As we wrap up the school year, you may be dreaming of sleeping in late, spending days at the pool, and avoiding all responsibilities for a bit. While that does sound lovely, now is also a great time to reflect on your theatre curriculum over the past year.

When evaluating your curriculum, you and your fellow theatre professionals should ask a variety of questions. The answers will impact your decisions for next year’s curriculum and any plans you have for summer programming. On The Stage explores why theatre is essential in schools and the components to consider when evaluating your lesson plans – both past and future. 

The Importance of Theatre Curriculum in School

If you’re reading this post, you’re most likely already aware that theatre education is crucial for student development. But just as a refresher, let’s go over just a few reasons why this type of education is so important in schools:

It Builds Confidence 

Arts education helps students in many ways. It assists them in making creative decisions, taking risks, trusting in their own ideas, improving self-esteem, and cultivating a positive sense of self. This leads to greater confidencenot only on the stage or behind the scenes but also in other academic settings, extracurriculars, and life outside school. 

It Improves Critical Thinking 

With the right kind of theatre education, students think more critically, thus improving their problem-solving abilities. This rings true no matter what role a student is in – perhaps they’re learning about the technical aspects of theatre, like blocking, perspective, lighting and sound, balance, or the on-stage elements of theatre – acting, emoting, singing, dancing. Either way, these experiences boost critical thinking and problem-solving capabilities, leading to a more well-rounded student in and outside the class. 

It Creates Empathy

Knowing history, science, and math will take you places in life, but at the end of the day, it’s human connection that really matters. That’s where theatre comes in – teaching soft skills, social tolerance, and empathy. 

Studies show that participation in theatre is linked to higher levels of civic engagement. This, in turn, leads to higher levels of social intelligence, empathy, and emotional regulation – all of which are critical to interpersonal relationships, which hold a lot of weight in both personal and professional environments.

It Improves Academic Achievement 

Participating in theatre doesn’t just make a student a better person morally – it also helps them achieve more in the classroom! Multiple studies confirm that participation in theatre activities is linked to excellent academic performance – higher test scores, higher graduation rates, better reading comprehension, and better language retention skills. 

Things to Consider When Evaluating Your Theatre Curriculum 

Now that we’ve confirmed that theatre is essential to incorporate into academic settings, let’s get back to the crux of this article: what you should consider when evaluating your theatre curriculum. Ask yourself the following questions before making any significant decisions on your theatre programming for next year:

What do you want students to take away from your class?

As an educator, your primary goal is to leave a lasting positive impact on your students and prepare them for the future. But if you dig deeper into the why, you can shape your lesson plans more powerfully. 

Consider what, specifically, you want your students to learn from your class and take with them into the future. This will affect the pieces you choose to perform, the exercises you run in class, and the general tone of your classes. 

Do school- or district-wide theatre curriculum requirements exist?

This is a more logistical question, but it’s important nonetheless. Make sure you’re evaluating your curriculum critically to confirm that you’re hitting the benchmarks your school or district requires. 

Maybe you’re required to hit on acting, writing, producing, designing, directing, or another critical component of theatre education. Perhaps you have to perform at least one piece from Shakespeare per semester. No matter the requirements, studying them can help you mold your curriculum into an interactive, organized, and dynamic lesson plan that will both educate and entertain your students. 

Which elements of your previous theatre curriculum worked, and which didn’t?

Unless you’re starting totally from scratch, your previous curriculum acts as a perfect backdrop for planning next year’s. Reflect on the season and individual class days. Consider which pieces of theatre brought out the best in your students, stimulated critical thinking and conversation, and pushed your team to better themselves. 

Look at day-to-day activities and exercises, which also helped students improve soft and hard skills. What pushed them out of their comfort zones in a way that felt exhilarating but not scary? What exercises yielded the most improvement in overall class morale and skill retention? 

What are the strengths and weaknesses of your students?

Whether you’re working with the same students as in previous years or have a new crop, learn about them before shaping your lesson plans. 

Maybe this year’s group of students are excellent dancers but need help with vocals. Perhaps they’re curious about improv but have little interest in the technical components of the theatre. From here, you can cater to their strengths, weaknesses, and interests … but also find new ways to get them excited about elements they may not have cared about before. Your job, after all, is to create students with well-rounded skill sets! 

Do you have a budget allotment?

It’s no secret that theatre needs more funding—especially in school programs. That said, your budget is perhaps the most significant consideration when picking shows to perform and exercises to try in class. Looking at the hard numbers will help you determine the types of shows you can do, as well as the complexity of set pieces, costuming, or even the possibility of field trips.

How much time do you have with your students?

You may have your kids all school year long. But many may only be taking the class for a quarter or semester. Plan your curriculum accordingly. After all, a surefire way to set yourself up for failure – alongside your students – is attempting to pack too much work/show prep/projects into too small of a timeframe. 

So, do you have a month? Four months? An entire school year? How long are your class periods? What is your students’ bandwidth? All of these components are crucial to forming your curriculum. After all, the mental and physical health of yourself and your students should be priority 1.

On The Stage: Tools for Educational Theatre 

Theatre requires a team effort – especially if you’re an educator with a hundred (or a thousand) other things on your plate. If you’re looking for a partner to help lighten the load, On The Stage (OTS) can help.

By partnering with OTS, your school program can knock out some of the most crucial components of theatre back-end logistics in one fell swoop: you can drive revenue with ticket sales, merchandise, and fundraising; save time and money with box office and production tools; and create a world-class experience with show sites that include professionally-designed artwork, a walk-up app, ticket scanning, show programs, and more.

With OTS as your partner to help with the sometimes-complicated logistics, you can focus on what truly matters: molding the theatre professionals of tomorrow into well-rounded, empathetic, and intelligent human beings. If you’re ready to start your journey, book a personalized demo today.

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