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  • 1.  Teaching responsibilities

    Posted 11-28-2022 10:02
    Hello fellow Theatre Educators,

    Looking for some guidance/ perspective when it comes to an appropriate teaching load for those who also produce and direct productions at their schools. I'm only in my 2nd year of full-time teaching in a high school. In addition to producing/ directing/ choreographing/ managing 2 theatre productions per year and serving as fine arts dept chair, I also teach 5 classes (4 preps). Admittedly, I often feel overwhelmed by the workload, but have been chalking it up to being a new teacher. Is this a typical teaching load? Any insight or suggestions on how to juggle so many things would be greatly appreciated!

    Many thanks from a newbie theatre teacher!

    Kristin Nemecek
    Theatre Teacher/ Director
    St. Anthony High School

  • 2.  RE: Teaching responsibilities

    Posted 11-29-2022 09:04
    That is a lot but is not unusual.  Four preps is pretty normal in the Arts.  As for the extracurricular--are you being compensated for each position individually?  We have a separate stipend for Director and Choreographer so I hope you are boing paid for both.   If it were me I'd let go of the choreography and hire someone to do that so you have a few nights off a week.  Our PA Chair is a separate administrative position that has a healthy salary.  That sounds unusual to be a chair and a teacher.

    Laura Russo
    Teacher/Director of Theatre Arts
    Chatham High School

  • 3.  RE: Teaching responsibilities

    Posted 11-29-2022 10:30
    This is pretty much what I do. We have a 4 by 4 schedule, so I teach 6 courses a year. 3 of these courses are all Beginning Theatre- so that helps. Also, this will get easier. Still exhausting, but easier with experience.

    I would recommend a few things:
    1- Start to streamline your lessons if you can. If one class is working on Greek drama, then maybe another is as well, but more or less rigorous. I teach all of my classes sewing at the same time, we do makeup units the same week in each class, and we all read a play (although different plays) at the same time. This helps me a lot with prep.

    2- Use the talents of your kids! Do you have any dancers who can choreograph for/with you? Can your upper level kids work on set design and building for the extracurricular show you are working on? Theatre is a team event, the students are all a part of the team!

    3- TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! Schedule a massage, make sure you are exercising in a way that you like weekly (running around teaching and teching doesn't count towards self care), treat yourself to a pedi, a special dessert, a new outfit you can't wear to school, whatever it is you like. If you don't take care of yourself, you will break down physically and mentally. You are worth more than that. 

    Hillary Bogers, MEd
    Theatre Director
    Jack Britt High School

    Tutoring 7:45-8:21 in the morning, or by appointment

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  • 4.  RE: Teaching responsibilities

    Posted 11-29-2022 10:41
    This is pretty much a standard load for me as well.  I have three period of theatre (all different levels) and two periods of advanced English.  I have had my upper grades student direct our one act performances in the fall which is helpful and they love it.  That still leaves the Winter and Spring Showcases, a full musical in the spring, and a Spring set of either one acts or other similar evening of performances.  It gets overwhelming at times (especially during competition season), but it is rewarding.  Hang in there and reach out to parents and seniors who are ready or willing to tackle some delegated tasks.

    Amy MacCord
    Musical Theatre Teacher
    Westwood Middle School

  • 5.  RE: Teaching responsibilities

    Posted 11-29-2022 12:15
    When I started teaching 29 years ago, I was given multiple extracurricular tasks to do such as yearbook and cheerleading, although I had no experience. I had multiple preps and produced 2 plays, one being a musical, and did Thespians on top of that. At a different school now I have 3 preps which is still too much considering all the theater activities I do. 
    It seems you are headed to burnout. It seems unreasonable to have a 2nd-year teacher heading up an entire dept. You have a choice in that. Talk to your union rep for help with how to talk to your admin. about this workload. So many educators are leaving and burn-out is a top reason. 

    Amy Sando
    Drama and English Teacher
    Douglas High School
    Douglas County School District
    775-782-5136 x1772/1775

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  • 6.  RE: Teaching responsibilities

    Posted 11-29-2022 12:45
    Unfortunately Kristin what you described is pretty typical. My program did 3 to 4 main stage shows and 25 to 40 student directed one-acts a year. I had five classes and 4 preps like you, ran a weekly Tech Tuesday lass for students interested but couldn't get into the regular class. On top of that I was also the theatre manager for our performing arts facility,  booking and supporting in school and outside events.

    Yes it can be overwhelming, but one usually finds ways to cope, find acceptable shortcuts, and become extremely effective in managing time. Don't be afraid to engage your students in ways they can help you with your load. It allows them growth as well and a feeling of accomplishment.

    Keep up the good work!

    Stewart Hawk
    Washington State Thespian Co-Chapter Director

  • 7.  RE: Teaching responsibilities

    Posted 11-29-2022 15:15
    I have a similar load, but only 4 classes. For nearly 30 years, I had only 3 English classes and drama classes, which met only once a week, plus two productions. That was definitely more manageable.

    Sent from my iPad

  • 8.  RE: Teaching responsibilities

    Posted 11-30-2022 09:06

    Unfortunately, that sounds like a normal schedule for a theater teacher. I produce, and direct about 5 shows a year and teach with only 1 prep period. One. I cannot believe people get more than that. Some schools do have teachers as Chairs, we do not.
    After 15 years directing our Spring Musical, I stepped down, due to burnout.  
    At only 2 years, (our tenure is 4), stand up for yourself, give up a job or two, and save your sanity. It is too much!

    Lynn Quinn
    Theater Instructor/Director
    Passaic County Technical Institute

  • 9.  RE: Teaching responsibilities

    Posted 11-30-2022 15:09
    Kristin, as others have said, this is a pretty typical load--except for that department chair responsibility.  That is the duty you might drop.  I have trouble believing that you are in that position as a 2nd-year teacher.  (Did other fine arts teachers not want to attend the meetings?)   I recommend that you talk to your principal.

    I concur with what others have said about letting talented students take some of that load.  My favorite choreographers over the years were students who were terrific at designing dances that featured the students who had taken dance classes, but also taught basic dance steps that made students with no dance training look and feel great.

    I also made use of a carefully curated set of filmed plays and musicals that demonstrated what I had taught in lessons.  These were super helpful when I needed a grading day or to work on a playbill during class.  For each film, I created a worksheet that guided them to find what I wanted them to notice and gave them room to write about their favorite and least favorite scenes and characters.  Some of the students' favorites were Hallmark's The Piano Lesson by August Wilson--for which he wrote the screenplay--and the Royal National Theatre's 1999 film of Oklahoma! starring Hugh Jackman.

    I echo Hillary in saying you need to take time for yourself.  Take care of yourself.  

    CJ Breland
    Retired Theatre Arts Educator

  • 10.  RE: Teaching responsibilities

    Posted 12-13-2022 10:26

    As others have said this is pretty typical. I taught 28 years, did three shows a year (including a musical) and taught 3-4 preps (mostly ELA, some theatre).

    This usually results in either teachers who learn how to manage time well, delegate to (and train) students, and find a good work/life balance--OR complete burnout. 

    I hope you get your feet under you, and have a long, successful career! Break all the legs!

    Michael Corliss

    Michael Corliss