I Trained to be a Children's Drama Teacher: Case Study
Jessica Purcell, 26, is currently training to be a children’s drama group teacher at a leading performing arts school in London.
She told us about how she decided to follow this career path. “I had always enjoyed drama at school but felt frustrated that my drama teacher was not particularly inspiring. We only ever talked about ‘classic’ plays, which are fine, but I would have loved to be able to be really creative. After doing my A’ Levels, including Performing Arts, I went to university to do a teaching degree, specialising in drama.”
University LifeJessica found that a whole new world opened up for her at university and thoroughly enjoyed her three year course.
She continued, “I finally found a drama teacher that was as passionate as I was about unusual plays, coming up with improvisations and being inspired by anything and everything. It was so exciting and I saw the power of a great teacher. I wanted to be able to take that passion into the classroom and inspire pupils to explore themselves through drama.”
During her time at university, Jessica took part in a number of plays and theatre groups, which gave her even more ideas to take to the classroom.
“I feel so privileged that I found what I wanted to do with my life so early on because I have friends from school and university that have still not discovered the right career path. At university, some friends from my course thought they wanted to be drama teachers too, but there were elements of the course that they didn’t enjoy at all. One friend loved the course but found the work experience in a high school really awful and realised she didn’t want to work with kids at all! Luckily, I loved my work experience, which just made me even more determined.”
Time Out Before Full Time WorkAfter graduating with a 2:1 BEd in Drama, Jessica was offered a full-time teaching position at the local high school where she had completed her work placement. Although she was very appreciative of the offer, Jessica asked if she could defer the job for six months in order to travel and gain some extra work experience before committing to a long-term career.
Jessica commented, “My reasoning to the headmistress was that I knew I wanted to make a real difference to the school and commit to working there for many years, so I wanted to get a bit of travelling out of my system first. I also wanted to see some examples of other drama groups around the world so I could add some more ‘real life’ experience to my theoretical work at university. Thankfully, she was able to get a supply teacher for that period, as long as I promised to return!”
“I spent around five months travelling and I learnt a great deal about myself in that time. I travelled to Australia and New Zealand, where my sister lives, and I was lucky enough to go into her daughter’s school when they had a drama lesson about aboriginal dancing. I also went to New York and saw a show on Broadway and spent some time in London visiting some really tiny theatres.”
Ready to CommitOnce Jessica had returned from her travels, she telephoned the headmistress of the school in order to arrange a start date.
“I had learnt such a lot of my travels and felt really ready to commit to full-time work. I’ve now been at the school for nearly a year and I’m loving every minute of it. I’ve established an after school drama group and we’ve been introducing some really unusual texts to the GCSE Drama class. I have to say that one of my favourite parts of the job is seeing my students gain in confidence. It may be that they’re not particularly good in other subjects but they can really flourish in drama.”