Improv 4 Kids Workshops Help K12 Schools Engage Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
For decades, Improv comedy helped foster a strong team centric atmosphere in the workplace. Since 2003, The Original Improv 4 Kids has used these same tools to bring psychological safety to students, teachers and parents through shows, workshops, residencies and professional development. Now more than ever, students need what Improv delivers. Social Emotional Learning will be key for students reengaging in person classes and society.
The benefits of Improv perfectly align with Social Emotional Learning. Simply playing “games" Improv teaches self awareness, self confidence, and empathy. We learn to let go of our fear of the unknown. We learn to trust our team. We learn to use our voices, loud and proud, then listen intently with our eyes (focus).
As we move into story telling, not only are we teaching creativity, but also critical thinking. We teach the only bad choice is the choice not made. If a choice does not deliver the desired results, make a better, different choice. We learn from our choices. We learn from our mistakes. People that make no choices, take no risk, learn little to nothing.
In the past we used these workshops to specifically tackle bullying in schools. Self confident, self aware students are less likely to be the bully or victim. Also creating a community where EVERY individual feels part of the team raises the entire community.
Laughter Is The Best Medicine.
Whether presenting a show or workshop, laughter may be the best benefit of all.
The laughter alone reduces stress, blood pressure, fear and resentment. Laughter actually turns off the switches in the brain that cause depression, anger, and fear. Laughter lets us open up; laughter turns on our creative and critical minds.
Our shows wonderfully introduce laughter and the art of improv to the community.
Next, in a classroom setting, students quickly learn that creating laughter is even more rewarding than watching a show.
Our #1 Rule: HAVE FUN BUT NEVER AT ANOTHER’S EXPENSE
Too often “humor" is created by folks making jokes sacrificing another individual, or worse a marginalized community.
This is an interpretation of the #1 rule in Improv, “YES! And…”
Improv games should be played/performed by supporting the entire team. We accept EVERYONE, regardless of background. Improv is anti-clique, anti-bully, and anti anti-social.
In our program, we avoid many elimination games, which elevate a single victor, while leaving too many out of the fun, feeling less than.
Unlike most theater productions every player is on equal footing.
When I play a game with a first time student, I cannot take in the ego, and elitist stance of one with 20+ years professional experience. That will destroy a scene as badly as a student that fears working with me.
Leading by example, we expect all to treat all others as equals on stage. We trust each other. I trust my own skills to get me threw a scene, carrying the moment and still make my partner look good.
That is a major part of Improv. You goal is to make your team look great. You have no reason to fear because the entire team has your back.
Spread Benefits To Entire Community
A great way to help the community leap back together is with Improv shows and workshops that include students, teachers and parents, too.
We use these same games to teach corporate groups team building, leadership, sales, and customer service. Teachers, at times, have to be all of the above. Teachers work with a team of teachers, lead classrooms and meetings, often have to sell the benefits of listening in class (or even showing up) and field questions from students, parents and admin. Being a better listener that thinks fast on their feet is a huge skill to bank.
Pictured: Workshop at our Times Square theater for NYC teachers from Brooklyn and Staten Island suspension sites.
Additionally we teach teachers how to use these games to get their students engaged. Schools can only afford so much time of our teaching artists. We usually do a series of one off workshops or a residency with a small class.
Teaching the teachers allows every student to learn from playing these games.
Start a class once a week (or day) with a 2–5 minute group game to wake up the class. Studies at John Hopkins show humor in the classroom increases test scores.
Students that have fun at school tend to have better attendance.
Improv 4 Kids cast is fully vaccinated and will be ready for in person shows and workshops in the New York area after spring break, including our Times Square theater where we host field trips Monday-Friday during school hours. (Strict CDC, NY State and NYC health and safety guidelines followed). The cast will again be ready for nation wide touring this fall.
Walt Frasier has performed 5000+ interactive improv comedy shows since 2002. In that time he has worked with 1000s of student groups via schools (NYC DOE VENDOR, NJ resident), camps and community centers. He currently serves as artistic director of the New York Improv Theater, Times Square NYC where he performs weekly with Improv 4 Kids and LMAO by EIGHT IS NEVER ENOUGH Improv. Previously (2009–2011) he has served as Director of Instruction for the Comedy Hall of Fame. (Pictured below: 2009 with Eddie Brill and Mario Cantone at Queens High School).
In addition to comedy, Walt Frasier has 25+ years working professionally in international TV (costar roles on Billions, Friends of the People, Blue Bloods, Royal Pains, Lilyhammer, Letterman, MTV plus commercials), Theater (off Broadway, international tours, regional) and music (opera, soloist, piano singer).