Teaching Teachers With Theater!

Performance Training & Tactics for Classroom Teachers

by Jim Senti (Author)
©2018 Textbook XXXIV, 162 Pages


Teaching Teachers With Theater!: Performance Training & Tactics for Classroom Teachers explores day-to-day classroom performance challenges K–12 teachers face and how the practice of certain theater techniques used to train actors can improve a teacher’s student engagement and connection. Jim Senti’s work exposes K–12 classroom teachers to the activities and training that will help them become a more comfortable, connective, exciting, and engaging teacher in the classroom. Teaching Teachers With Theater! defines typical challenges teachers face in the classroom. The activities in each chapter vary from how the reader can improve their body language, voice, and physicality to illustrating how developing acute observation can help train a teacher’s empathy and compassion. This book also explains how improvisation games help train a teacher’s ability to deal with surprises in the classroom and even offers some tips on how to tell a great story. Teaching Teachers With Theater! translates the vocabulary used in theater to a vocabulary a teacher often uses and gives teachers simple step-by-step activities, which could be extremely useful in faculty development. In the end, these practices will help teachers become stronger communicators by learning to be far more comfortable with performing in order to genuinely connect with their students. If a teacher is comfortable in their ability to communicate, they will have a stronger connection with their students. They will without question become far more entertaining to their students. This engagement will solve the majority of classroom management issues.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Advance praise for Teaching Teachers With Theater!
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: How Theater Can Make More Compassionate Teachers
  • Part I: Performance Training
  • Chapter 1. Practicing Observation & Empathy
  • Chapter 2. Practicing Positive Reinforcement and Dealing With Surprises
  • Chapter 3. Practicing How to Tell a Story
  • Chapter 4. Practicing Strong Physicality and Voice
  • Part II: Classroom Practices, Creating
  • Chapter 5. Creating Comfortable Groups
  • Chapter 6. Creating Surprises!
  • Chapter 7. Creating Discussion
  • Conclusion: Putting It All Together
  • Appendix
  • Index

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There are a notable many, a great number who are my close friends, whose astuteness, wild passion, and patience are reflected in this book. Believe it or not, I fear I am unable to articulate in words what exactly each person means to me and have meant to me during this adventure. However, I will do my best. I hope each of them will see between the lines I write here and imagine me sitting, staring, grossly overwhelmed attempting to articulate how grateful I am, not only because they each can be defined by descriptors listed above, but primarily because they are extraordinarily kind people.

To begin there was my first reader, and friend, Marshall Botvinick, who took it upon himself to sift through my initial rough chapter drafts. He gave the critical feedback and support I needed to carry on with the work.

Once I found myself writing a text I felt had a chance at becoming useful, I gave this work over to yet another dear friend, Tyler Seiple. He patiently, and expertly, examined the work, and gave me a master class in finding a voice through the written word. I cannot say enough of his passion and his attention. We should all be so lucky to have someone like Tyler in our lives. Pass after pass, submission after submission, it was then up to Sarah Bode, and Sara McBride from Peter Lang Publishing, who responded with a most heartening ← xiii | xiv → email curious to see if the work “had legs”. I will be forever grateful to their insight and professionalism for this process. Louis Fantasia, a fellow theater artist, colleague, and educational advisor gave the work a thorough read and offered most necessary advice. It is worth noting that Louis was the person who gave me the chance to teach professionally in the first place. It was Louis who allowed me to realize teaching as a life service and is deeply committed to the arts and education. He is a constant source of inspiration. This work was also deeply informed by the leadership of Dr. Mary Samuelson, and Dr. Kathryn Sorrells, who both gave me the opportunity to expand my teaching practices. They both are extraordinary leaders who believe passionately in education being the true vehicle for hope.

As the book came closer to becoming a reality I was calling upon the service of provocative and insightful artists: Mara Tasker, yet another friend, and a wonderfully talented photographer, filmmaker, and storyteller made sure the book had images. Wally Hasselbring, not only designed the jacket, but also provided his classic unwavering support. He has been and will continue to be a stalwart confidante in every stage and aspect of my adult life.

At the risk of sounding gawky, it cannot be forgotten that this book was a discovery. The motivation for the work came from other’s listening to me speak at great lengths about the ideas of art as education that founded the book. On the other end of these, at times incessant, monologues were some of the most compassionate team of inspiring listeners, provocative theater artists, teachers, and dear friends I have come to know: Kaaron Briscoe-Minafee, Jennice Giddings, Amanda McRaven, Marissa Moses, Robert Najarian, Julie Taiwo Oni, Sean Spann, Sage Simpson, and Andy Simpson. I also had quite the cheer squad a long the way found in dear friends, and artists, David Weinheimer, and Darieus Legg.

And there is my family: Bill, my brother, and the true inspiration for this text. He has served education and given hundreds of students and their families, and his own family, my amazing nephews, and the wonderful Elise, a sense of belonging, purpose, and joy in countless creative ways. His example continues to inspire me. As for my parents—they started all of this. They have both tirelessly served their communities throughout their lives as public educators. They have such firey passion and patient resolve when it comes to the possibilities of school and education. It is contagious. Most importantly, they have both held space for my brother and me to grow and learn—and still do—not only so we may become fulfilled individually, but ← xiv | xv → so we can help others through the service of teaching, find fulfillment, and sense of purpose.

Finally, to every last one of my teachers, and to every single student whose path I have had the pleasure of crossing, it is for your witness I will be forever grateful. ← xv | xvi →

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Compassion Comes From Comfort


XXXIV, 162
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2018 (August)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2018. XXXIV, 162 pp., 15 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Jim Senti (Author)

Jim Senti earned his MFA from the Moscow Art Theatre School in affiliation with Harvard University and the American Repertory Theater. He is currently a lecturer of performance in the Department of Communication Studies at California State University, Northridge. He is a professional actor and theater maker.


Title: Teaching Teachers With Theater!
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197 pages