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A Transformative Week at Baboró's CPD Course

July 11, 2019

Participants in this year’s Continuous Professional Development (CPD) course, “Drama Tools for the Classroom,” left motivated and prepared to spread their learning into Galway’s arts and education communities. As one attendee put it, “I definitely feel comfortable teaching all of the activities/methodologies because I have tried them myself and enjoyed them.”

A Transformative Week at Baboró's CPD Course
Our group wrapping up day one at the O’Donoghue Centre, NUI Galway

The week-long course hosted by Baboró was designed for primary school teachers but also open to educators, therapists, artists and facilitators. A diverse group of participants were brought together by their appreciation for the art of communication, the development of empathy and the value of cooperation. The course demonstrated how to use drama and the creative arts to effectively engage children in teaching a range of topics.

The course covered all the required teaching methodologies such as Active Learning; Problem Solving; Collaborative Learning and Discussion and Use of Environment. The group also developed skills adaptable to a multitude of settings and subject areas. Participants were then guided through the processes of using drama as a methodology that supports the Using, Understanding and Communicating elements of the New Primary Language curriculum.

“I thoroughly enjoyed being gently pushed out of my comfort zone”

Irene O’Meara, the course’s facilitator, is dedicated to a hands-on approach that encourages participants to step just outside their comfort zone into what she calls the “learning zone”, where all the magic happens.

Irene’s approach is inwardly as well as outwardly oriented. She teaches drama as process rather than product: the process of accessing and expressing vulnerability. This methodology is refreshing for those accustomed to experiencing drama solely as performance. Irene instead emphasizes drama as a means for communication and cooperation in many forms.

“We were guided in a very gentle way to reach extraordinary heights!”

Irene led the group through various exercises to explore the practice of communication in an accessible way. Improvisational activities involving tongue twisters are a wonderful way of accessing and communicating feelings without the pressure of finding the right words. Tongue twister activities are especially inclusive toward EAL students who may use whichever language they wish while participating fully.

“Irene paced the course so well integrating art, literacy and music.”

Drama is hardly a standalone subject in Irene’s classroom. Her methodology is well suited to content from classes in literature, history, visual arts, music and more. Students might tap into the mind state of the characters from the Greek myth of Arachne in a drama exercise, for instance, before diving into the story’s weaving theme by weaving some fabric of their own.

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Alternatively, collaborative tableaus are a perfect drama exercise for digging into a text in a literature course. They provide a bite-sized format for learning about theatre techniques such as positioning and eye contact.

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“Irene gave us lots of ideas for the classroom as well as ideas for integration with other subjects. I’m looking forward to trying out these ideas in class.”

Group singing incorporating rounds and harmonies can be a wonderful way to combine music with drama’s principles of communication and cooperation. The group concluded the week with a song praising nature in the lovely outdoor setting of NUIG’s campus.

“As a drama facilitator, [the course] reminds you to see things from the perspective of a participant.”

“Drama Tools for the Classroom” provides insights that extend even beyond drama and the classroom – there’s something to learn for anyone interested in the arts and children’s education. Stepping into the shoes of their students throughout the week’s activities equips participants with a deep understanding of how the methodology and content of the course can impact young learners.

Baboró would like to thank our facilitator Irene O’Meara, the O’Donoghue Center at NUI Galway, and the group of artists and educators who participated throughout the week! We look forward to seeing how the course will impact their classrooms and artistic pursuits in the coming year.

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