Adaptation and Flexibility: At the Heart of Integrating Improv

What is at the core of integrating improvisational theater into the classroom?  Is it embracing innovation and multiple possibilities?  Is it building an environment in which taking risks and "failing forward" is supported and celebrated?  Is it the development of a classroom environment in which fun and joy are as treasured as academic rigor?  Yes and yes and yes.

And, at the heart of this entire production is you--the teacher--the ever-flexible, adaptable, creative teacher.

This is not the sort of teaching we do as robots.  We are not marching through a scripted curriculum, on page 173 with the rest of our grade level.  We are teaching with our hearts and minds; we are applying our professional expertise to make curricular and pedagogical decisions in real-time.  We determine our curricular (academic or social or...) objective ahead of time, draw on multiple resources, assess the needs of the group, and adapt as necessary to best support this specific group of kids at this specific moment.  And then we wing it.

This is not "winging it" as folks might imagine after reading about "the failure of public education"--stories of the bogeyman dressed up in the mask of an ill-prepared, insensitive, moronic public school teacher.  (These folks are, by far, the extreme minority of educators, by the way.)  No, no.  I mean the sort of "winging it" which involves tremendous preparation and thought, which involves trusting yourself and your professional expertise, which involves being in the moment with your students...and then being confident and present enough to adapt to meet the needs of the group.

As teachers who are integrating the principles and activities of improvisational theater into our classrooms, the adaptations we make take various forms:
- Adapting our plan in the middle of a lesson to better support and challenge our students.
- Adjusting existing games to meet our specific goals.
- Inventing new games and activities to support our curricular and social objectives.

In my next few posts, I'll be exploring these forms of adaptation. 
MY HERO: The Flexible Teacher


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