The Drama Teachers Training Program
A Brief about the project:
With the support of the Welfare Association, ASHTAR Theatre in cooperation with Yes Theater were enabled to present an intensive Drama Training program for the UNRWA teachers in the West Bank. This program enabled the teachers to use Drama in the classrooms and to form Theater Clubs with their students over a period of 18 months, starting September 2011 till April 2013.
The program aimed to enhance the students’ physical, mental, and psychological abilities in order to improve their learning and creative abilities. It allowed them to gain skills in communication and self expression, stimulating their imagination, and activating their creative group dynamics. The program also increased the students’ focusing capacities, positive interactions, and critical thinking and decreased their stress.
The Drama Teachers' Training program targeted the students through training and developing their teachers’ skills in using drama as a subject and as a tool inside the classroom, and in creating Theatre Clubs in the schools. The program was able to reach a number of 60 male and female teachers from 41 UNRWA schools in the West Bank, and lasted for 18 months, reaching more than 10,000 students from both genders. The teachers were enabled to give at least one drama class every semester in every class room throughout the two scholastic years 2011- 2013.
On the other hand, 613 male and female students from 41 schools from the Northern, Middle and Southern areas of the West Bank were trained to present plays. The students’ plays were presented in a school festival, over 2 weeks from the 17th to the 28th of February 2013.
ASHTAR and Yes Theatres are keen to proceed with this program in cooperation with the UNRWA – WB, hoping to make the program systematic within the UNRWA schools.
While childhood is considered to be the most important and dangerous stage in the personality development; children in Palestine face various challenges and pressures especially through their course of growing. Therefore, my fellow teachers and I decided to participate in ASHTAR and Yes Theater Drama Training Program. Our participation is a step towards decreasing the pressure befallen upon our children, knowing that Drama helps improving the students’ behaviors and manners and increasing their abilities to express themselves and let go their latent negative energies!
The established Drama Clubs in schools which were joined by female and male students were active through celebrating certain holidays and events; such as: Health Day, Woman’s Day, Teacher’s Day, and Persons with Disabilities Day.
Drama Clubs were not the program’s single outcome. Teachers in all schools started giving Drama classes to their students in their schools and in different schools. Drama has widely affected the students’ attitude and productivity as they became more active in class, more expressive, outspoken and creative. Students were trained to work in teams and this increased their self confidence, stimulated their imagination, decreased their aggressiveness stimulated their collaborations inside the classroom.
One of the trained students was very introvert, refusing to participate in the class activities or even to play with his fellow classmates; but after joining the Drama Club, he became more active and he smiled for the first time while exercising. Directly, this has positively affected his grades.
Striving to go away from the traditional methods of lecturing and memorizing, teachers have started inserting theater games and exercises in their teaching process. The used games and exercises, helped the students to become more concentrated in class, more excited to come to school and more creative in expressing their thoughts and questions.
Thereafter, we advise our fellow teachers to join such programs, hence it is very valuable. Thus, we hope the UNRWA and the training organizations would take the following recommendations in consideration:
1- The necessity of dedicating two Drama classes per week so the teacher would be able to deliver the needed information to the students.
2- It is preferable not to schedule Drama training sessions\workshops on weekends or on holidays.
3- Shortening the program’s period in order to sustain the teachers’ attention and interest.
In the name of the trained teachers I would like to thank ASHTAR Theatre, Yes Theater, UNRWA and The Welfare.
Photos from the ceromony on the 7th f March, 2013 at Al-Kasaba Theater.