Dr. Gregory Justice-The Art of Teaching Using Acting Techniques
“The Art of Teaching: Using Acting Techniques in Improving Teaching”
Friday, November 9, 2007
Center for Innovative Technology
Presenter: Dr. Gregory Justice, Associate Professor, Theatre Arts
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA
Center for Innovative Technology
2214 Rock Hill Road
This workshop looks at some of the techniques used by professional theatre, film and television performers that can be used to enhance communication effectiveness with faculty, staff and students. Whether you are trying to reach an audience of one or 100, these techniques will enhance both your speaking and performance abilities. Topics examined include: nerves, using the body in a more dynamic way, developing a better voice, and improving your creativity through imagination, concentration, observation and relaxation. The workshop is participatory, fun and probably quite different from any other workshop you have taken on teaching skills. Gregory Justice is a professional actor and an acting professor at Virginia Tech. He has been presenting workshops on using acting techniques to improve teaching for over 20 years. He is one of 2 experts in the field in the United States.
About the Presenter
Gregory Justice has been offering workshops on THE ART OF TEACHING: USING ACTING TECHNIQUES IN THE TEACHING/LEARNING PROCESS and THE ART OF BUSINESS: USING ACTING TECHNIQUES IN TRAINING, SALES AND CORPORATE COMMUNICATION for over 20 years.
Justice is a professional actor, director, and award-winning teacher of theatre arts. He has provided workshops for thousands of university, high school and middle school teachers. Institutions include Northern Illinois, Duke, Radford, Carilion Corporate University, and over 50 academic departments, centers and programs at Virginia Tech.
He has worked numerous times with The Virginia Community College System and led workshops for several Virginia community colleges, including, Thomas Nelson, New River, Paul D. Camp, Wytheville and Eastern Shore.
Justice has conducted educational presentations for the National Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association, the Virginia Association of Colleges and Employers, Certified Medical Representatives Institute, The Health Occupation Educators of Virginia, the Lilly South Conference on Education, and the Entomological Society of Virginia, just to name a few.
Some of his corporate and business participants include Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Allstate Insurance Company, Roche Diagnostics, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Witt Mares Certified Public Accountants, The American Registry for Internet Numbers, The Virginia Fire and Life Saving Coalition and the Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers.
Justice is an associate professor of Theatre Arts at Virginia Tech. He has been an employee of the University since 1983. He teaches courses in Acting, Directing, Theatre Movement and Audition Technique. Greg has directed over 40 productions and has appeared in over 100 theatrical
productions and numerous television and radio commercials.
Greg has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Utah and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Pennsylvania State University. He has received numerous major teaching awards, including the Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Diggs Teaching Scholar Award for innovative teaching. He is also a member of the Academy of Teaching Excellence at Virginia Tech and is an honorary inductee in the National Golden Key Honor Society.
Justice is cited in Who's Who in the South, Who's Who in Entertainment, and Who's Who in Education.
Testimonials from Workshop Participants
· We would like to thank you for the workshop. Even though we did the planning, it wouldn't have
been possible without you. It's nice how an email solicitation can turn into such a successful
event. I've read the reviews, and let me tell you, the participants RAVED and want you to come back.
(J. Giesen, Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, University of Northern Illinois)
Thanks again for taking time to lead this event here at Duke. I've already received emails asking
when you're able to come back since we had a 'waiting list'?! Unfortunately, some people didn't
show -- even after email reminders...and it left other people out. In any event, please know that
I'd like to schedule you for the same event in Fall 2007 -- we'll attract other of our 2,300 PhD
students. (D. James, Director Academic Support Programs, Duke University)
Our advisory board is made up of representatives of more than 40 different pharmaceutical
companies and composed of trainers, directors, and executives. They expect a high quality, well prepared
presentation that has been designed to meet their needs. I have hired many speakers over the last few years
and Mr. Justice by far exceeded other presenters in his evaluations.
(M.O’Conner, Vice President, Learning and Curriculum solutions, CMR Institute)
It was a pleasure meeting you and experiencing your presentation Friday. The feedback I
received from the audience was outstanding and I hope it supports your efforts to reach people
and organizations with your expertise in presentation skills. You turned our numbers up for this
one, so that is a real tangible measure.
(R. Hollandsworth, Business Assistance Center, Radford University)
I was in the audience last Monday when you spoke at Thomas Nelson Community College. You
have some great tips on how to improve performance in the classroom. I suggested that you write
a book on the subject. I promise that if you ever do, I will be first in line to buy one.”
(D. Paradiso, Thomas Nelson Community College)
As I was walking in this morning, a teacher who has been here for 30+ years stopped me and
told me how much she enjoyed your presentation last night. She also saw you last fall, but she
said she would love to hear you again because she can never see herself tired of listening to what
you have to say about teaching. (S. Moye, Radford University)
You were outstanding at the University Development/Alumni/Relations retreat—I have heard so
many positive responses about the quality of your presentation—from the thoroughness of the
topic to the fun and informative way you presented it. You’ve now got quite a fan club here.
(K. Johnson, Virginia Tech Development Director)
I have absolutely no doubt that every single member of the audience, myself included, benefited
greatly from your presentation. I enjoyed looking around the room and seeing literally every
participant keenly focused on your captivating presentation and being fully engaged mentally and
physically in the activities you had them perform. I don’t recall ever seeing as many “ah ha”
expressions in their eyes.
