Improve/Improv

For the last year I have been part of an improvised comedy group . We meet weekly ( haven’t always been able to attend, but that will change this year with new work life balance aims ) to workshop games and techniques and I have now performed in about 5 gigs with them .

Learning how to improvise has been enormously helpful to my teaching and also to my wellbeing. I will aim to explain a few reasons why .

1. Saying yes 

Improv forces you to say yes .You have to agree with your partner to make whatever scenario you find yourself in work . Eg if your partner says , “Hello doctor ……”  If you say ” but I’m not a doctor” you have just killed that scene dead . I’m a bit of a control freak ,I sometimes found it difficult to relinquish planning ideas that I thought were best in the past I  might say , ” No but” or “yes but…” that it almost as bad as saying “no” . Its just killing someone else’s idea dead. Since learning improv I have found myself saying yes more often and just going with the flow . It’s risky , exciting, creative and fun .

2. Not always getting the laugh 

I don’t think I am brilliant at improv , but I am lucky enough to work with people that I think are . Over time I am getting quicker and better. It’s not about always getting the laugh , not everything I say will be funny . It’s ok to play the straight guy .In fact that can be the funniest thing ( I am perfecting my Paul Merton straight face) . Getting a laugh feels great , but actually helping someone get a bigger one feels good too . It might be a duff  idea for advert break , or a terrible scenes we’d like to see . But it might just spark another person to take a leap  into a better joke .

In terms of my teaching , this is about  support . Recognising  the skills of others and letting them flourish .Put the seed of an idea , but be brave enough to let someone else tend the seedling.  In terms of teaching it’s about encouraging children to take that leap . To put that pen to paper and have a go . So what if the first one isn’t that good , the next one will be even better , a little tweaking here and there and you could have an amazing piece of writing . You can spark own creative journey. The more you do it , the better you get .

3. Fun 

I have taught some improv skills to kids and you know what ? They love it ! They are a lot more fearless that adults  and  there are also  a whole host of other skills that it develops . The best thing is that the whole classroom  usually ends up in fits of laughter through a simple game such as 2 headed expert ( which can be tailored to any topic – good for sentence building skills)

This is a subject I will return to as I  continue my adventures in improv.

Even if you don’t feel brave enough to have a go yourself , why not get out there and watch someone else do it or you tube whose line is it anyway and Drew Carey’s Improvaganza  .

There is a whole host of games on the internet such as this encyclopaedia 

Further reading

Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre
Keith Johnstone
ISBN 0878301178 (ISBN13: 9780878301171)
Improvise.: Scene from the Inside Out
Mick Napier
ISBN 032500630X (ISBN13: 9780325006307)
Improv Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Improvising in Theatre, Comedy, and Beyond
Tom Salinsky
ISBN 0826428584 (ISBN13: 9780826428585)

I am looking forward to starting my drama /improv club again and will hopefully be updating this blog  with ideas, thoughts etc

#Nurture14/15 looking forward

So its the first day of 2015 and having just written my reflections on the last year , I’m on a roll so will get started on this one as well .
Well the end of 2014 forced me to take a break and reflect so I have done a lot of thinking about what I want out of life . Here are just a few of the things I would like to achieve this coming year .

1. Organise – Get on top of finances and clear debts – really important this one it links in with teaching in that I will often buy a book or resource and not charge it back to school . Moving out of my classroom the other day made me realise that I need to downsize a lot. In my personal life this is also true . So will really try to ask myself these questions Do I need it ? Can I afford it ? Is it worth it ? I have just unsubscribed from all of the shopping emails that I get sent as well. I need to do some serious shifting of old clothes, books and other junk .
2. Write – Not just blog posts , but journals , letters, allsorts .
3. Cut down  meaningless screen time – I really need to get out of my faux relaxation habit of slumping on the sofa and browsing the internet of an evening . Especially facebook . I did have a bit of a break from it and it was great , so I am going to make a better effort at this .
4. Create – I have a lovely craft desk and a ton of paper and dies, stamps , inks and other goodies so I need to make better use of them as I really do find that immersing myself in creating is a bit like meditating .
5. Travel – whilst I would live to go further afield I am really happy just dotting up and down the country with my husband for odd weekends .Would like to do some more walking as well.
6. Perform – I will hopefully get back on stage with The Same Faces and am hoping to land a part on one of the many productions that Masque is putting on this year.
7. Learn – from my mistakes and move on.
8. Enjoy – My job ( it is changing a little this year so I am looking forward to some new challenges ) I have really reflected on what it is to be a teacher and I need to focus on the main reason I came into teaching which is for the children.
9. Run – just get up and run


10. Nurture – myself with good food , good habits and lots of pampering .
11. Stop – worrying about the past and future and live in the now .

12. Support– my colleagues , pupils,family  and friends

13. Challenge – myself to do new things , step out of the comfort zone every now and then and don’t be afraid to ask for help .

14. Smile 

15. Relax  and with that I’m off to slouch on the sofa with … a book

Nurture 14/15 looking back at 2014

There’s that phrase isn’t there ? “can’t see the wood for the trees”  and this year I was forced to do a bit of pruning in my life . It’s been a very challenging year for many reasons  and whilst I won’t go into detail here , I will just say that something had to give and it was almost me .

I didn’t do a 13/14 nurture blog ,in fact as you can see I haven’t blogged for over a year .

I think I would like to change that , but we’ll see how it goes .
So, I’ll just take a look back at the last year :

1. Looking after myself – I learned the hard way that I need to look after myself . I didn’t see the signs where others did , but luckily I was able to take time and reflect on what  my values truly are .

Putting my feet up .


2. Launching a brand new behaviour policy and seeing it work – at the end of summer, I went to a fantastic course with Paul Dix and with his help was able to create a workable policy that is delivering results across the school .
3. Acting in a play- ok it was just a bit part and I was replacing a drop out, but I had lines and make up and costume . It was fun ( I played Helen of Troy in Troilus and Cressida)

4.Learning new skills – I got a pyrography set for my birthday and have spent some lovely hours burning away . I made a few xmas pressies as well .

5. Appearing on stage in an improv comedy group- again I call myself the ‘supply’ improviser , but I have had the chance to appear onstage a few more times this year with ‘The Same Faces’ I really love improv and have learned a lot this year .

6. Running a half marathon- yup I did the great North Run again and knocked a few minutes off my time. Very proud of myself .

7. Giving up booze for 6 months – not as hard as you would think. Although I do wish there was a bit more choice in bars for non drinkers .
8.Understanding the benefits of sharing – in my case especially of talking about problems rather than hiding away from them .
9. Appreciating the amazing colleagues that I work with .
10. Kind words from parents – it really does make a difference when you are thanked .
11. Being able to support children who are struggling . As pastoral leader this isn’t always easy , but I always try to be there to listen .
12. Seeing amazing live music . My husband and I have spent a lot of time travelling to gigs around the country, quite a few of them bands we both loved in our younger years. Highlights were : Arcade Fire, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, NIN and The orb . There’s something special about being right there .

13- Being married for 10 years – my husband is amazing

14 – Making time for friends – lots of cups of tea, shopping and day trips and maybe the odd glass of wine ;-p

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