As an acting teacher I want to help my students to grow, to encourage them to find their unique voice and to give them the skills they will need to succeed. At the end of Acting For Singers I have written an appendix for teachers that begins with these thoughts:
Of the many ingredients in the learning stew, an ample and vigorous stock of trust promotes the most growth. However, trust is not so easy to engender. I have found that a key component is to establish that the “rules” in an acting class or workshop are special–different from the rest of the participants’ day.
• We are not in competition; there is room for everyone. We all work together, so that everyone can grow and be his/her best.
• We share what happens within the class or workshop and maintain complete confidentiality outside of it.
• We agree that classes and workshops are times to experiment; they are opportunities to risk going “too far”–although we also understand that “too far” only applies to passionate interpretive commitment and not to any form of physical violence.
• We accept that in classes and workshops we do not always achieve our goals, and that this is part of the learning process.
• When we fall short of our goals, we do not make punishing criticisms of ourselves or others, but value our attempts to stretch as a part of our growth.
In addition, I feel that we can help develop trust within a group by the behavior we model. Therefore, I do my best to be honest about my own feelings and to be trusting and constructive in my criticisms. I try to be supportive by assuming that each person is doing the best s/he can at that particular moment and by making my suggestions specific. I focus on what is useful and avoid using “good” and “bad,” since they can easily be heard as personal judgments. Instead I use words like “clear” or “confusing,” “powerful” or “ineffective,” “engaging” or “uncommitted,” “vivid” or “fuzzy,” “compelling” or “lacking energy,” “believable” or “disengaged.”