6 Secrets To Digging And Bring Up Your Child’s Talent


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Could your child be the next American Idol? The next American president? Just maybe.

Daniel Coyle, author of the bestselling book, The Talent Code, says you can up a child’s chances immensely by understanding one key thing: greatness isn’t born, it’s grown.

Coyle spent two years bouncing between nine of the world’s greatest talent hotbeds—tiny, magical places that produce huge numbers of world-class performers in sports, art, music, and math. And what he found is that parents have been sold an incorrect picture as to how genius happens. Immense talent isn’t written into kids’ DNA, Coyle says, it’s the result of a distinctive and powerful pattern, a pattern that combines three elemental forces: targeted methods of practicing, specific methods of motivating, and coaching.

How kids practice, how they deal with failure, how they get praised, and how they are criticized, all play a part in the likelihood of achieving greatness. “Of course, not everyone grows up to be a Michelangelo or a Michael Jordan,” Coyle says, but understanding that genius is not an accident, but the result of a distinctive and powerful pattern, helps parents unlock the neurophysiology of learning.

Whether he was on a crummy tennis court in Russia that produced more top-20 players than the entire United States, or thousands of miles away at a classical musical academy in the Adirondacks, coaches in talent hotbeds “would speak with the same kind of rhythm, give the same kinds of instructions, and look at their students with the same kind of gaze. The practices would feature similar methods, like slowing things down to unbelievably slow speeds, or compressing the practice into a tiny space and speeding it up,” Coyle says.

He found that what was most striking about the talent hotbeds was “how amazingly similar” they all were. Want to create your own hotbed at home? Here are Coyle’s six strategies for unlocking kids’ talents:

Watch for tiny, powerful moments of ignition. It’s not easy to practice deeply—it requires passion, motivation, persistence, and the emotional fuel we call love. New research is showing us that when it comes to motivation, we are all born with the neurological equivalent of hair triggers. When a child’s identity becomes intertwined with a goal, the trigger fires, and a tsunami of unconscious motivational energy is released. Coyle points to a study done with a set of young musicians in which young musicians who foresaw themselves as adult musicians learned 400 percent faster than kids who did not. “It’s not genes that made these kids succeed, it’s the fuel contained inside a tiny idea: I want to be like them,” Coyle says.

Understand that all practice is not created equal—not by a long shot. The talent hotbeds have long known a crucial fact that science is just discovering: skill-acquisition skyrockets when we operate on the edge of our abilities, making errors and correcting them—a state called “deep practice.” The takeaway: mistakes aren’t verdicts; they’re information we use to build fast, fluent skill circuits. Kids who are able to see errors as fuel for learning, rather than setbacks, are the ones that eventually become geniuses.

Recognize that slow practice is productive practice. This technique is common to virtually every talent hotbed, from tennis to cello to math. The reason it works: when you go slow, you can sense and fix more errors—coach yourself to build a better skill circuit. At Meadowmount, a classical-music school whose alumni include Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, the rule is, you should play slow enough that a passer-by can’t recognize the song. As one coach puts it, “It’s not how fast you do it. It’s how slow you can do it correctly.”

Praise effort, not natural ability. When we praise a child’s intelligence, we’re telling her that status is the name of the game, and she reacts by taking fewer risks. When we praise effort, however, kids become more inclined to take risks, make mistakes, and learn from them—the essence of deep practice and learning. It’s no coincidence that talent hotbeds use effort-based language: The Russian tennis players I met don’t “play” tennis – the word is borot’sya – to struggle.

Encourage mimicry. Copying is a neurological shortcut to skill. Vividly imagining yourself perfecting a skill is a great first step to actually doing it, whether you’re writing or dancing. Tim Gallwey, the author/tennis instructor, teaches beginner students to play a passable game in twenty minutes through mimicry—all without uttering a single word of instruction.

Stand back. The kind of deep practice that grows skill circuits can only come from within the kid, not from the parent, no matter how well-meaning. As Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck puts it, all parental advice can be distilled into two essential points: 1) pay attention to what your child stares at; 2) praise them for their effort. In other words, notice when they fall in love, and help them to use the energy of that love wisely.

