Drama For Schools

Drama for Schools is a K-12 professional learning model for arts rich schools which creates long-term partnerships between The University of Texas at Austin, schools and communities. Facilitated by faculty and students from the Department of Theatre and Dance, DFS offers consulting and training in research-based approaches to arts education, arts-based pedagogy, and professional learning design to improve the learning culture of all classrooms.

Drama for Schools was developed in Texas schools as a response to arts education cuts and transmission-focused teaching approaches during the early No Child Left Behind era. Since that time, DFS has expanded its reach and research. From our hometown of Austin, to Texas's Rio Grande Valley, to a remote village in Alaska, to locations across Australia and Croatia, DFS works to improve learning for all young people in and through the arts.

In the Drama for Schools model, university researchers and teaching artists collaborate with educators, families, community leaders, and local artists to explore the impact of the arts on learning across a school and/or school system. DFS facilitates ongoing trainings for stakeholders. We co-develop a targeted research approach based on identified needs of partnering school districts and communities to track outcomes; and, we work to develop long-term capacity in schools to sustain improvements and change. Our multifaceted training approach includes (a) hands-on training designed to meet the unique context needs of students and the school location; (b) in-classroom coaching from a local or university teaching artist, including lesson plan development, implementation, and revision; and (c) distance learning support and resources from our open-source website which features 120 DBP strategies, 150 lessons, and 14 instructional videos  (https://dbp.theatredance.utexas.edu/).

Currently, DFS is a founding partner of the Creative Learning Initiative, a 10-year collective impact model in Austin’s public schools. Internationally DFS provides ongoing thought leadership on a 5-year strategic plan in creative body-based learning for disadvantaged schools across South Australia. DFS has received funding from private foundations; school districts; university grants; the US Department of Education and US State Department; as well as, international universities and the education and cultural arts sector, in countries around the world.

As an initiative of the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Texas in Austin, Drama For Schools is part of a long and distinguished history of the University’s commitment to public schools. In addition to preparing many of the state’s theatre arts teachers, the Department regularly partners with public schools throughout the state of Texas to examine how the arts can help motivate the process of learning. Through on-going dialogues with our K-12 collaborators, we strive to create exciting professional development workshops for educators. Working with communities to shape our training curriculum to meet their specific needs, in an effort to support the educational missions of both the University and our school partners.

For more information about how to become a part of Drama for Schools, contact Katie Dawson at kathryndawson@mail.utexas.edu. You can also click here to begin the process of acquiring login information on this site.