Mantle of the expert in Gaza

I first heard about Dorothy Heathcote’s Mantle of the Expert approach in educational drama about 20 years ago when I was doing my Masters degree at the University of Central England. It’s heartening to see it being used to such great effect in UNRWA schools in Gaza. Here, one of the Hands Up Project’s most creative and committed volunteers in Gaza, Haneen Jadalla talks about how she used it with teenage girls in a training session for teachers. Over to you Haneen…

Imagine and fly with your English over the horizon…

I really feel that I was very lucky to be chosen by my supervisor to deliver a Mantle of the expert training course for teachers. In the course we used real learners of English and the teachers observed how we were working together.  It really adds a lot to me as a person and as a teacher to have these kinds of experiences. I am writing here to share this experience with other teachers around the world.

The Mantle of expert approach was developed by the English Drama in Education specialist, Dorothy Heathcote. It uses a fictional context to generate purposeful activities and meaningful learning. As a language teacher, I don’t always keep my plate full . I mean , there is always space to add more for the sake of making my teaching practices really motivating and engaging and this is what the Mantle of the Expert approach can really do.

haneen a

In the session , we all gathered together under the umbrella of drama . I got the idea for this from Tim Taylor’s “Animal Park” Mantle of the expert session, to enable the students to give advice and suggestion in a very motivating – fictional context.

This is how I adapted it for the training session in my UNRWA school in Gaza. You can read my full lesson plan here..Haneen’s Mantle of the Expert Plan

  1. First I divided the student into groups and asked them to brainstorm the importance of animals in the world and how to protect them.
  2. Then I gave them this text to read and asked them to guess the meaning of any words they didn’t know and to help each other with understanding it.

Once upon a time , there was a lovely zoo for different kinds of animals, but this zoo was forced to close due to lack of funds. The zoo’s owner is concerned that the animals are properly cared for and are not hurt in the move.Therefore , a very rich man saw this in the newspaper and decided to build an Animal Park and bring rangers to look after the animals.

3) Then I took on the role of the owner of the park and gave them the role of rangers. In groups they had to decide how they would organise the park.

haneen i

4) Then each group was asked to create a poster for what should and shouldn’t be done by anyone visiting the park so that the animals welfare was taken care of.

haneen g

5) Finally they wrote an invitation to the opening of the park for the old owner and other visitors. The observing teachers in role as visitors received the invitation and came to visit the park. The rangers presented their posters to the visitors.

haneen j

In fact, me and my students were fully immersed in this situation. We read the story together , narrated it , collaborated , put our hands together to build the embodied animal park and created posters for presenting about their experience as animal park rangers. This covers all the aspects of learning the language , I think  and helps the students to move forward with their fluency .

haneen f

Moreover , I think this approach helps the students to act beyond the classroom walls ( as animal park rangers). It provides them with a fully –imaginative context of learning a language where everyone feels the importance of his / her presence and celebrates his role in her own way.

Finally , if I have the chance to do this more and more, I am going to give my students wings to make their imagination fly over the horizon and tell everyone how creative they are ! More drama means more learning opportunities and this will make the world a better place.

haneen c



29 thoughts on “Mantle of the expert in Gaza

      1. It was a very beautiful workshop and a new experience in which there was a sense of participation and cooperation, and I also liked that those who were teachers were participating as well😊


    1. That’s great Farah 🙂 You clearly have a brilliant teacher running your drama club. Can you say what it is about doing drama that makes it such a valuable experience for you?


    2. it’s the best because I have members like you in my class .
      can you please tell us onething you like particularly in the session.


  1. Really it was one of the most amazing experiences. we have worked on a short story which talks about a zoo . and this zoo is going to close because the lack of money . meanwhile a rich man heard this and decided to buy the zoo and get rangers to keep the animal “because animals are important and we discussed the reason in this session ” so . our role was the rangers . and our teacher’s role was the owner and really when we acted the roles we forgot ourselves and flew to another world with imagination . so we lived this as a real event . then we were divided ito four groups and each group had a kind of animals to write the advices and suggestions when the visitors come over to the zoo . so we made our zoo and the group of teachers who came to see the session visited the zoo after we had written the invitation to invite them . so we enjoyed our time so much . and it’s my last year in the prep school but I won’t forget anything in it so I say thank u my amazing teacher for your hard work to make this unforgettable .


    1. Thanks for that nice summary of what you did in the session Nour. I like what you say about living this as a real event.


    2. I like what you say about flying to another world by imagination.It means that we did it amazingly well -tha Mantle Of the Expert lesson.
      we will never forget you too Noor .I hope to see you a famous writer oneday🙂❤


  2. It was a wonderful experience, I enjoyed a lot with beautiful teachers and beautiful students, when we acted this short story we just forgot our selves and enjoyed the play in our imagination, we acted and worked so hard to keep the animals safe like it’s really happening, we’ll never forget that beautiful day, it’s my last year here but in the same time it’s the most beautiful year and joining Drama Club was a great thing I did, so thank you everyone to make this happen and special thanks to my wonderful teacher Haneen and our great leader of the Hands Up Project Mr. Nick Bilbrough .


    1. Rana , thank you for your nice comment.
      Rana , I can understand that you are very into your role as rangers when you say ,” like its really happening” .Yes Rana your learning is really happening throughout this amazing drama🙂


  3. We enjoyed a lot and worked hard to get the best results, we learned new and useful things… I hope everyone participates in the drama club experience because it is a great experience ❤️


  4. We had a lot of fun and worked hard to get the best results, and this was with the help of our teacher, our leader and our collaborators, we learned new and useful things .. I hope everyone participates in the experience of the drama club because it is a great experience❤️


  5. We enjoyed a lot and worked hard to get the best results, we learned new and useful things… I hope everyone participates in the drama club experience because it is a great experience ❤️


  6. Drama was a beautiful thing for me especially the Workshop that took place my school was talking about the importance of animals and how to take care of them and all thanks to my Wonderfull teeacher who made a great effort in this and this workshop


  7. It was a great experience, especially when we spoke to you Nick , and when attended teachers from schools and don’t forget to thank our teacher supervising all this able teacher Haneen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Allaa’.
      I am teaching you from my heart because you are already in❤
      it’s great that you enjoyed this .all the best


    2. Thanks for your nice words Alaa. It was always a pleasure for me to speak to your class and I hope we can do it again when the schools open again in Gaza.


  8. in this beautiful experience I do a very new and nice things so I enjoyed in it a lot and developed my language
    Thank you for give me this wonderful project ❤❤


  9. Thank you ,Haneen for sharing this experience .I really enjoyed reading your blog and learning about this approach .
    What I like the most is the real chance you gave students to practice the language themselves. You involved them with a completely active learning situation.
    Using this will help them to use their deep , critical and creative thinking .
    It will build their self confidence in using the four skills of the language .
    I will try this with my students in the next days , inshallah.


  10. Thanks for all these impressive words!
    Inas , we as language teachers have to create a mood of love , passion and a very postive attitudes towards learning.the language , I think .
    I am very happy that it and you are going to try it .I am ready if you.need any resources .
    All the best🙂


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