The SAIL Teaching Framework

This is a condensed version of the complete chart, but it's a good place to start.  Click for a larger view (and to download).

July 26, 2012

Why Stagecraft?

Teaching in a classroom is a kind of performance.  All teachers know this, but some are uncomfortable with the word "performance."  For me to invoke stagecraft as a pillar of my framework thus requires some explaining.

The anxiety around the word "performance" stems from a misunderstanding; performance means entertainment, and entertaining is the opposite of boring.  Students hate boredom and like entertainment, so if you're not entertaining enough as a teacher, the students will hate you.  But if you are nothing but entertaining, you are not doing your job.  You can't win.

So first, performance does not mean entertainment.  Performance means taking physical charge of a roomful of people in a way that is planned, practiced, aware, and proactive.  To perform well is to do it gracefully, with poise and presence, humor and seriousness, using both training and improvisation.  The performer is acutely aware of the audience, and knows how to read and work with their emotional energy.

Second, all teachers perform in the classroom - it's just a matter of whether the performance is deliberate or haphazard, the teacher conscious or unconscious.  Wouldn't you prefer to understand and develop the physical impact you have on your class, and put that impact to work in your teaching?

Read this statement from the Circus Center in San Fransisco, where one can get training in physical performance.  As you read, substitute the word "teacher" for "clown", and "classroom" for "stage."  Then ponder your own level of teacherly stagecraft.
The clown teacher knows no limits, recognizes no rules or boundaries. Not because the clown teacher is rebellious or anarchic, but because they are infinitely curious about the world. They have a powerful desire to relate on all levels – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Clown comedy teaching is born out of this unbridled curiosity, this desire to play with learn everything. This is not the play of the child but of the adult, who enters into the game with a greater level of experience, awareness and a deeper range of emotion.
Read Notes from the Director on Clown.

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