When you start thinking about talent as a process—when you see the power of certain forms of practice, when you look for inner passion, when you tune into the teaching signals you can send—life changes, Coyle says. Like most big changes, it shows itself in small ways. “For our family, it’s when our son has a tough new song on the piano, and my wife encourages him to try just the first bar, or just the first five notes over and over, doing it in baby steps until it starts to click. Or when our daughters are skiing, and they excitedly inform us that they fell a bunch of times, which must be a sign that they are getting better,” Coyle says. (A concept that works better with skiing than it will with learning to drive a car).

Mostly, though, teaching kids that talent is built, not born, allows them to look at failure in a completely new way. Failure is not a verdict, it’s a path forward. And mistakes are not something to be embarrassed about, they’re steps on the path to success. Without them, greatness is not possible.

Serving Up A Slice Of Einstein On Pi Day,Which Is Also Albert Einstein’s Birthday


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It’s on this day each year that so many debate the merits of Dutch apple a la mode vs. lemon meringue pie.

It’s the day pie lovers embrace the (other) Pi (3.14…), transforming March 14th into a good reason to globally celebrate Pi with pie.

For those of us who celebrate fundamental scientific research every day, we raise our forkfuls for yet another reason: to celebrate the man who brought us theories about space and time that, among other things, make today’s GPS so accurate and our search for gravitational waves a reality. Yes, Pi Day is also Albert Einstein’s birthday.

Soon, I will have the honor of participating in this year’s World Science Festival in Australia, where so much of my involvement there is a reflection of science and technology that hinges on Einstein’s contributions and specifically his connection to the NSF-funded Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO).

Einstein, the “poster child” for fundamental scientific research

It’s been a little over a year since the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that the project it had funded for more than 40 years, LIGO, had detected gravitational waves resulting from two merging black holes 1.3 billion lightyears away.

Not only did Einstein theorize the existence of gravitational waves, his theories provided the tools to set up experiments, simulations and instrumentation that could realize his bold ideas. How did we know LIGO’s detection was two black holes merging? Einstein’s theory of General Relativity. Gravitational physicists from around the world had developed numerical codes that model black holes in this theory. This new discipline, called Numerical Relativity, is the one that provided the simulations that agree with the observations.

And these simulations, done on supercomputers, weren’t easy to achieve. Most of the breakthroughs in this area have been achieved by brilliant researchers in only the past 15 years, and by a large margin most of this work in the U.S. was funded by NSF.

But this is what we do. And the payoff is that NSF research, along with our national and international collaborators, has literally opened a new window to our universe. We have found a way to observe some of the most powerful cosmic phenomena that occur in the farthest reaches of our universe, without leaving our own planet, and we have achieved the means to understand it! It’s a feat that never ceases to amaze me. And one certainly worthy of quite a bit of pie!

When science gives you new windows…

I’m often asked why I became an astrophysicist, to which I reflect on the wonder I held even as a young girl, looking out at the stars. Today, that same sense of awe is coupled with a curiosity shared far beyond my scientific community. In much the same way one gets to know a school or neighborhood to its fullest extent, I believe collectively we share a desire to learn more about our universe. Only last month, an NSF-funded astronomer was among the cadre who discovered seven Earth-like exoplanets outside our solar system.

NSF has long invested in exploring our universe with ground-based approaches that exploit the electromagnetic spectrum from radio waves to gamma-rays. It has also funded observatories that detect high-energy particles of cosmic origins. Now, with the advent of LIGO, NSF also supports the observation of gravitational waves. In fact, as NSF leadership and our National Science Board distilled the broad range of science into “big ideas” that represent important questions for our future, we naturally determined one of them as “windows on the universe.”

I believe strongly that it’s our investment in fundamental research that will allow us not only to see and understand so much more of our universe, but develop understanding, tools and technology along the way that can also be important economic drivers and excite the next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians who test and prove theories and create new theories of their own.

What’s next for LIGO

NSF continues to invest in this project because we believe this is just the beginning for a whole new way to study our universe. The plan for Advanced LIGO is that it will run at three separate times, increasing sensitivity with each new “run” of the project’s two interferometers in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington. The hope was that with this second run that is ongoing, European collaborators would also jump into the observations with their Advanced VIRGO detector, and all of this would potentially increase and improve detections.

At this point, VIRGO is delayed because of technical issues, but the LIGO detectors will likely continue until the summer, and we still hope that VIRGO can join in. Our expectation is that potentially we could still see two to five detections. The third run will occur in 2018.

