Are the fine arts really fine? A descriptive case study on the experiences of theatre arts teachers.
All first-year teachers, whether alternatively or traditionally certified, face a wide range of issues when they enter the profession. Teachers require specialized skills to teach the subject, manage the classroom, and track individual student progress using a defined set of grading procedures. Theatre arts teachers encounter even more challenges due to the live performance nature of the class. Some major issues are the lack of a written curriculum, lack of administrative knowledge and support, management of student and parent expectations for a non-traditional class and, at times, overseeing all aspects of producing a live performance within the time allocated and within the limited budget available. Therefore, it is important to understand how the current theatre teachers have addressed these issues and build on their recent experiences to develop a plan to assist future teachers. This descriptive case study sought to answer the following research question: What are the experiences of theatre arts teachers in meeting the demands of the job in their first five years of teaching? The researcher explored the experiences and feelings of theatre arts teachers in the state of Texas, with two to five years teaching experience, regarding the distinctive demands of the position when they entered the field. The researcher collected data using multiple techniques, including questionnaires, recorded individual interviews, and photographs. This descriptive case study examined and compared the personal struggles and challenges as well as the highlights of theatre arts professionals with two to five years of educational experience. The narrative from this study identified five emerging themes from the collected data: the need for content-specific professional development; identified an educational theatre pedagogical gap and lack of established curriculum; unclear expectations of the theatre teacher position; an overall lack of support from campus and district administration; and the presence of “imposter syndrome”. These five themes informed change recommendations for both teacher preparation programs and school administrators.