How to become a drama teacher in 4 steps (with definition)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 12 July 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Drama is among the many subjects taught at secondary school and above. It's a popular subject to teach due to the creativity it inspires in students and the potential diversity available within the curriculum. If you're considering becoming a drama teacher, knowing how to do so ensures you're adequately prepared for the role. In this article, we discuss what a drama teacher is, how to become a drama teacher and list some of their most essential key skills:
What is a drama teacher?
A drama teacher is someone who teaches the subjects of drama and theatre to students. This is most commonly at the secondary school level, but they may also teach A-level courses. They educate students on the art of acting and create lessons that engage students and encourage them to explore their dramatic and artistic licenses. They also educate on drama theory and the history of drama. Drama teachers are usually employed full-time and teach across a range of year groups. Other primary duties of a drama teacher include:
developing lesson plans
meeting curriculum aims
arranging educational trips
assessing student performances
preparing student plays
How to become a drama teacher
Here's how to become a drama teacher in four steps:
1. Study relevant subjects
Drama teachers study subjects that are relevant to the subject of drama. This starts from as early as their GCSEs, where prospective drama teachers choose GCSEs that relate to their career goals. In addition to drama, they may also study a similar creative field such as music. When progressing to college or A-level, drama teachers commonly choose subjects such as drama, musical theatre, English literature and art.
Creative subjects are useful for a prospective drama teacher as they provide a solid foundation of practical knowledge and theoretical understanding upon which they build during the later stages of their education. For example, studying drama at A-level helps prospective drama teachers develop their acting skills by starring in productions.
Related: GCSE equivalent qualifications
2. Get an undergraduate degree
Following on from your A-levels or equivalent qualifications, your next step is to get an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject. This is most commonly a Bachelor's Degree in Drama, but any performative or creative degree is suitable. Studying for an undergraduate degree full-time typically takes three years to complete, so ensure that you factor this into your career plans.
During the course of your studies, try to take any relevant opportunities that are offered to you. This includes the opportunity to perform in productions, write scripts or attend professional performances. All of these experiences build knowledge and experience in the dramatic arts. They also develop your passion for the subject, which is critical for a teacher of any subject.
3. Gain qualified teacher status
Once you've graduated with a relevant degree, seek to gain qualified teacher status, also known as QTS. QTS is a legal requirement for all teachers before they can apply for vacancies. There are several routes to gaining qualified teacher status. Each route has its advantages, and the route you take largely comes down to personal preference and location. Ways to gain QTS include:
get a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)
apply through the Teaching Regulation Agency (TGA)
go for salaried school-based learning
apply for a place on the Teach First programme
pass the assessment-only QTS guidelines
4. Apply for drama teacher vacancies
Once you've gained qualified teacher status, you may begin applying for drama teacher vacancies. As with any other teaching application, there's ample preparation to do before attending your interview. For example, you may prepare lesson plans demonstrating your ability to plan cohesive and engaging lessons in line with the national curriculum. Prepare a teaching ethos that you want to champion as a teacher and explain why it's important to you.
This preparation is in addition to the standard CV and cover letter you submit as part of your application. If a school has an interest in hiring you, they may invite you for an interview. This interview is usually conducted by the headteacher and other teachers at the school. The interviewers may also ask you to lead a drama lesson within the school itself so they can assess how well you handle and bond with students.
Skills to develop as a drama teacher
Here are some of the essential skills for successful drama teachers:
Creativity is a huge aspect of planning drama lessons. It ensures that each lesson is engaging and captures the interest of students. There are many ways in which drama teachers use creativity. For example, they come up with creative ways to approach the production of a well-known script so that it's more appealing to a generation of modern teenagers. Creativity is also useful when creating props for either lessons or school productions, such as a student-led Christmas pantomime.
Drama teachers are ultimately the figure of authority within the classroom. This means it's critical that they're able to command the class to do as they're told and ensure that they meet the lesson objective. As drama is a more open type of subject compared to other desk-based classes, being able to lead a classroom is essential in ensuring that students remain focused and on task while still enjoying their studies.
Like any other performer, drama teachers possess a great deal of confidence. This is useful for the teaching profession in general, as confidence is necessary to speak in front of a class of students, but it's imperative for drama teachers, as they're expected to perform for the class frequently. For example, they may perform a soliloquy to demonstrate what one is.
Drama teachers are commonly responsible for teaching more than one set of students across the school year. For example, they may have a Year 7 class, a Year 9 class and a Year 10 class to teach every week. This means each class has its own curriculum and lesson objectives that align with its stage of learning. A Year 7 class is less knowledgeable about drama than a Year 10 class is. This means that staying organised and keeping track of each class is crucial.
Communication is vital for any drama teacher. Both verbal and non-verbal communication is necessary for drama, as a large part of students' learning is practical, such as putting on performances or reading scripts. Drama teachers communicate with students to inform them of their next task or to say what their overall goal is for a particular lesson. When providing a practical acting demonstration, drama teachers use their body language and facial expressions to convey their message.
Some students may struggle with the content of a drama lesson, such as having the confidence to read aloud or work as part of a group. As a drama teacher, patience makes students more receptive to your encouragement and makes them more likely to learn the planned content. For example, if a student is shy and doesn't want to read aloud, taking the time to read it with them makes them feel less self-conscious and more open to doing it independently.
Not all students have a desire to study drama as a subject. It's the duty of the drama teacher to engage with these students and build a rapport with them that encourages them to be less shy and embrace the lesson plan. This is where being charismatic helps greatly. Students trust the teachers they get along with and being charismatic as a drama teacher helps students feel more confident about getting immersed in the lesson.
As with any subject, the most successful drama teachers have a genuine passion for their subject. This is because being passionate about drama encourages teachers to put more time, effort and energy into preparing lesson plans and carrying them out. When students see this passion, they're more likely to get involved and give the lesson their attention, as they see how much joy it brings to their teacher.
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