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  • 1.  Managing 31 G1-6 Students

    Posted 02-19-2024 21:15

    Hello everyone,

    Looking for some advice. I have run an after school drama club at my school for the past 3 years. We have broken the 30 student barrier and have a total of 31 this semester. They range from grade 1-6. I am curious if you all have any suggestions on how to manage 31 elementary students. I am the only teacher for the program. It is for 3 hours after school, once a week. I usually keep them engaged and active with inclusive theatre games and activities before we get our materials to begin rehearsing a show. Once we begin rehearsing, things get a bit more difficult as I will work with different groups at different times, typical rehearsal stuff. So any suggestion on how to manage that number of students by myself pre-rehearsal and during rehearsal? My colleague suggested I get an assistant. Do you think that is necessary?  Thanks in advance.

    Sean Graham
    Performing Arts & Homeroom Teacher
    Troupe Director, Troupe 11103
    Proud Producer of Theater in Taiwan
    Intl. Bilingual Sch. at Central Taiwan Sci. Park

  • 2.  RE: Managing 31 G1-6 Students

    Posted 02-20-2024 09:15
    I am teaching the same age ranges. An assistant (adult who knows theatre is the best and one who likes kids but willl have high expectations of them), We draw buddies (one older for one young, or 1 older to 2 youngers)=preferably not brother and sisters. I double the roles so every kid is busy on stage. We do a short physical warmup, short vocal warmp then review stage directions, etc. then start work. 
    Gai Laing Jones 
    Past President of Educational Theatre Association (EdTA), National Board Member of Educational Theatre Foundation (ETF), Past CETA Executive Board, Vice President Membership, DTASC Advocacy Director, DTA Curriculum Writer, Ojai Art Center Theatre Director Youth Theatre, OACT Executive Board, AACT member, SAG-AFTRA Member

  • 3.  RE: Managing 31 G1-6 Students

    Posted 02-20-2024 09:28
    Edited by Analiese Hamm 02-20-2024 09:33

    I agree, help would be wonderful! But if you are like me, finding good help, and not just another person to add to the crowd just asking 50 million questions is seemingly impossible.

    Classroom management in an active working environment (for me) is all about CHUNKING!  Chunk  and structure!

    1. You are working with kids with very limited focus time (I don't care how old they are, this is even high school kids now). So, it is all about breaking down your time into meaningful rotations.   I would take whatever you do and try to segment it into 30 minute rotations, 45 minutes at max.
    2. You are also trying to accomplish something that needs your one-on-one time (which means, you will only get to be really present in one of your "stations")

    Ideally, I would start with a 30-45 minute whole group session, then break my 31 into four groups of 6-8 for some rotations.  Three stations need to be "student" run so you could even make one student the station leader, and they never rotate, but coach each group through the task. While 1 station is your staging session.  The tough part will be grouping who you need with whom, when you need them on stage.

    To give you an example, when I start rehearsing for my spring MS show. I will have  about 30 students group on stage with me, one group paper maching treasure chests with my props master student, and one group working on scene design and costume design sketches with my stage manager student.  I will have to group my students according to who is in which scenes with whom, so that when we rotate, we will work on their specific I said, that will be the toughest part, is getting the grouping right.  My lead will most likely be exempt from the treasure chest and design projects because she most likely will spend the whole class time with me on stage.

    I've done a camp before where we have an opening session, rotate, and then come back in for a closing session.  The rotations were choreography review, trying on costumes, set painting, improv games, and then scene work. 

    OH and I keep everyone in one space, so I am still present in the room of all groups. We will spread out in the corners of the auditorium.  Our chairs are not fixed, so that helps us a bit.

    Analiese Hamm
    ECS Performing Arts Director
    Echols County High School
    Statenville GA

  • 4.  RE: Managing 31 G1-6 Students

    Posted 02-21-2024 08:28

    I usually have 30+ students in my show, mostly middle schoolers. Chunks are key! I work on everything in 30-minute sections to keep groups/everyone engaged. Identify props/sets/costumes tasks that can be done by small groups early. Also have a sense of how difficult each is for the appropriate age since your kids are young.

    I use the theater lobby to separate a group. My kids onstage can't focus with distractions. One rotation I sometimes have in the back of the auditorium is memorizing and comparing scripts to make sure we all know/wrote the same blocking.

    Regarding the lobby, I have experimented more with parent volunteers this year. To avoid spending too much time explaining, I spend a lot of time prepping  for them and ask them to come a few minutes early. I have found that the parents are very supportive and leave with a greater appreciation of all the behind the scenes work ,too. Examples I have had success with:

    • Costumes try-on - Here are 10 kids and 10 kid outfits, please see if you can match them up with one that fits and label hangers. I have also labeled 3 dresses for a specific character and winnow out what doesn't fit. Really helpful for kids who dress slowly!
    • Props building - These 7 kids all need giant lollipops. Here is cardboard, sticks, paint/markers, etc.
    • Choreography review - I give the parent musical tracks and have them play a song a few times for review of a specific number in the lobby. For this I assign a lead older kid who knows it well to answer any questions. The parent will be able to tell if the kids are all confused!
    • Memorization help - Once kids are into memorizing, a parent can run lines.
    • Props table set-up - All our kids learn about props tables, and usually a few become super into it. Once enough props have amassed, I send them with an adult to set up the tables.
    • Program preparation - This fall my sixth graders designed the logo in addition to putting together all the program basics! You can fix it up later, and I always want a parent supervising device usage.

    Break a leg!

    Laura Butchy
    BASIS Independent McLean

  • 5.  RE: Managing 31 G1-6 Students

    Posted 03-18-2024 09:29

    Thank you for the replies and suggestions. I just finished casting the show and we will begin rehearsals this week. Chunking was the way I was thinking of going before I knew that's what you called it. I was calling it small groups, or centers. But that's what I'm going to do. Have group session for 30 min or so, then groups working on props, sketching costume ideas, practicing choreography, and rehearsing music. That will keep everyone occupied and engaged. Fortunately we have a big enough space that I can keep an eye on everyone. My main considerations are 1. keeping the busy bodies occupied so we don't have the "idle hands..." issue and 2. making sure the time we use is constructive. Again, thank you so much for the ideas they were very helpful.

    Sean Graham
    Performing Arts & Homeroom Teacher
    Troupe Director, Troupe 11103
    Proud Producer of Theater in Taiwan
    Intl. Bilingual Sch. at Central Taiwan Sci. Park