MY TEACHING PHILOSOPHY
The focal points of any acting, directing, design and/or management courses teach the students valuable life lessons. The skills of communication, leadership and vision, organization, collaboration, and the consideration of diverse points of view are inherent in drama. What this implies is that my first responsibility as an educator is to prepare students for the world beyond school. Secondly, I have the important task of giving students an appreciation for theatre; the world of theatre is filled with important events and people, literature, theory, and themes that resonate with everyone on the planet. Thirdly, I have come to realize that we, as educators, must keep up with new educational trends and meet those new movements with new forms and be inclusive of technology when training our students. We must strive to use the latest technology in the presentation of theatre and teach every aspect of this technology from projection design to digital control boards. However, I believe our biggest challenge is to teach our students to balance. In other words, we should embrace the technology –new and old-without compromising the story.
The students in my general education classes (Theater Appreciation, Music Appreciation, and Storytelling) have been traditional college age, older, married with children, English Language Learners, displaced miners, nurses in training, teachers in training, athletes, students with agoraphobia and other disabilities, and an online community of learners that includes students from the surrounding region and other states in the U.S. I have learned to take students where they are and involve them in the subject in ways that, hopefully, will intrinsically motivate them. Quite often the learning style of a student is the critical factor that determines their achievement in my classes so I am sensitive to the fact that every student, regardless of background, has unique and personal qualities that will be critical to their learning success. I allow these factors to inform my curricular design and, as a result, I almost never teach any course the exact same way twice.
The approach that I embrace as a theatre educator is one that gives the theatre student the best opportunities for their lives. Personally, I don’t wish to train actors or designers for Broadway. I prefer to teach theatre citizens; people that understand the value of the design process, people that listen to others like an actor on the stage, people that understand the power of creative collaboration. I’ve had the greatest personal satisfaction casting someone in an unexpected role and seeing them rise to the occasion, opening up new worlds to students that have never attended a live play, giving a student writer the chance to produce their play, and collaboratively creating an original production that profoundly changed the students view of the world.