SUPPORTING EDUCATIONAL THEATRE PROGRAMS
Considerations for Administrators
Utah Advisory Council of Theatre Teachers (UACTT) seeks to advance theatre as a vital component of a student’s educational experience. The main objective of UACTT is to organize a community of theatre educators dedicated to rigorous instruction and performance training for theatre students across the state of Utah.
The following pages are intended to support administrators in establishing a quality educational theatre program at their school.
VALUE OF AN EDUCATIONAL THEATRE PROGRAM
The study of humanity is the intent of theatre as an art form. Theatre education offers every student opportunities for creativity, confidence, and collaboration.
National, state, and district theatre standards have been selected to provide every student equal access to a thorough theatre education. By creating, performing, responding and connecting to theatre arts, students connect to the world around them and develop important skills and dispositions.
- Personal expression
- Ability to articulate ideas
- Skills in contextual writing through script and character analysis
- Respect and tolerance for ideas outside their own
- Understanding and empathy for the human condition
INDICATORS OF A STRONG EDUCATIONAL THEATRE PROGRAM
Content structure in accordance with national, state, and district fine arts standards
Collaboration involving artists, actors, designers, stage managers, educators
Student creativity and follow-through responsibility
Strong support and positive feedback from student body, faculty, administration, community, and district.
Inclusion of individuals of all backgrounds, cultures, abilities and orientations
Project-based experiential learning
Leadership by a highly qualified theatre educator
Efficient use of classroom and rehearsal time
HIRING A QUALITY THEATRE EDUCATOR
Here is a detailed list of suggestions for hiring a quality theatre educator.
- Include current theatre educators in the hiring process.
- Require a portfolio of the applicants’ work and experience, both in theatre and with students.
- Check for understanding of the fine arts standards, classroom management, rehearsal processes, lesson planning, and arts education philosophy.
- Check references – one of the most critical needs when hiring a qualified theatre teacher.
The theatre educator you choose for your program must be highly qualified with a bachelor’s
or master’s degree in theatre or theatre education; experience as a professional actor or stage technician is not enough. The art of teaching theatre must include students’ intellectual, emotional, physical, and cognitive development, and performance skills don’t equate to teaching capability. An applicant relying on experience must have professional development as an educator. Recognizing the personal influence a theatre instructor may have, also look for qualities you would like to see emulated by your students in the program.
In areas where a highly qualified theatre educator is not available, administrators must provide tools, materials and compensation enabling the educator to become endorsed in teaching theatre. The UACTT organization and the USOE can provide resources for educators seeking endorsements.
ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT OF THEATRE EDUCATORS
A vital component of a successful theatre program is the support provided by the administrative team. Hiring a quality educator is simply the first step. Once your theatre educator is in place, consider the following:
- Provide a mentor for them in the building.
- Seek out the District Arts Coordinator and notify them of a new hire.
- Discuss expectations regarding budgets, performances, auditorium expectations.
- Attend their classroom, especially before and after a performance. Wishing the teacher and their students “Break a leg” is actually a good thing!
- Maintain classroom size. It can be dangerous when too many students are put into a theatre class. Discuss what is manageable with your theatre teacher.
- Attend performances! This is where you can see the effects of your theatre educators work. Also, when the community sees you at a performance they know it is important.
ASSESSING A THEATRE EDUCATOR OR PROGRAM
What weight should be put on recognition, accolades, and trophies?
While being recognized for excellence in theatre arts is important, the success of a theatre educator or the validity of an educational theatre program should not hinge on whether a trophy is awarded. There are many opportunities throughout the state for theatre programs to be recognized for out- standing achievement. Those accolades should be acknowledged and celebrated!
Realize, however, that wonderful opportunities for learning are happening in your theatre department even without those awards. The best way to assess the effectiveness of a theatre program and a theatre educator’s effectiveness is to spend time in theatre classes and at rehearsals with the teacher and students.
UNDERSTANDING STATE THEATRE STANDARDS
Being familiar with the State Theatre Standards will aid you in assessing, developing, supporting, and maintaining a high functioning theatre program at your school. Evaluating student work in each of these areas will aid you in assuring the theatre educator is focused on standards in the classroom. The Fine Arts Standards are comprised of 4 strands:
Students will conceptualize, generate, develop and organize artistic ideas and work. They will complete and refine drama works.
Students will analyze, interpret, and select artistic work for performance. They will develop techniques and concepts to refine artistic work and ex press meaning through the presentation of drama works.
Students will perceive and analyze artistic work and process. They will interpret intent & meaning & apply criteria to evaluate artistic work and process.
Students will synthesize and relate knowledge from personal and collaborative experiences to make and receive art. They will relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.
SUPPORTING THEATRE EDUCATORS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Utah Theatre Association (UTA)
The Utah Theatre Association holds an annual conference providing secondary education students and teachers opportunities to expand their knowledge of theatre, connect with theatre peers and professionals, and celebrate creation of educational theatre.
