Increase Empathy & Emotional Intelligence by Putting On a Class Play
by Learning Specialist Lori Motal, Speech-Language Pathologist Rachel Gerke and Fine Arts Teacher Jeannie Do
There are a lot of reasons why students with learning differences, and all students, benefit from putting on a play.
It allows them to:
- practice their fluency and improve their reading skills
- learn about teamwork
- experience accountability
In addition, students have the chance to grow their emotional intelligence and capacity for empathy.
The tangible tasks kids tackle in the time leading up to a play include learning their lines, helping decorate costumes and creating and distributing invitations. On top of that, putting on a play allows students the opportunity to exercise softer skills as they work together toward a common goal. The students learn how to be flexible with one another, understand that when we all work together we can accomplish big goals. They work hard on learning empathy and other emotions by becoming their assigned characters.
Things to Consider
As a teacher, particularly if you're working with kids who have learning differences, be prepared to encourage students to stay on-task and focus on the work at hand. Remind them to listen to others' ideas and opinions. They also may need help understanding that, because this is a group project, some individual ideas might not work.
Casting Your Play
When casting, take into account which kids are more capable of memorizing lines and which kids are better at reading aloud as the narrator. During our auditions, we took into account which students were able to appropriately depict the character's emotions and which students have good stage presence. We spent a lot of time rehearsing and discussing what the characters were feeling to help the kids understand what that would look like when it's acted out.
Letting Students Take Ownership
It was surprising how much our students enjoyed putting on a play. They were very vocal in their ideas on how and what a play should look like. We're glad they wanted to take some ownership of the project. They were pumped!
We're impressed with the kids being able to memorize lines, work hard and to put on a play that was successful. In addition, their ability to be flexible and understand that every role was important, no matter how big or small, was beautiful to see.
Watch the two minute play below!