Active learning increases pupil engagement. This was a key message from research completed by PGCE Drama Programme Leader, Emma Thayer. Emma recently shared her experiences of working with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) at a research seminar in the Cardiff School of Education.
The project, which involved the promotion of active approaches to teaching Shakespeare in schools, took place whilst she was working as a Head of Drama in Somerset. Through a professional development programme, run by the RSC, Emma became a regional Lead Practitioner engaged in developing teachers’ skills and promoting research around the active approaches.
Her research indicated that working collaboratively, using the active strategies, not only supported pupil engagement but it also increased their social confidence, so that they were better able to express and share ideas and opinions, for example. Her research also explored the value of seeing the role of a teacher as a director/facilitator, so that the teacher facilitates the pupils’ understanding and development, as opposed to directly providing information. Emma also saw the value of cross-curricular connections, including between Drama and English.
Through this three-year project, Emma became engaged in whole range of exciting experiences, including a Regional Schools Festival, taking a group of pupils to perform at Stratford-upon-Avon at on the RSC stage and seeing pupils’ filmed work being shown at the local Odeon. Emma also gained a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching Shakespeare from the University of Warwick. She is now sharing her insight, skills and knowledge with students at Cardiff Met.