(J. Knight, Department of Animal and Poultry Science, Virginia Tech)
Further Sources for Reading
Books on Acting That Can Apply to Teaching
AN ACTOR PREPARES by Constantin Stanislavski
BUILDING A CHARACTER by Constantin Stanislavski
CREATING A ROLE by Constantin Stanislavski
ACTNG: THE SIX LESSONS by Richard Boleslavsky
RESPECT FOR ACTING by Uta Hagen
Books on the Delsarte Acting Style
EVERY LITTLE MOVEMENT by Ted Shawn
Books on Vocal Technique from Theatre Voice Professionals
FREEING THE NATURAL VOICE by Kristen Linklater
THE USE AND TRAINING OF THE HUMAN VOICE: A BIO-DYNAMIC APPROACH TO VOCAL LIFE by Arthur Lessac
BODY WISDOM by Arthur Lessac
Books on Body Language and Non-Verbal Communication
BODY LANGUAGE by Julius Fast
THE BODY LANGUATE OF SEX, POWER AND AGGRESSION: HOW TO RECOGNIZE IT AND HOW TO USE IT
READING PEOPLE by Jo-Ellan Dimitrius and Mark Mazzarella
" Reflections on The Art of Teaching: Using Acting Techniques in Improving Teaching"
By Satarupa Das
My aspiration to be a good teacher always leads me to focus on skills and techniques to improve my teaching. The title of this November 9th 2007 seminar seemed attractive and suggested that I will probably learn something to enhance my communication skill - the skill that helps me deliver effectively my knowledge to my students. The seminar turned out to be another interesting and informative seminar sponsored by CTE.
I was not totally unfamiliar with classes being likened to performances or shows. Some years ago I was a Visiting Professor at Western Carolina University (WCU). Every day at 9 am as we got ready to step out for our first class of the day, the professor whose office was in front of mine, used to step out and call aloud to every colleague on the hallway- “Showtime!” This cheerful call always amused me but it made perfect sense - we were all going to perform in a “show”, our class. Teaching was serious business at WCU and we were always expected to perform our best at the “show”.
Professor Justice likened the role of a teacher teaching his /her paying students to that of an actor giving a live performance for the paid audience. Just like an actor, the teacher tries to convey a message to the students and he is does so by fully commanding the attention of his audience. Professor Justice pointed out similarities and dissimilarities between acting and teaching. In fact, he agreed that our job is harder than that of an actor. In a theater, the actor just has one role to play. The director, screenwriter, costume designer, lighting manager all help the actor to perform his/her role. For teachers, there is no such help - all those roles are combined to be performed by the one person “the teacher”.
Professor Justice focused on many factors/techniques that improves our “acting”- where you stand, how you stand, what you wear, how you talk, how your body language comes out - all these are important factors in determining the success of the “actor”. He shared with us techniques that an acting student will learn - voice exercises, muscle exercises to relax our brain and muscles before we walk into our class. During the seminar, all participants practiced some hand and leg exercise that energized us. (I think we can try to use them on our students as well to relax them and energize them especially if we are teaching in a long class.) In the end, Professor Justice advised us to `teach from our heart'.
I had a couple of thoughts after the seminar. The techniques that Prof. Justice shared with us can help bring out the passionate teacher in us. If we are passionate about our subject, some of our passion seeps out without any conscious effort on our part. But I think with these acting techniques we can make our passion gush out.
Second, I feel that acting skill is important since we are teaching in a community college. My personal view is that while it is always great to have a teacher who has these effective communication skills, such skills can be somewhat pushed to the background, if one is teaching in a graduate class or guiding graduate students through their research. Advanced graduate students or even advanced undergraduate students often look at the professor as a facilitator of research and learning, not so much as a communicator or teacher. On the other hand, we are exposing our students for the first time in the subject matter. We need to capture their interest and retain their interest. Undergraduate teaching, especially teaching in community college is not just an affair of education but also entertainment!
However, the last point brought up another strand of thought. To what extent should we provide entertainment to our students? I agree that we need to be innovative in our teaching methods to capture student attention in an age where attention span is very short (experts say not more than 15- 20 minutes). I agree that as teachers we should be engaging. But engagement should be a two way street. What should students do to keep themselves engaged? Attending a class should not be like watching a TV show or theater where one plops down on a seat and just wants to be entertained. My view is that we have to be focused on both these matters - how we can become better teachers and how students can become better learners.
Registration and Contact Information:
To register, contact: Rosalyn M. King, Chair, CTE at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 703-450-2629.
You can also visit our website at: www.nvcc.edu/loudoun/cte
Contact your campus representative:
James Baer and Mary Hanrahan (NVCC-AL); Gerald Boyd , Trudy Gillevet, and Nan Peck (NVCC-AN); Chris Blake (NVCC-LO); Pat Lazzarino (NVCC-MA); Patricia Ottavio (NVCC-MEC); Barbara Gershman and Barbara Marotta (NVCC-WO); Joan Trabandt (ELI); Terry Rooker (GCC-Fredericksburg) Randy Beckham(GCC- Locust Grove); Nicole Martin and Curtis Morgan (LFCC).