Additionally, we may hear from India on which location they have officially selected, and their plans for a third LIGO interferometer that could get up and running in 2024. That seems like a long time away, but a third LIGO interferometer would help triangulate signals and potentially allow researchers to pinpoint the origin of these cosmic phenomena more accurately.

These are big plans that potentially will provide big news about our universe. And that’s a win for all of us, anyway you slice it.

Section 508 is an amendment to the US Rehabilitation


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With publication in the Federal Register on January 18, 2017, the long-awaited Section 508 Refresh became a reality. Publication started a 60-day countdown to the rule’s taking effect on March 20. Compliance with the new Section 508–based standards is required starting January 18, 2018. This Spotlight provides basic information regarding what the Refresh might mean for eLearning.

What is Section 508?

Section 508 is an amendment to the US Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It requires federal agencies to ensure that all electronic and information technology and content that they develop, obtain, or maintain is fully accessible to people with disabilities. The Refresh updates the requirements that equipment and content must meet to be considered accessible.

So, what does the Refresh mean for eLearning?

Federal agencies are required to comply with Section 508; therefore, any business that supplies electronic and information technology, goods, or services to a federal agency must ensure that those items meet the updated accessibility standards. This includes hardware and software, website design, apps—and educational or training programs.

In addition, many state governments have adopted Section 508, and all states receive funding under the Assistive Technology Act. Therefore, most state agencies and their suppliers, including state universities, are also required to comply.

The regulations apply to all publicly accessible content and to most official communication content, including emergency notifications, policy announcements, notices of program eligibility or employment opportunities, questionnaires, forms and templates, and educational or training materials.

This means, for example, that all eLearning that a state university offers, whether standalone courses or elements of in-person courses, must meet the new guidelines.

Professor lawsuits University Forced Him To Teach Maths Only Because ‘Asians Are Good At Maths’


A Korean-American professor filed a lawsuit against the University of Illinois at Chicago last week, claiming that officials in his department “systematically harassed” him because of his ethnicity and forced him to teach a math class because he was Asian.

Seung-Whan Choi, a professor of international relations, says that UIC’s political science department denied him fair raises, according to a lawsuit filed last week and obtained by The Huffington Posttreated him unfairly and forced him to teach classes that he wasn’t qualified to teach.

“They don’t like Korean-Americans,” Choi, a retired Army officer who was born in South Korea, told The Chicago Tribune. “I’m supposed to be very submissive to the department head, who is white-American.”

The lawsuit claims that department officials forced Choi to teach a statistics class because, as it quotes one department head as saying, “Asians, especially Koreans, are very good” at math. Similarly, Choi claims that the department pressured him into teaching a class in Korean politics, even though he has had no formal training in that field of study.

The lawsuit also claims that Dennis Judd, who was head of the political science department in 2015, changed one of Choi’s student’s grades without first telling Choi. When confronted about the grade change, the lawsuit says, Judd told Choi that, “as a foreigner,” he “has to keep in mind who he is dealing with and what he is wishing for” and that Koreans “are stubborn and do not understand American culture of compromise.”

The professor also claims that his colleagues have wrongfully accused him of lacking in academic contributions, though a copy of Choi’s curriculum vitae posted on UIC’s website shows that Choi authored two books in 2016 and has had 35 scholarly articles published.

Choi believes that some of the mistreatment stems from his decision to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2010, after he was fired for an undisclosed reason. As a result of Choi’s 2010 complaint, the university settled with the professor through a mediator and reinstated Choi with a promotion in 2011.

The lawsuit says that Choi’s colleagues resented him and retaliated by isolating Choi from the rest of the department and treating him unfairly.

The professor filed a second complaint with the EEOC in October 2016, accusing the department of relatiation and continued discrimination, according to court documents obtained by HuffPost. Days later, Choi received a “right to sue” notice.

The harassment has humiliated Choi, causing him physical illnesses, severe anxiety, depression and high blood pressure, the lawsuit claims.

“It’s frustrating and sometimes I just don’t want to go to work because of … the bad and dirty politics within the department,” Choi told the Tribune.

UIC’s department of political science did not immediately return The Huffington Post’s request for comment.

