Have you ever had a student come to you after theater or rehearsal and say, “I can’t do (xyz) that I worked on. It’s too hard! “This can be hard to hear, especially if you’ve been working on that topic or task for a while and it’s the first time you’ve heard about it. Is your student really struggling and looking for help? Or is he trying to give up?
Here are 10 tips that can help you deal with student rejection if (or when) it occurs:
1. Thank them for speaking. It can be a challenge for students to advocate for themselves. Tell them you’re glad they came to you with their concerns.
2. Ask them to explain the situation. Can I articulate specifically what difficulties they have? Or is it a general feeling of defeat? Is this an individual problem or does it affect other students? The more details the student can give you, the clearer the situation will be.
3. Ask them for potential solutions. What would he do in your situation? Can they suggest some options or hope you will fix them? This gives you an idea if they want help or just want to complain. It can also help you assess how much effort they are willing to put into solving the problem. Are realistic solutions possible? Are they timely? Does it affect others in any way?
4. Highlight available resources. Do you have rehearsal videos available? Did the student ask you for help before that or from a classmate? Did they practice outside of class? Did they do their homework? In short, did they get to work?
5. Meet them where they are. Can something be adjusted or simplified? For example, if you are struggling with a choreography piece from a dance number, can the movements be changed? (It may or may not be enough time to do this. How would it affect other students?) Do they need a different way of looking at things? Can you show them a video or an article to help them?
6. Consider the source. Is the work really too hard or just complaining? What else is going on in their lives? Have other teachers noticed similar things happening in their classrooms?
7. Encourage them. Remind them that I can do hard things. Give specific examples if you have them. Here are 20 ways to praise your students.
8. At the same time, be honest. It is good to pick them up, but also to let them know if, for example, you have noticed that they have not used their class time effectively lately or have waited until it is too close to a deadline or show the time. to change something. Tell them how a change can affect the rest of the group, if it is a group project.
9. Come up with a solution. Eventually, you will both have to figure out what to do. You may be able to offer a compromise or offer additional help or a new explanation, or you may not be able to do anything at that time. The student is allowed to feel what he feels about the decision – then it is up to him to decide how to proceed. It can be a difficult pill to swallow for your student if he is not satisfied with the solution, but we hope he can learn from experience.
10. Don’t take it personally. You may feel frustrated or defensive if a student claims that what you are doing is too hard, but theater class is meant to challenge students. Support your work and be proud of what you teach. Remember, you are a wonderful educator!
Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage fighter from London, Ontario, Canada. She writes on the blog at www.kerryhishon.com.
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