Good Teacher? Bad Teacher? How drama teachers negotiate their professional identities and contexts

Year: 2015

Author: Wood, Katrina

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Drama teachers play a central role in how the current educational neo-liberal policies that promote competencies in numeracy and literacy are negotiated in drama. Despite a large body of research supporting drama teachers’ work in schools and its importance to creating rich learning environments, drama remains a marginalised curriculum area. This paper shares case studies from my Masters which explored the lived experience of four drama teachers from four different state and private secondary schools. Over one school term these participants were interviewed twice and shared stories about their experiences of working in schools and how they negotiate their personal and professional contexts.
This paper interrogates their experience using a critical paradigm that suggests there is a politics that informs what can be learned in Drama and how it should be taught. Transcripts uncovered relationships between teachers’ perceptions of lived experience and social, cultural and historical discourses. Some of the findings reveal that drama teachers believe drama offers something unique in school and often use it as a vehicle to raise awareness about social and cultural conditions they believe were left unexplored in school. Although drama teachers see the subject of drama providing alternative pathways for their students, they are constrained by dominant assessment systems that fail to recognise the embodied learning experiences of students. This presentation will discuss some of the ways drama teachers confront, contest, accept and/or resist these powerful spaces that influence their work and shape their professional identity.