Acting is a big part of teaching. Thus, I strongly recommend the following book
which contains gems such as these:
We've all observed different kinds of teachers, so if I describe three
types of status players commonly found in the teaching profession you
may find that you already know exactly what I mean.
I remember one teacher, whom we liked but who couldn't keep
discipline. The Headmaster made it obvious that he wanted to fire
him, and we decided we'd better behave. Next lesson we sat in a
spooky silence for about five minutes, and then one by one we began to
fool about — boys jumping from table to table, acetylene-gas exploding
in the sink, and so on. Finally, our teacher was given an excellent
reference just to get rid of him, and he landed a headmastership at
the other end of the county. We were left with the paradox that our
behaviour had nothing to do with our conscious intention.
Another teacher, who was generally disliked, never punished and yet exerted a
ruthless discipline. In the street he walked with fixity of purpose,
striding along and stabbing people with his eyes. Without punishing,
or making threats, he filled us with terror. We discussed with awe
how terrible life must be for his own children.
A third teacher, who was much loved, never punished but kept
excellent discipline, while remaining very human. He would joke with
us, and then impose a mysterious stillness. In the street he looked
upright, but relaxed, and he smiled easily.
I thought about these teachers a lot, but I couldn't understand the
forces operating on us. I would now say that the incompetent teacher
was a low-status player: he twitched, he made many unnecessary
movements, he went red at the slightest annoyance, and he always seemed like an intruder in the classroom. The one who filled us with terror was a compulsive high-status player. The third was a status expert,
raising and lowering his status with great skill. The pleasure
attached to misbehaving comes partly from the status changes you make
in your teacher. All those jokes on teacher are to make him drop in
status. The third teacher could cope easily with any situation by
changing his status first.
Again I change my behaviour and become authoritative. I ask them what
I've done to create this change in my relation with them, and
whatever they guess to be the reason — 'You're holding eye contact',
'You're sitting straighter' — I stop doing, yet the effect continues.
Finally I explain that I'm keeping my head still whenever I speak, and
that this produces great changes in the way I perceive myself and am
perceived by others. I suggest you try it now with anyone you're with.
Some people find it impossible to speak with a still head, and more
curiously, some students maintain that it's still while they're
actually jerking it about. I let such students practise in front of a
mirror, or I use videotape. Actors needing authority — tragic heroes
and so on — have to learn this still head trick. You can talk and
waggle your head about if you play the gravedigger, but not if you
play Hamlet. Officers are trained not to move the head while issuing