The Fear and Thrill of "Not Knowing"

I've been in the midst of parent-teacher conferences this week, attempting to balance on that precipice between comfortable and professional, between seeking to learn from families and providing information gleaned from my observations and assessments. In chatting with parents, I'm overwhelmed by the impressive majority of students for whom improv in the classroom is an absolute delight: They revel in the chance to play, to challenge themselves, to interact. My suspicions and theories about the value of integrating improvisational theatre have, generally speaking, been confirmed by my students and their parents.

However, there are two students for whom improv is not a joy...it is downright difficult. For Paul, a student who enjoys being social and doesn't mind being silly or the center of attention, engaging in improv at school is a chore he puts up with. For Daniella, a child who is focused on appearing cool and collected...even withdrawn, improv takes her out of her comfort zone and requires her to participate and engage with her peers.

I believe it is the potential power of improv that is so daunting for these students. In taking risks, in jumping into the abyss of THE UNKNOWN, we must trust others to laugh with us and not at us. We must be okay with not appearing cool. This is a lot to ask of a thirteen year-old.

How can this experience be turned around? Click on the link below to read an interview with an unlikely career improviser--a trained lawyer who became an improvisational actor and finds "not knowing" to be thrilling rather than terrifying.
Click here: A Conversation with Dave Pasquesi

I don't know all of the answers...and that's the point in all of this, isn't it? I'll be engaging in a journey with these students. We'll unpack what is comfortable and uncomfortable--and the value of each--through journaling and discussing the impact and application of our improvisational experiences and experiments. I'll pay special attention to the games and activities that engage these two students. When are they smiling? When are they engaged with their partner and showing clear eye contact? Perhaps these are the students who have the most to gain from this work...from this play. Onward!

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