05 May Staging the Lesson – Thrust Presentation
The Thrust presentation in the theater is one which marks a more modern interpretation of dramatic presentation of productions. One of the more difficult challenges that performers, as well as teachers, face are maintaining active audience engagement throughout the entirety of the production. Along with this dealing effectively with any disruption, or hecklers, that may arise during the staging of the drama. One of the more practical means of achieving this is by physically altering the shape of the stage.
In this production of a dramatic work, the stage is something of a “T” shape. Added to the traditional proscenium is an additional portion of the stage jutting out into the actual audience. This particular additional portion of the stage literally “thrusts” out into the audience dividing them into somewhat equal portions. Looking at a thrust stage could remind an individual of a cat walk stage used in fashion shows.
Similarly, looking at the methods many classroom teachers use, the majority of us will pivot into the students from the front of the classroom bringing the lesson to them in a certain sense. Technology has made this presentation and lesson delivery much easier. However, it is also a two-edged sword in this setting as well. When it comes to technology, the classroom is no exception…technology is merely a tool.
But, this particular presentation of a lesson in the classroom can be both beneficial and limiting at the same time. A remote “clicker” in hand combined with a laser pointer frees the teacher from being anchored to the computer at the front of the room during direct teach episodes in the classroom. Yet, there are too many times that this has become the destination rather than a way station on the instructional journey.
With this particular presentation, some classroom teachers have leaned unnecessarily upon technology in order to overlook audience interaction. While the thrust presentation in the classroom does afford the teacher with the opportunity to literally thrust into the student area, it is still limited. As mentioned earlier, the Thrust Presentation generally forms a “T” shape stage or teaching arena for the teacher to present the material in.
While this opened new possibilities for the actors and audiences in the theater realm, it seemingly has an opposite effect in the classroom to some extent. For the classroom teachers which have a history of staying put giving instruction from only one, or a few, locations at the front of the classroom, this presentation is beneficial. However, it should not be a destination, but rather a mile marker on the journey towards a flipped classroom.
On the other hand, for the teachers which have a solid history of regular movement around the classroom, the Thrust Presentation will not be beneficial for the most part. For these teachers, this particular presentation is more of a starting point to begin experimentation and modification. It is a form that variations can be added to regularly, in fact, with the changing of each class similar to an improvisation exercise.
Regardless, the primary objective of the Thrust Presentation in the classroom is to increase student engagement and interest. By moving the teaching into the midst of the students rather than sequestering it to only in front of them, the students at least feel they are in the middle of the action. Doing this begins to move learning from a passive to an active experience for the students. As such, transferring the direction from the teacher to the students begins to take place as well. This is one of the key objectives to cultivating lifelong learners which is the ultimate goals of any educational endeavor, regardless of grade level or content area.