Monday, November 19, 2012

How I improvised my 20% Project

My head is all abuzz from the night I just had....and no alcohol was involved.

Tonight, I had my "final presentation" for my personal 20% Project.

In the past, I've blogged about the 20% Project I have my students do. It is a great experience for them and I'm saddened when a student doesn't take the opportunity to learn something meaningful for them. This semester, I allowed my students to work in groups and some chose the group over their project. In other words, they sacrificed doing a project they really wanted to do in order to work with a specific person or group.

As I was brainstorming how to inspire them next semester, I thought, how could I model the process for them. Then it hit my own 20% Project. I kicked around some ideas and decided there was one thing I really have wanted to learn for a long time, but never had the courage to do....Improv Comedy!

So, for the past 8 weeks, every Monday night I met with 10 other aspiring improvers and learned games, practiced techniques, developed scenes, and had a wonderful time. I even used some of the games with my students to teach some aspects of storytelling and purchased a book about improv games in the classroom.

Tonight, we ended the class with a public performance attended by about 25 of our friends and family. Fittingly, it was our best performance in the 8 weeks. After the show, several of us went out for a celebratory dinner. One of my classmates asked us all why we took the class to begin with. We all had different reasons; One person wanted to be a profession improv comedian, a couple wanted to improve on public speaking skills, and some just thought it sounded like fun. But, whatever the reason, we all had that internal motivation to learn something new whether it had a practical application or not.

I know it sounds cliche, but I really can't put into words the effect this class had on me. I do, however, know I want my students to experience the same rewarding feeling I had. I'm going to share with my students about my journey these past 8 weeks and let them see the enthusiasm that is created by learning something for the sake of learning.

The Level 2 class starts in January and most, if not all, of our makeshift troupe plans to continue this journey together. I challenge anyone considering or doing a 20% Project with their students to do one of their own. The personal fulfillment was so much more than I anticipated. Now, I just need to get the courage to take the next step in this adventure....inviting students to my next public performance.