Utah Advisory Council of Theatre Teachers (UACTT)
Utah Advisory Council of Theatre Teachers strengthens educators across the state of Utah through professional networking and development, training, and communication. UACTT provides regular professional development opportunities and a yearly conference focusing on workshops, professional training, and collaboration. UACTT Outstanding Theatre Educators of the Year awards are presented to novice, master, and sterling theatre educators, nominated by their peers.
The Educational Theatre Association
The Educational Theatre Association’s Professional Development Intensives (PDIs) programs consist of one or two day interactive, hands-on opportunities for theatre educators to develop their arsenal of professional skills on a specific topic. Topics range from directing a musical to curriculum development to stage lighting.
EdTA’s PDI seminars also allows attendees to advance a graduate degree or earn credit required for continuing education.
The PDI program is typically run in conjunction with other Educational Theatre Association events, such as the International Thespian Festival or the EdTA National Conference. Attendees can minimize their time out of the classroom, maximize their budget for professional development, and allow for wider networking opportunities.
American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE)
Membership in AATE brings you face to face with new people, new plays, new techniques, and new contacts in the world of theatre and education. Join a national and international network of top professionals, scholars, and students who share a passion for stimulating young people and communities through the theatre arts.
AATE Annual National Conference
The field’s most talked about conference, where theatre-specific artists and educators exchange expertise in an atmosphere of fun, warmth, and professionalism unmatched anywhere. Members are offered a discounted registration rate.
AATE brings you networking on a grand scale – through thrilling special interest projects both online and in person, as well as special networking access to the Arts Education Partnership (AEP), Americans for the Arts (AFTA), and other important organizations such as ATHE, TYA/USA, EDTA, CTFA and more. Your AATE member email updates flag just what you need, when you need it, and you’re always in touch with key people to make things happen.
AATE Annual Symposium
AATE teams up and co-presents a symposium annually with different theatre organizations, where theatre artists and educators can discuss a particular subject. Symposiums provide hands-on workshops, collaborative opportunities, panel discussions, performances, and so much more. Leave with practical tools and gain skills that can benefit your workplace and community. Members are offered a discounted registration rate.
AATE Resources and Programs
AATE brings you access to unique funding opportunities, lesson plans, production photos, online forums, searchable member lists, online career postings, and innovative, groundbreaking programs, such as Theatre In Our Schools (TIOS), Playwrights In Our Schools, the prestigious AATE Leadership Institute, arts and research awards and scholarships, and much more.
AATE Online Workshops
AATE’s online programming aims to provide professional development opportunities to theatre educators through interactive sessions with experts in the field. Workshops are accessible via the internet and can be attended synchronously or asynchronously. CEU’s are offered for all workshops, these can be used for re-certification or credit, certificates of attendance are provided following the completion of the workshop to certify these hours.
SKILLS ACQUIRED BY PARTICIPATION IN A QUALITY EDUCATIONAL THEATRE PROGRAM:
- Collaboration and team work
- Public speaking
- Problem solving
- Awareness of humanity in yourself and others
- Understanding of the world and your position in it
A 21ST CENTURY THEATRE ENVIRONMENT
A well-equipped theatre classroom/theatre will contribute more to educating the student than most realize. Access to adequate classroom and rehearsal space, manageable classroom sizes, correct and up to date technical equipment, scripts, costumes, props, materials for set construction, and technology for research and analysis will supplement classroom learning, and enable the teacher to meet standards in creating, performing, responding and connecting to theatre.
Theatre students need a designated performance space and time. Performances are summative assessments that show what knowledge and skills the student has acquired in the theatre classroom. The space provided must be clean and safe for student performers and audience members to enjoy the performance.
Educators can and should provide data as evidence of student learning. Theatre educators are required and equipped to teach national, state, and district level standards. Clear and concise rubrics with clear definitions and measurable data should be compiled. Growth can be chartered and eventually proven in well-prepared products, which might range from performances to aspects such as analysis, script writing, and design.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR SECONDARY STUDENT RECOGNITION IN THEATRE
Utah High School Shakespeare Competition, scholarships available
Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards, scholarships available
Region and State Drama Competitions
Speech/Drama Sterling Scholar, scholarships available
Utah Theatre Association Conference Outstanding Student from each school
International Thespian Society, scholarships available
INTERNATIONAL THESPIAN SOCIETY (ITS)
Recognition from an international honor society is a strong addition to student and program honors in attracting respect from the school, community, and colleges.
As members of ITS, your students will be honored on a national level and have access to re- sources beyond those of their school.
ITS state and national events, including the International Thespian Festival, with workshops and arrangements for college and scholarship auditions, along with opportunities to showcase and receive assessment on tech and performance skills.
A membership card, certificate and induction pin.
Print and digital subscriptions to Dramatics magazine, the only publication edited exclusively for theatre students and teachers.
Student leadership opportunities at the troupe, state and national levels, providing forums to learn and put their leadership skills to work.
ITS honor society membership to enhance college and employment applications.