Play is the Thing in Drama Teacher Education

teacher leads a drama class in movement exercises
teacher leads a drama class in movement exercises

Drama teachers enjoy the best of both worlds. These extraordinary teachers are creative individuals who are not only accomplished actors, but know the lighting, costuming, music and production requirements for putting on a play.

If you decide to become a drama teacher, you may have the benefits of a solid, well-paid job and the opportunity to see the spark of creativity in your students’ lives.

You will get to challenge your students and see them bloom socially and academically.

Job Description

In drama class, a theater teacher wears many hats. Here are some of the tasks you will be responsible for if you become a drama teacher or drama director:

  • Helping students read plays with feeling, and understand the theater genre
  • Producing short plays in the classroom and putting on plays for the school and parents
  • Casting, blocking and directing longer plays and musicals for performance
  • Ordering scripts and coordinating stage production, including sets, props and costumes
  • Managing productions, including tech, lighting, sound and backstage management
  • Leading after-school student rehearsals

Life is a Stage for Drama Teachers

If you become a drama teacher in junior, middle or high school, you might begin your day teaching a dramatic literature class, spend lunchtime auditioning students, and end the school day with a tech and lighting class before after-school play rehearsal begins.

Elementary schools have much smaller versions of drama departments, usually offering only extracurricular acting opportunities or special one-time programs to their students. However, some elementary drama teachers can find full-time work traveling to different schools within a district.

Most of a drama teacher’s work is done in the classroom or on stage and involves many different aspects of performing arts, from behind-the-scenes to on-stage work. Rehearsals may be held during school hours, but after-school rehearsals are more common, and drama teachers spend many evening hours at rehearsals. Teachers are compensated for all classes, including those completed after school.

Drama Teacher Benefits

Drama programs can be something like football programs, with drama directors at well-known or celebrated high schools demanding far more lucrative paychecks than some of their counterparts. Because of the fact that good productions can bring in money for the school and awards, grants and certificates can boost a school’s reputation and productivity, there is monetary incentive for drama teachers to perform well.

Degrees and Certification

Like other teachers, drama teachers must have at least bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate to be considered for a job teaching drama. Requirements vary by state, so contact the Department of Education in your state for applicable information.

Since the No Child Left Behind Act mandated teachers to prove they are “highly qualified” to teach their subjects, many teachers have opted to major in theater or production, and complete teacher certification separately in order to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of their subject matter.

Holding a bachelor’s or master’s degree with a performing arts major will be helpful for you as a high school drama director because of the many aspects of production that you will be responsible for.

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