25 Mar Why student retention matters to us
During a child’s first year at Speak Up, it is clear to us as teachers how much they progress in speaking skills and confidence. But the real magic happens once they’ve mastered the basics of Speech and Drama and move up through our carefully designed syllabus.
Student retention matters to us for an important reason, so they can experience and benefit from all Speech and Drama has to offer. Often kids will begin in our Drama Club program and then move into more technical Speech and Drama classes. From there we love seeing kids truly grow as they move through our programs.
Drama Club – fun short classes with performances in class
Speak Up – longer classes with special performances
Philosophers – smaller groups, more special performances
Dreamers – shows, shows and more shows!
Junior Teachers – when kids have been with us so long that they are ready to run classes themselves
At Speak Up you will find a place where your child can grow up, and a community to love them for exactly who they are. We consider it a privilege to be one of those happy childhood memories. And when those kids become Dreamers, well let’s just say they are the coolest cats we’ve ever met.
The beautiful things that retention can achieve
Are you a long term Speak Up family? Have you noticed the beautiful things that come from being a part of our community for a long time:
- Meaningful relationships with teachers
- Incredible progress in terms of performance skills
- Beautiful friendships with like-minded kiddos
- A community that cares for your child and knows when they’re thriving/not ok
- A community that is there to work through the tough times, the tricky behaviours and is proud of their growth and progress
- Stories from past productions, shows and events
- Photographs and videos of their various performances (how far they’ve come!)
Being a part of an activity for the long term has many incredible benefits.
The longer kids are a part of Speak Up, the more we can challenge them as performers and be there for them as humans.
A few ways we ensure kids stay with us long enough to see real progress is to make sure they are given new challenges when they are ready (and often before they realise they’re ready!)
Here are some examples of how we plan progress as students move through the Speak Up program levels:
Developing Performance Skills – Creating Character
🌼 Explorers – Performs with energy and enthusiasm
🍎 Storytellers – Adjusts body and voice to create simple characters
🚙 Inventors – Adjusts body and voice to create nuanced characters
☂️ Philosophers – Creates believable, imaginative and engaging characters
🌈 Dreamers – Expertly crafts believable, imaginative and engaging characters
Growing Creativity – The Future
🌼 Explorers – Talks about their future with positivity
🍎 Storytellers – Talks about their future with thoughtfulness
🚙 Inventors – Dreams about their future with imagination and self belief
☂️ Philosophers – Approaches the world with curiosity and imagination
🌈 Dreamers – Feels empowered to impact the world around them
Can you tell we’ve *really* thought about this? All of our lesson plans link back to these aims, and our teachers have different goals depending on the age group they’re working with. Just one of the ways we’ve made Speak Up a place to stay.
Another way we hold onto students for a long time is to make it personal. We know when Mum gets a new job, we know your dog’s name, we know your family is going through a renovation that just won’t end and how hard it is to find matching socks, let alone your drama folder. Our teachers take the time to learn about these things because of the enormous impact that life has on our learning. How can you possibly concentrate on drama when you are being relentlessly bullied at school? How many assignments do you have due next week? Seriously? By making sure we take the time to get to know our kids, their families and their personal struggles, we can adjust our expectations of them in the drama classroom, and provide them with genuine support.
A close relationship with a Speech and Drama teacher is like a secret weapon. We are on your child’s side. We often teach our kids for years and years and we really get to know them, (and sometimes they listen to us more than they’ll listen to their parents!). True story. We’re here to help them develop communication and performance skills, but we’re also here to guide, support them as they learn and grow. It’s a special relationship and it’s a privilege to be part of their lives.
I was even lucky enough to have some special students join me at my wedding last year. All kids who I have taught for years, and parents who I admire for their love, care and compassion.
One of our main “business” goals at Speak Up is 90% student retention from term to term. This measure (which we hit regularly by the way) not only shows us how happy our customers are, and how at home are students feel, it’s also critical to our mission as a performing arts studio: to be a safe place for children to perform throughout their childhood.