The following article comes from the North West Champion for Open Drama UK Mair Bull, who shares how an idea over lockdown has turned into a supportive network for drama teachers.

Open Drama UK and Manchester Metropolitan University have collaborated to create a free online resource bank called #DramaSupport for early-career Drama educators.

Launched in July 2020, #DramaSupport is a resource bank on YouTube that contains a series of specially created video shorts. The videos offer advice and insight into a range of topics relating to Drama teaching and learning, making this a unique and contemporary training source.

#DramaSupport has been created in collaboration between Open Drama UK – a free platform for teachers, theatre practitioners and industry experts to advance, improve and benefit young people through drama – and Manchester Metropolitan University’s Drama PGCE course.

Manchester Met’s course is an incredibly popular and a well-established route into teaching, lead by Dr Rebecca Patterson who hosted the launch of #DramaSupport with Open Drama UK’s North West Champion, Mair Bull.

Contributors to #DramaSupport include companies such as the prestigious Royal National Theatre, Graeae theatre company (who champion D/deaf and disabled artists), Curious Minds (the Arts Council’s North West ‘bridge’ company) and the Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust (a charity specialising in promoting access to Shakespeare’s life and works).

In addition, videos from experienced educators are also proving incredibly popular on the platform, with topics such as LGBT+, how to build positive relationships, an inquiry curriculum and effective strategies for Key Stage 5, to name but a few.

On the launch day back in July, the videos were accompanied by a live chat on Twitter using the hashtag #DramaSupport to participate in question and answer sessions with the speakers. The volume of responses was phenomenal, and Drama teachers and trainees from far and wide were interacting, sharing ideas and building connections.

One previous Manchester Met trainee teacher emailed to say “I’m loving the event today with Open Drama and MMU. So informative and useful. Also great to connect with other Drama teachers from all over the UK and beyond.”

Participants’ Reflections

Speakers involved in the video shorts and the live Twitter chat have also expressed their enthusiasm in being part of the experience, stating that it has also helped to further develop their own professional practice.

For example, teacher Ashley Thomas stated that ‘it was a great experience to be involved in. It has grown my confidence and made me feel more secure in myself as a Dyslexic Drama teacher tweeting about my subject and passion in an open forum. I have learnt many things from experienced Drama practitioners that I am able to apply in my own practice. As well as build a positive network of like-minded specialists with open, honest and reflective teachers’.

I really do believe that together we have made a difference and we will continue to do so.

Rachel Carr

In addition, Rachel Carr, whose video on mental health has proven to be one of the most popular on the platform, stated that ‘Being part of the Open Drama & MMU event was an incredible experience and demonstrated what a wonderful community of Drama educators we have. I really do believe that together we have made a difference and we will continue to do so’.

Rachel continued by speaking directly to early career teachers; ‘I hope you will see what a refreshing perspective you bring and how invaluable you are to a department! Please know that there is a wonderful community of educators that want to share, help and support you in your journey. Particularly, in the circumstance we find ourselves in right now, please keep this conversation surrounding mental health going, please talk, please look after yourself and know you are not alone’.

The Future

In response to the huge popularity of the free event and the resource, the YouTube platform is going to continue to stay open, free and accessible so it can be used by early-career teachers and training providers across the world: #DramaSupport.

Other companies and professionals, such as the Royal Court Theatre, Royal Exchange Theatre, Lyfta (an award-winning teaching platform) and the charity The Difference (who focus on reducing school exclusions) have all pledged to create videos shorts to be added into this engaging and inspiring bank of resources for early-career Drama teachers.

Get Involved!

If you would like to create a video for the platform please email Mair Bull: northwest.opendramauk@gmail.com – we would love to keep adding and developing this resource so it continues to be a hub of useful information.

Keep up to date with Open Drama UK by signing up to the free mailing list here: https://opendramauk.org/join/.

Author

Mair Bull

Mair Bull is a former teacher, now at Manchester Metropolitan University completing an MA in Educational Leadership and Management.

She is also a content writer for BBC Bitesize, GCSEpod and the TES.

Mair is an experienced examiner, a Vice-Chair of Governors at a Pupil Referral Unit and the North West Champion for Open Drama UK.

Follow Mair on Twitter – @MairBull