Leveraging the paid-for knowledge and organizational knowledge: Merging Knowledge, Technology, and People


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Forward-looking HR executives and chief learning officers know that their job is not only about facilitating the delivery of operational knowledge to their organization’s employees, consultants, and suppliers. They also realize that they can increase the overall operational efficiency and performance of their organization by identifying and leveraging the paid-for knowledge that has been neglected or lost within their organization. It’s the age-old question: “How do we get more for less with what we have?”

This simple question has deep implications that, if answered, can result in HR’s and CLOs’ having a permanent seat on the board because the answer to the “more for less” question directly relates to the advantage and survival of an organization in a globally competitive world.

What is “paid-for knowledge”?

Paid-for knowledge includes two basic groups of knowledge. General records knowledge includes sales, customer service, inventory, accounting, and other records management that is aggregated during an organization’s daily activities. Deep knowledge is that vital, enduring knowledge that requires specialized training to define, understand, and use. These two groups of knowledge operate together, but deep knowledge transcends general knowledge in several different ways.

General knowledge tends to be rule-based and more routine, requiring users to know how to use specialized data and the applications that manage that data. Deep knowledge tends to be more intellectual and results in the development of intellectual property, trade secrets, operational know-how, and the lessons-learned knowledge that produces or enhances products, services, or operational functions and processes.

Once conceived, deep knowledge is gained through a trade-off process that involves planning, evaluation, refinement, and, ultimately, implementation.

With The Rise Of Donald Trump,what School Segregation Has To Do


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Donald Trump’s personal life ― in all likelihood ― has not been directly impacted by the patterns of public school segregation. Trump attended a private school in Queens as a child, before transferring to a private military boarding school as a teen. His four older kids attended private high schools, and his youngest is also currently enrolled at a private school in Manhattan.

But his rise to power ― as the nation’s newest president-elect ― is likely related to the dismantling of school desegregation policies, according to several researchers and academics who study school diversity.

In recent years, integration of schools has largely been abandoned as a national priority ― an indicator that various racial groups are spending less time interacting. This lack of familiarity makes it easy for students, parents and stakeholders to demonize groups who don’t look like them ― a staple of Trump’s campaign, said Gary Orfield, distinguished professor and co-director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA.

“The American dream is very, very similar across racial and ethnic lines. People who actually experience interracial contact, especially under appropriate conditions, develop more positive attitudes,” said Orfield, who has been studying this issue for decades. “Racial segregation fosters prejudice. It fosters false understandings.”

Trump’s strategy to embolden racists with hate rhetoric ― speaking of Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and proposing a ban on Muslims entering the country ― did not become a winning one in a vacuum. In part, the dismantling of school desegregation efforts ― coupled with demographic changes that have resulted in the country being more diverse ― may have created the landscape that allowed Trump’s racially-charged agenda to thrive.

However, when people from different groups spend time together ― whether it be at a school soccer game or PTA meeting ― prejudices typically fade. Latinos ― who bore the brunt of much of Trump’s rhetoric ― are especially segregated in schools. Because of this isolation and a sustained population surge, it makes sense that Latinos have been targeted by Trump and his supporters, says Orfield. The average Latino student attends a school that is 57 percent Latino, while the average white student attends a school that is 73 percent white ― suggesting that these two populations are not often in situations where they are raising families together.

Its been a change so dramatic and so fast, I think many whites are stunned.

Decades of evidence on racial integration suggest that racially integrated school environments reduce racial prejudice and bias, according to Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, a public policy research group.

“That’s been a major setback in this country where we’ve seen resegregation by race and class in the public schools,” Kahlenberg said. This can open the door to “scapegoat minorities.”

Research shows that GOP voters who feel most warmly about Trump seem to have the most negative attitudes about immigrants, Islam and living in a majority-minority nation.Trump’s election has emboldened racists so much so that in the days since Nov. 8, a rash of racial and religiously-based hate crimes have broken out around the country.

In schools’ demographics we see how these negative attitudes may have been borne. According to Orfield’s research,between 1968 and 2011, there was a 28 percent decline in white public school enrollment, and a 495 percent increase in levels of Latino students. Nationwide, school populations now have a majority of minority children. Black students in regions like the south and west are now more segregated than they were in the late 80s and 90s, and schools in the northeast are more segregated than they were before 1968.

This is partly because Brown v. Board of Education ― the supreme court case that made state-sanctioned segregation unconstitutional in 1954 ― only dealt with the question of white and black students, making Latinos largely invisible in subsequent school desegregation policies.

