Janine Oxley works at a special needs school using therapeutic drama with young people on a one-to-one basis. She talks about the methods she uses and how they might be used online. She relates what she is doing now to her previous wide experience as a drama teacher in a secondary school.
I interviewed Janine on Tuesday 21st April 2020 (watch 25-minute video below).
In Janine’s work, drama is used to help students improve socialisation skills and to explore strategies to deal with such issues as self-confidence and anxiety. Drama helps students to make choices, to feel in control. She often uses role play to explore social situations as well as to enact and narrate stories in the imaginary realm. She tends to use traditional stories, especially fairy tales such as The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Little Red Riding Hood. She and the students use the familiar structures as a basis for retelling.
She talks about how she works with different students. She uses a range of drama strategies, acts out the story, plays teacher in role. She works in a free-flowing way, finding alternative endings or adding characters – for example a stepfather in the Three Little Pigs, which students may see as a conscious or unconscious way to explore family relationships. She and the student will come in and out of role to talk about what is coming up in the story.
One of her students sets the agenda in terms of the issues she wants to deal with, then they enact that scenario and try out different outcomes. Another student likes using masks which they paint different colours to show different feelings or characters.
We discuss the possibilities and limitations of using Zoom, regarding body language and also safeguarding. Working online with vulnerable students can be problematical as personal issues may be raised during the session, but there is not an opportunity to discuss these with students afterwards as there might be within the school environment.