Using Applied Theatre
       to Change School Culture:
An Impact Evaluation of ETFO’s Poverty and
      Education Project ...
Danny, King of the Basement
      by David Craig
The Ontario Context
   One in six children - approximately 478, 480 - live in poverty.
   132,000 children rely on a foo...
ETFO Poverty and Education Project
ETFO’s Goal:
   Help elementary schools understand and cope with child and
    family ...
Research Goals: Year 1 & 2
   Year 1:
       To understand agency within constraint
       To examine the role played b...
* Film Intermission *
Discovering Danny: Challenging
Assumptions, Seeing Context

 “…the other day [a student] said something about
 moving. ‘Oh...
Method for Impact Assessment
   Year 1: Mixed Methods Design (n = 8)
       Phase A: 3 pre-play focus groups with teache...
School-Based Initiatives Year 1 & 2:
   Initiatives Aimed to Address:
    1.   Physical Needs: Kitchens, laundry rooms, c...
School-Based Initiatives Year 1 & 2:
 “And that’s a big part of what we want to do
 this year is the whole student engagem...
Applied Theatre: Changing
School Culture

“There is now a greater amount of patience for
the students on the part of some ...
Survey: Impact of Drama
              Question                  SA   SWA   U   SWD   SD
The play was a high quality artist...
Survey: Impact of Drama
              Question                  SA   SWA   U    SWD   SD
I believe these types of projects...
Survey: Impact of Drama
Survey: Impact of Drama
Survey: Effectiveness of Applied Theatre
              Question                    SA   SWA   U   SWD   SD
I believe that ...
Aesthetic Engagement
   Responses describing the intrinsic value of
    seeing drama or appreciation of the art form
   ...
Catharsis and Empathy
   Emotional response or change in thinking towards
    issues of poverty that resulted from watchi...
Dialogue
   Frequency of conversations or depth of the
    discussions that followed the drama
   "It knocked down those...
Changes In Social Relations
   New relationships that emerged within the school-
    community as a result of the perform...
Learning From The Drama
   Staff and students learned more about issues of poverty
    directly from the drama
   "It br...
Pedagogical Tool
   Incorporating themes or ideas found within the
    drama into the curriculum or teaching practices
 ...
Other research themes
   Principals’ Awareness
   Teachers’ Awareness
   Teachers’ Practice
   Collaboration
   Engag...
The Sustainability of Applied
Theatre

 “…we’re not going outside to find something all the
 time. It’s Diana, it’s Fiona,...
Sustainability: Where did the
    Drama Go?
   For these three schools, the focus of the Danny play
    disappeared as th...
Sustainability: Embedding
    Initiatives In Curriculum
   Incorporating initiatives into the curriculum led to greater
 ...
Sustainability: Developing
    Partnerships
   Partnerships with community organizations sustained the
    initiatives be...
Sustainability: Raising
    Consciousness
   Raising staff consciousness about issues of poverty impacted their
    teach...
Conclusions
   Applied theatre proved effective to initiate
    dialogue and transform social relations.
   Flexibility ...
Effective practices
   Enough pre-play preparation time
   All-school involvement
   Horizontal partnerships
   Distri...
In Summary




   Performance is about ‘going into another world and
    coming back with gifts’
Tim Etchells, British th...
Questions?




     Danny School, Oshawa
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Kathleen Gallagher