“We just assumed we could go through this very dramatic demographic change without really working on it, from either side really,” Orfield said. “Its been a change so dramatic and so fast, I think many whites are stunned. Especially older whites, they think their society is going away. And it is. We’re creating a different society.”

But it’s not just in schools where populations can be exposed to diversity. In previous decades, the military brought together groups from different racial and economic backgrounds, Kahlenberg said. Once the draft ended in 1973, the military no longer served such a function.

Religious institutions, too, could make a difference in promoting racial tolerance, although there is little indication that this is happening, said Matthew Delmont, a professor of history at Arizona State University.

“We’re really left with public schools as the place where people of different backgrounds can come together and learn from one another,” Kahlenberg said.

The most recent election cycle has brought explicit hate back into the national discourse, Delmont said. Schools could provide a long-term solution to this by providing “more daily interactions across racial and ethnic lines,” he said. There’s opportunity for more nuanced and informed conversations to take place.

“Watching how the debates unfolded in this last presidential cycle, white Americans and people of color are talking past each other and fundamentally understand issues of race and prejudice in very different terms,” said Delmont, who wrote a book about resistance to school desegregation in the north. He said he couldn’t guarantee that racially integrated schools would change the political outlook, but it does encourage people to talk to each other.

“When you have conditions of segregation as we do in this country,” he said, “It’s easy for people to let their fears dominate how they view the world.”

Teacher Told Kids Donald Trump Will Deport Their Parents Reportedly


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A substitute teacher in Los Angeles was recorded allegedly telling sixth-grade students that their parents will be deported now that Donald Trump has been elected president, sparking outrage and concern among some students and their families.

“If you were born here, then your parents got to go. Then they will leave you behind, and you will be in foster care,” an unidentified man can be heard saying in audio obtained by NBC 4.

Trump repeatedly vowed during his campaign to deport undocumented immigrants and build a wall along the United States’ border with Mexico.The shocking warning was reportedly made Wednesday at Bret Harte Preparatory Middle School, which state data shows is predominantly made up of Latino students.

When one child asked how their family members will be found, the man, who parents identified to NBC as a long-time physical education teacher, is heard saying: “I have your phone numbers, your address, your mama’s address, your daddy’s address. It’s all in the system, sweetie.”

One child said that her teacher’s words particularly disturbed her because her father is undocumented.

“I worry about my dad because I had a nightmare that he wasn’t with me anymore,” she told CBS 2.

Parent Jennifer Reynaga also expressed distress over the seemingly blanketed threat made to the students.

“I would think the kids would do it, but I never thought a teacher would do it,” she told NBC 4.

Parents told both local news stations that the teacher has been fired, according to their communication with school district officials.

The middle school referred all questions to the school district, which did not immediately return requests for comment Monday.

Three Techniques That Create More Engaging Content


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Camtasia 9 was released today.

Camtasia is a tool that I spend a great deal of time using. As is true of many users, I use a subset of the features and ignore many others that are less useful to me. With the release of Camtasia 9, TechSmith is trying to further cement the production software as the “Swiss Army knife” of eLearning tools. A fully featured tool, Camtasia allows you to edit video and produce quizzes, and it comes stocked with dozens of visual effects and transitions.

Camtasia does have a 30-day trial edition you can use to follow along with these tutorials if you have not yet purchased Camtasia 9 (Figure 1). Camtasia is cross-platform: Windows and Mac machines can use the same development files.

(Editor’s note: If viewing this article on a smartphone or a tablet, you may find that placing your device in landscape orientation will make some of the figures more legible.)

Figure 1: The new Camtasia 9 interface while editing an instructional video

Let’s take a look at three production techniques with the new Camtasia 9 that will allow you to see exactly what the new software can do and how it can help you create more engaging content.

Exploring the Link Between Ongoing Learning and Performance


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In the past, learning paths were created for employees, courses assigned, and boxes checked off when they were completed. In today’s workplace, those traditional learning plans just don’t cut it.

Today’s workers are looking for more than just training—they want to be part of a true learning culture, one that encourages and supports different styles of learning, from formal workshops to mentorship. In fact, a 2015 Gallup report found that employees who get the opportunity to continually develop are twice as likely to say they’ll spend their career with the company.

