We were commissioned by Isebrook School to work with a small group of students whose behaviour sometimes presented significant challenges for staff teams. This three-day project included a half-day planning session to meet students and staff, and two full days of contact time with the students. Each of the contact days included a staff briefing in the morning before the students arrived and a feedback session at the end of the day when the students had left.
When we met with staff they were keen to focus on several aims for the contact sessions with students:
If the project were to be successful all of these aims would have been met.
We decided to use Macbeth as a starting point and create a setting for the first scene of the play. The Bamboozle team included a technician as one of the students was particularly interested working on lighting and sound. We worked in the school’s drama studio and brought along a range of resources to make a setting as well props and costumes. Over two days we built a set, added lighting and sound effects, placed props and even got into to costume and performed part of the first scene of the play to an audience invited by the students.
All indicators for success were met in the two-day programme.
It was difficult, at first, for staff to take a back seat and observe what was going on because they were very tuned in to their students’ behaviour and aware of what might happen – they were obviously keen to avoid any problems. Staff were quite surprised at the extent to which the students were engaged on the first morning and when we looked at the list of indicators for success all of the criteria had been met. The students’ behaviour had been exemplary while in the studio. The students, when asked for their feedback on the first day, were all positive about the experience. At the end of the first day staff were surprised by how engaged the students had been and what they had done.
Staff appeared to be more at ease with observing what was going on during the second day. They held back from encouraging students to participate, from praising them and gave less attention to students who sought it by leaving the room. By the end of the second day the strategies that Bamboozle had been using were more apparent to the staff.
At the end of day two staff were again impressed with the students’ engagement in the day’s work. It resulted in a mini-performance of the scenes that had been worked on to an invited audience who also seemed impressed with and surprised by what they saw.