  1. 1. Using Applied Theatre to Change School Culture: An Impact Evaluation of ETFO’s Poverty and Education Project 2007-2009 Professor Kathleen Gallagher OISE - University of Toronto Luisa Sotomayor, Research Officer Centre for Urban Schooling Ivan Service, Graduate Assistant OISE - University of Toronto
  2. 2. Danny, King of the Basement by David Craig
  3. 3. The Ontario Context  One in six children - approximately 478, 480 - live in poverty.  132,000 children rely on a food bank each month.  Two in every five children living in low-income families have a parent working full-time, year round.  Women and youth account for 83% of Canada’s minimum wage workers.  The majority- 54.6%- of children living in low-income, single- parent families live with their mother.  47% of children in new immigrant families and 32% of children in racialized families are considered poor, an increase of 60% over the last 20 years.  70% of Ontario’s Aboriginal population lives off-reserve. One- third of off-reserve Aboriginal children live in poverty.
  4. 4. ETFO Poverty and Education Project ETFO’s Goal:  Help elementary schools understand and cope with child and family poverty. Each school received: Performance of the play Afternoon workshops with the actors Class scripts for school ETFO’s community resource poster DVD: “One in Six” Professional development Actors facilitating a workshop with $10,000 in funding students (Fall 2007) 20 release days
  5. 5. Research Goals: Year 1 & 2  Year 1:  To understand agency within constraint  To examine the role played by theatre to affect change in relationships, initiate dialogue, and deepen understanding of social issues To understand sustainability of the project for schools different levels of funding, support, and length of involvement  Year 2:  To understand sustainability of the project for schools with different levels of funding, support, and length of involvement (Research funded by ETFO)
  6. 6. * Film Intermission *
  7. 7. Discovering Danny: Challenging Assumptions, Seeing Context “…the other day [a student] said something about moving. ‘Oh that’s like my mom, she doesn’t like to stay in one place. We just usually stay there for a month at a time…’ We went on a bus trip and so we had gone by one of his old houses. And he was referring to some of the different places that he’s lived and he said, ‘My mom doesn’t like to stay any longer than a month at a place.’ So I thought, that’s Danny, really.”
  8. 8. Method for Impact Assessment  Year 1: Mixed Methods Design (n = 8)  Phase A: 3 pre-play focus groups with teachers  Phase B: Online survey  Phase C: 8 focus groups and 8 interviews followed by coding and analysis  Year 2: Case Study Approach (n = 3)  Phase A: 3 focus groups with all schools  Phase B: 2 focus groups with 2 supported schools followed by coding and analysis
  9. 9. School-Based Initiatives Year 1 & 2:  Initiatives Aimed to Address: 1. Physical Needs: Kitchens, laundry rooms, clothing, nutritional and hygiene programs. 2. Intrinsic Needs: Counselor. 3. Pedagogical: Focus on character Ed, literacy resources, media, arts programs, Danny themes embedded in curriculum, trips. 4. Social/Cultural: Parent and community outreach, visits to the museum, performances. 5. Mix of Various Strategies
  10. 10. School-Based Initiatives Year 1 & 2: “And that’s a big part of what we want to do this year is the whole student engagement piece and getting them involved in things that they may not have a chance to at home because our kids don’t have the money to join sports teams and go to dance classes and things like that.”
  11. 11. Applied Theatre: Changing School Culture “There is now a greater amount of patience for the students on the part of some teachers as a result of the play...The sentiment was that the play inspired one to remember why one wanted to teach in first place, something that can get lost in the daily grind of school life.”
  12. 12. Survey: Impact of Drama Question SA SWA U SWD SD The play was a high quality artistic 74 9 0 0 0 experience. The production was engaging for my 75 8 0 0 0 students. The topics addressed in the play 0 4 2 16 64 were too sensitive for a discussion. The messages of the play are 69 12 1 1 0 consistent with what we want to transmit to our students. My students were able to translate 25 45 8 4 1 the issues that Danny and his friends were facing into their own context.
  13. 13. Survey: Impact of Drama Question SA SWA U SWD SD I believe these types of projects can 62 16 4 1 0 enhance the curriculum. The play made me reflect about my 51 27 1 4 0 own teaching practice and working in a high-needs community. We have very few opportunities and 14 46 6 14 3 resources in our school to address poverty on our own. I don’t see how the school can move 2 16 16 20 29 forward to address issues of poverty that are too complex for teachers to solve – like single parenting and homelessness.
  14. 14. Survey: Impact of Drama
  15. 15. Survey: Impact of Drama
  16. 16. Survey: Effectiveness of Applied Theatre Question SA SWA U SWD SD I believe that theatre is an effective 65 18 0 0 0 way to raise awareness of our students needs among staff. I believe that theatre an effective way 73 9 1 0 0 to communicate with our students and engage them in discussions about social justice. Theatre-based PDs are an engaging 72 10 1 0 0 and informative way to learn about social issues. I would like ETFO to bring us more 73 8 1 0 1 theatre-based PDs in the future.
  17. 17. Aesthetic Engagement  Responses describing the intrinsic value of seeing drama or appreciation of the art form  “The play and drama workshops were wonderful, and they have inspired both our staff and students to feel empowered to overcome obstacles associated with poverty.”  “Really listening, really thinking about it. I know it's had an impact well-beyond that week. We're still hearing things about it. Talking to other teachers too, um, I know that in Mr. Adam’s room upstairs he has kids that are making text connections to it, and still talking about it. So it's really carrying on, and affecting all the kids in the school.”
  18. 18. Catharsis and Empathy  Emotional response or change in thinking towards issues of poverty that resulted from watching the drama  "Well, particularly a scene where Danny is being revived after he has been exposed to the elements and the kids in three groups that made the comment…about the fact that it was fairly awful how he found himself in that situation and how terrible it would be to be put into the situation where you felt you had no options but to run away and be left at the mercy of mother nature and not feel that there was any place to turn to. So the kids talked about options and things within the community that were available to people that need."