The definition of a true learning culture is when an organization is able to create, acquire, and transfer knowledge quickly, and modify its behavior to reflect that knowledge. It recognizes career development opportunities as the best way to retain valuable employees and maximize performance. Research backs this up: Aon Hewitt found that career development discussions are important in keeping employees motivated and engaged.

So how can HR (human resources) support employee performance through ongoing learning at your workplace? Here are a few strategies to consider:

  • Supporting career development. Organizations should approach learning and development as a process, not a test to pass or fail.
  • Connecting the dots. One way to promote a learning culture and drive engagement is to ensure that employees understand how their learning plans help them succeed in their role.
  • Encouraging employees to take charge of their own career development. Managers play a key role in supporting their employees’ learning and performance achievements, but employees need to be active in their own career development as well. Not only does this boost engagement, it also holds employees responsible for their own advancement.

The benefits of ongoing learning and performance

Learning resonates for both employees and employers. For employees, it represents a tangible investment in them on the part of the organization. For employers, it’s a cost-effective tool for supporting job satisfaction and retention.

Improve in the Classroom


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or the last 15 years or so, I have performed improv comedy in Chicago. During much of that time, I also taught English classes at Kendall College, a culinary and hospitality school. As you might imagine, my improv skills come in handy in the classroom. Here is a brief introduction for how the basic concepts of improv, when employed skillfully, help improve the classroom climate.

  • Yes, and …” “Yes, and …” is probably the most fundamental concept in improv. It’s pretty simple to understand. Basically, when you are onstage with a scene partner, the two of you are tasked with creating a scene together. To do this, you need to support each other’s choices. So, if your scene partner proposes that the two of you are astronauts who have just landed on the moon, you must affirm this choice and then add something to it. The reason for this practice is that if you were to negate your partner’s choice, the scene would become bogged down in argument. This applies to the classroom in a number of ways, but for me it applies primarily to discussions and brainstorming. Practicing “yes, and …” while facilitating classroom discussion puts me in an affirmative rather than combative mind-set. I am there to help students tease out their ideas and opinions rather than to tell them they’re wrong. “Yes, and …” is also helpful when teaching brainstorming. By practicing “yes, and …” you can model for students how quickly a group can put a coherent brainstorm together. “Yes, and …” seems to protect against some of the critical self-censorship many students are prone to. Given a task, they might begin it but almost immediately feel compelled to circle back and scrutinize their ideas to the point of paralysis, severely bogging down the writing process. By practicing “yes, and…” we circumvent this self-editing tendency in favor of simply going with the flow, following the last thing.
  • Your first answer is your best answer. On stage during a show, you don’t have time to think. No audience will enjoy watching you up there trying to think of the clever thing you want to say. Good improvisers become very practiced in letting go of this need to say something that is perfectly formed. In a way, you get practice in saying many dumb things in front of large groups of strangers. This is helpful in that it loosens our need to always be right. And it can be good practice for students who, again, often feel hesitant to participate in discussions or show you rough drafts of their papers. I encourage students to simply say what is on their minds and to say the first thing on their minds. In this way, the classroom can become an encouraging place to experiment, where students are free to play with new ideas and ways of thinking.
  • Improvising around the lesson plan. Every class has an individual energy, not just over the course of a term but also during each particular class meeting. This energy is subject to change, I’m sure you know, from moment to moment. Given the ever-changing energy of any individual class, one is called upon to improvise around the lesson plan. Maybe this means dropping a planned activity altogether. Maybe it means one day extending discussion beyond the 10 minutes allotted for it. Maybe this means, as happened to me recently, calling upon a student to come to the front of the class and teach for five minutes because this student seemed exceptionally knowledgeable about the topic at hand. Whatever the case, this kind of improvising requires the kind of deep listening one finds among the best improv groups. This listening, a form of awareness, I believe, can be developed, but it entails sometimes being quiet and paying very close attention not only to what students are saying (or not saying) but even to how they are moving about in their chairs (also, do you have them moving about?). We get caught sometimes stubbornly conducting our lesson plans against a classroom dynamic that has shifted before us, hoping that this dynamic will somehow shift back toward our preference. Instead, wouldn’t it be better to acknowledge the changed dynamic and then make changes to a lesson plan in accord with it?

These are just a few of the ways the fundamentals of improv can help create a fun and engaging learning environment. By exhibiting the looseness that improv fosters, your students will respond and be more apt to participate authentically in your class.

Beau Golwitzer teaches English at Kendall College.