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PHD - Doctor of Philosophy




For educators entering a fine arts classroom for the first time the transition can be quite difficult. Fine arts teachers are often the only specialists in their subject area at a school, placing them in a new situation without a mentor to guide them through the process. The difficulties can be exacerbated by the ideological, financial, and social marginalization of the arts in many schools. Despite the challenges faced by new fine arts educators, little research has focused specifically on their transitions into K-12 classrooms. To explore these transitional experiences this study was guided by the research question: How do K-12 theatre educators interpret their early-career teaching experiences through artistic inquiry? The study utilized Metaphor-Scenario (MetaScen), an arts-based qualitative methodology developed by the researcher, to gather and analyze data from the participants, seven American theatre teachers from K-12 schools. MetaScen allowed participants to reflect on their early career teaching experiences, represent them with a metaphor, and finally adapt the metaphor into a short performance piece. Data collection was then completed with semi-structured interviews of the participants. A multiple cycle coding method was utilized both to analyze data as it specifically referred to the question of teachers’ transitions to the K-12 theatre classroom as well as to explore the efficacy of MetaScen as part of the ongoing work to refine and improve its methodology. The study found that new theatre teachers felt a strong sense of isolation while undergoing a first year marked by extreme emotional swings. The teachers felt a close connection with their students but often lacked the support they needed to succeed and experienced challenges when their programs intersected with other facets of the school. These findings were linked by the primary discovery that new theatre teachers need to be strong advocates for theatre in order to successfully navigate the transition process. Recommendations were made to theatre education stakeholders for preparing new theatre educators both for the specific challenges of teaching as well as becoming strong advocates for theatre. Possible future directions and improvements for the MetaScen research methodology were also suggested.



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