Reading/Interest Level: Teachers of Young Adult
Author: Margaret F. Johnson
Publisher: Meriwether Publishing Ltd.
Relying on her 37 years of experience teaching drama in high school, Margaret Johnson doles out her wisdom in The Drama Teacher’s Survival Guide #2. The book is most useful for first year teachers, especially teachers without a degree in theatre who have been assigned to teach the drama class at their school. Still, the practical advice will spark ideas in more experienced teachers. Basic procedures and ideology for a drama classroom are laid out in detail with samples (available for use,) for letters to parents, course management and grading systems. Johnson also supplies eight units to fill the school year: Improvisation, Technical Theatre, Choral Reading, Mime, Stage Fighting, Solo and Duo Acting Activities, Monologues, and Writing a Show. The appendix includes all grading rubric, tests, handouts and some script examples.
The book includes practical advice ranging from the concrete – keeping an index box of scene start suggestions to be used in multiple lessons, to suggestions for making first time performers comfortable and ideas for handling tough classroom situations. Johnson uses her experience to anticipate challenges that will occur and offers ways to prevent or deal with those issues. Notably missing from the text is any mention of state or national learning standards. Experienced teachers will also note the exclusion of any work with objectives and tactics, vital to the success of a beginning actor. The use of a different font used in an indented paragraph in scattered places throughout the book is somewhat confusing and never explained. Teachers who use this book may be interested in Johnson’s first book, The Drama Teacher’s Survival Guide, which explores all aspects of producing a play in a high school setting.