This is my class.
This is my teacher .
This is a performance.
This year, I am teaching IB Theatre for the first time, and it is exciting as well as somewhat daunting. A big part of the course requires exposing students to theatre traditions from around the world. I don’t necessarily have to teach every tradition myself; in fact, students are supposed to research them independently and present to the class, and I need to only model one tradition for them as an example. However, there is a big difference between reading about theater and actually doing it.
This summer, I went to an IB workshop and took a master class in Kathakali, a traditional Indian dance and storytelling technique. The instructor first showed us a piece she had worked on: she explained what she was doing and the connections between the various movements and the story, then she performed it, then she discussed other aspects of what we saw, then she performed it again and discussed it again. In the next session, we learned some of the standard dance moves and hand gestures and facial expressions, and then we had to perform them as well. It just scratched the surface of this practice as a whole but was a solid introduction to the technique that I could not have gotten from simply watching a performance or reading about it. So how do I transfer that type of experience to my classroom? It is not feasible to bring in master teachers for all of the traditions students can choose, nor are many available or affordable. Here’s where technology bridges a crucial gap — I hope.
ISTA (the group which sponsored the IB training) has a partnership with Digital Theatre and Digital Theatre + (for schools) where they post recordings of master classes and performances, interviews with theatre practitioners, and more. It’s a great resource, but when I priced it out, it came to about $2000.00 for a year’s subscription. Now, my theatre program has a healthy budget, but that’s a lot of money to spend on a resource that I am not sure how I would use yet and not sure I would have the time to utilize to its fullest potential. (And my theatre kids like us to buy them ice cream! I do need to think about what the best use of my budget will be.)
Another option would be to take the time to create an online collection of videos, readings, links, etc. A few other theatre teachers have already done this for their classes, including the leader of the online IB workshop I took this spring — her webpage is a great starting point for me. Although creating my own content is also time consuming, I am leaning in this direction. I am thinking that if I put in the time this summer, then I will always have the materials — the subscription doesn’t run out. Then, after this first year, if it’s not adequate, I can rethink my options.
In short, I think technology, especially online media, will be an invaluable resource for me, and I cannot imagine teaching the IB Theatre course without it. However, I wish there were more free options equivalent to the excellent (and expensive) ones out there. I want the best content for my students, but I am just not yet ready to give away the ice cream.