Teaching Is a Performing Art

Teaching is a performing art. Like a performer, a teacher is on stage in front of an audience. The audience is made up of people with varying degrees of attention, interest or involvement.

In order for the teacher to be effective, she or he must be able to keep material fresh and energized even if the material (subject matter) has been used before and is no longer exciting for the teacher/performer.

Also, the teacher/performer must be able to treat each new class or new audience as "first nighter." That is how Broadway performers are able to put on 8 shows a week, sometimes for years, and still know that each audience is getting the best possible experience. Because for the people in any audience, it is first night for them!

By adapting some of Improv theater principals, K-12 educators can change their own energy and outlook while recharging the students. Think of a teacher that had a large impact on you. Generally, what makes that teacher memorable is the way they were "somehow larger than life." Perhaps a history teacher dressed in period costume, or a math teacher used sports statistics or an elementary school teacher had a facial feature that you can recall 30 later. Whether they "performed" consciously or unconsciously, each of them stand out in your mind.

Here are a few ways to incorporate the Improv attitude into your professional persona:

1. Find out from colleagues, friends and family what is memorable/attractive about your personality. Incorporate that information into your professional life.
2. Learn and practice simple improv games. Play them with friends and family. This will enable you to become more spontaneous because you will be practicing spontaneity!
3. Pat attention to what makes the students excited (in a good way!) Take those insights and incorporate them into your classroom routine. Improvisers know that they are in a team activity so they want others to excel also. Education is also a team activity.
4. Act on things you can control and let go of things you can't control outside of the classroom. When you are in front of the class, you are most effective if you are truly and wholly there. Thinking or worrying about things that have happened or might happen in the future take you away for your audience and away form your stage. Remember. it's always "first night" in some way.

Article Source: Izzy Gesell

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