhaps then I may not have left it behind.
Now drama and history have firm links in the school. Having seen the wonders this approach has had on student engagement and retention after key stage 3, four of us have compiled a First World War scheme of work to be taught across both of our lessons this term which, so far, has been one of the most entertaining schemes I’ve taught. It shows the power of what can happen when we leave our own corridors and join someone else’s comfort zone – taking a chance, learning from others, experimenting to see what works. Possibly one of the greatest skills I’ve now learnt as an NQT.
Our NQT diarist this year is a teacher of drama and dance at a school in Essex.