Head of Drama, Kay Sanders discusses how her department have adapted to the online stage
Movement, speech and action; central elements to the learning of Drama, that in some ways are well suited to the use of audio visual media and distance learning tools. During school closure, drama students at Shrewsbury International School, Riverside have been able to create videos, take photography and communicate with each other on platforms in real-time. As Head of Drama, Ms Kay Sanders has found out, her students have really thrived in this environment and are using the time to create some fantastic work.
How have you been preparing your students during the school’s closure?
We are sending detailed tasks to each class and giving feedback individually if they ask for further assistance. Every single day the Drama department is having google-hangouts and zoom lessons with all students to keep them engaged in the subject and prepared. Despite the distance between us, it makes me happy to see them so involved in these classes. Drama has a special connection to its students and so reaching out gives them a link to a world outside their house. So, from a pastoral point of view, this is really important.
How is the department working as a team?
We make sure we check in at least once a day and are sharing the load regarding planning of new remote learning schemes of work. One important aspect has been the focus on providing enrichment activities for our Year 11 to prepare them for A levels. Ordinarily, we would see each other every day. We would chat about classes, work and day-to-day challenges, so we are just transferring that to a digital world.
What is the response from students and parents been like?
I've been encouraged by the positive response from students and parents alike. Daily, we receive lots of thanks and praise from the parents, which is really lovely but also reinforces that we are on the right track. I think everyone in our community understands that the situation surrounding COVID-19 is unprecedented. As long as we do our very best, then we will make it through together. As it happens I only just I received an email from a parent that read:
“We thank you for your amazing organisation and support for all students during this exceptional time.”
What are you finding most challenging?
Although we have found that our students are adapting to the circumstances well, not working practically with our students certainly can be difficult. The nature of our subject is generally quite interactive. Every lesson students would have been working with peers and staff to build their confidence, performance skills and become creative theatre-makers. It is a challenge, but we are continually thinking of ways to mirror this in an online capacity.
Describe some of the activities you are doing and why?
All our students are sending in videos of themselves presenting their work that shows off their knowledge of other theatrical styles and cultures. Some classes are reading play-scripts and discussing characters and plot. Others are scripting together in small groups on shared Google docs. Recently we have had some students design some really cool sets with lighting, sound and accompanying costumes. Further to this, we are utilising the freely-available live screenings of world-renowned plays as a live theatre evaluation is part of both the GCSE and A Level written exams in Drama. Our older students really get a kick out of this.
Here's a couple of examples of longer term projects undertaken by our Year 7 students: