Shaking up Shakespeare

31 August 2020 | Posted in: Curriculum

Hands up who is the teensiest bit afraid of teaching Shakespeare? I’m not going to lie, I used to be petrified. It’s not a language I find easy by any means and I have sat through plays where I haven’t the faintest idea what some scenes were about. So when I was offered the chance to train with the Royal Shakespeare Company, to learn how to bring Shakespeare’s words to life in the classroom, I was about 50% excited and 50% terrified. I was about to walk into a room full of secondary English and drama teachers and RSC practitioners, all of whom were an awful lot more familiar and confident about Shakespeare than I was. At the time, I was ‘just’ a primary teacher with a love of English and drama but who had never taught a single drama curriculum lesson in my life. It turned out to be the best professional development of my career.

Training with the Royal Shakespeare Company
As a junior school teacher, and someone who has never been a natural with Shakespeare, the way in which we were encouraged to approach his words really resonated with me. Interactive activities, repetition, small chunks and looking at every play through their ‘rehearsal room approach’ started to bring out a new confidence in me when looking at the texts.

After my first 3-day PD course with the RSC in Shanghai, I came back to school excited and eager to implement the ideas – I find if I don’t do this straight away, I lose the impact that the course has had on me. I orchestrated a Tudor Arts Day in year 5 (ages 9-10), where the children had a chance to dip their toes into the tragedies of Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth.

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