  19. 19. Dialogue  Frequency of conversations or depth of the discussions that followed the drama  "It knocked down those walls that you didn’t realize were there, but it was just something that you never really talked about, but it opened the doorway for communication to start.”  “…before the play came to the school we were asked to discuss poverty…and I found my students didn’t really understand the word poverty…but it was after the play came to the school that the conversation became really interesting…I had kids who were twelve years old understanding the parents perspective, understanding the parents motivations, understanding the parents challenges, which I didn’t think they were capable of doing.”
  20. 20. Changes In Social Relations  New relationships that emerged within the school- community as a result of the performance  "After seeing ‘Danny King of The Basement’ and the readings…it really opened the doors to free communication.”  "In my classroom, I have a lot of students that act out because they're hungry, and that, they haven't had proper nutrition, and I have this one student in particular that, um, it's really severe. And this year, because of the inclusive environment that we've created, and through talking about poverty, he will no longer shut that off, he will say out loud, put his hand up, and when we're on the carpet and say, “You know Miss Betty I'm really hungry, can I have a banana…That's something that they feel like they can discuss not only one on one but they feel like they can discuss it with their peers, so, it's pretty good."
  21. 21. Learning From The Drama  Staff and students learned more about issues of poverty directly from the drama  "It brought personal beliefs and experiences to the forefront through character experiences and situations. This play was excellent and helped me get in touch with what some of our students are likely feeling, and why they are reacting the way they do."  "For us, it’s broadened our definition because we often think of poverty we only think in terms of physical needs but garbled… you see there are some kids that are emotionally poor that are well provided for but…the comments that they make, you know give the impression that they are emotionally poor. They are missing something else from their life that isn’t necessarily connected to a monetary value."
  22. 22. Pedagogical Tool  Incorporating themes or ideas found within the drama into the curriculum or teaching practices  "And I was impressed with how fast they picked up drama as a means of communication. They respected the form of communication…it moved us ahead in conversation to a deeper depth, discussing everything in language arts…So I felt that it had spin offs that were valuable in the curriculum content as well.”  "Where as instead of saying someone, you know, it might be like first they can relate, well, Danny in the play he was poor, like, monetarily, but, you know, he was rich in his imagination and stuff like that. So, they can talk about, you know, the characteristics of different types of poverty of stage characters. Where as normally if you were talking without seeing a play or something, it’d be like they couldn’t bring that realization of seeing someone like that."
  23. 23. Other research themes  Principals’ Awareness  Teachers’ Awareness  Teachers’ Practice  Collaboration  Engagement  Students  Leadership  Impact on students  School environment  School Culture  Project Operations Danny’s Tree of Hope, Oshawa
  24. 24. The Sustainability of Applied Theatre “…we’re not going outside to find something all the time. It’s Diana, it’s Fiona, it’s Tammy. We’re looking at ourselves and what can we do and we teach one another…We’re going to teach one another how to do it on a daily basis in a classroom. So I see that as sustainable instead of being a one-time fun, oh this is great, let’s do this. No, it’s something we help one another with and then you know we have more confidence to do it on our own…”
  25. 25. Sustainability: Where did the Drama Go?  For these three schools, the focus of the Danny play disappeared as the project progressed  “Last year the focus for us was really on Character Education…we have veered off in a different direction while keeping going what we did last year.”  “Well they only know about swimming, but we haven’t really tied it to the Danny project or Danny play or project with the kids.”
  26. 26. Sustainability: Embedding Initiatives In Curriculum  Incorporating initiatives into the curriculum led to greater sustainability of the lessons and insights  “We definitely considered it from the beginning and especially last year embedding it in the curriculum was the best way we could think of continuing it. And you can see that it’s still happening. A lot of the lessons that were written have been passed on and people are using or just remembering what happened last year.”
  27. 27. Sustainability: Developing Partnerships  Partnerships with community organizations sustained the initiatives because of increased resources, support, and energy  “That is a big part of it. That was the sort of more of the focus of our presentation to all the community people that day was we want this to continue. How can you help us make this continue? What can you do for us? And where can the volunteers tap in? So who has volunteers or who knows where we can get some? So between some service groups and the church group and things like that, that was one focus of the people we invited and the other part was who has the most money to give us each year?”
  28. 28. Sustainability: Raising Consciousness  Raising staff consciousness about issues of poverty impacted their teaching practices and school programs well into the future, with or without continued support from ETFO  “I’m an awful lot more sensitive, I think most teachers are to where our kids are coming from and it affects their work in school and so on. And I just have a class full of needy kids this year. And I probably always have had a class of needy kids, I just didn’t really pay much attention to the need. Or not enough attention.”  “Well I’m much more attentive to parents and to kids. I’m listening a lot more than I used to. So you know the teacher-learner relationships are just a whole lot better. So make time for that to happen and good things happen.”
  29. 29. Conclusions  Applied theatre proved effective to initiate dialogue and transform social relations.  Flexibility was key to programme success.  Workshops, grants, release days, embedding in curriculum, and raising consciousness kept the themes of the play alive.
  30. 30. Effective practices  Enough pre-play preparation time  All-school involvement  Horizontal partnerships  Distributed Leadership  Sound use of resources  Regular meeting times  Team work  Embedding in curriculum  Raising consciousness
  31. 31. In Summary  Performance is about ‘going into another world and coming back with gifts’ Tim Etchells, British theatre director.
  32. 32. Questions? Danny School, Oshawa

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