Updated: Nov 4, 2018
Being the leader of the 9-12's class, I am responsible for creating weekly session plans, but each week, particularly during warm up, I find myself laughing at myself because the kids in our program come up with ideas for warm up games that are so much better than mine! I feel obliged to throw all my planning out the window and just let them lead for a while instead. When I take a student's idea and run with it, I notice a shift in their attitude. There’s suddenly a sense of accomplishment and motivation fluttering about and they naturally want to continue sharing ideas and creating together.
There is an improvisation game called 'Yes, Let’s!', which is about accepting an offer and running with it. A suggestion is called out by saying “Let’s…” and the entire group responds with “Yes, Let’s!” and then they act out whatever was suggested. We’ve played this game many times as an activity. But, as a leader, I’ve actually begun to think this way (to some extent) throughout the entire class! I can see that when students are given a platform where they are heard and supported, magic begins to happen.
For example, there was a moment in one of our check-ins a few weeks ago in which a student who doesn’t typically offer suggestions or state their needs, stated that she wanted us all to go for a walk. It was apparent to me that she was feeling a little uneasy that day, so I decided to accept her idea. This ended up being one of the best character brainstorming sessions our class has ever had! The students were able to run around outside and play freely, and as they played they began to build characters and relationships that have since gone on to become very important elements in our show!
In addition to the emergence of play and blossoming friendships, I also noticed that the student who had suggested going for a walk was no longer showing signs of anxiety.
I believe that simply listening to my students is more effective than trying to get them to fit into my preconceived plans. Taking those ten minutes to walk outside brought us all closer together and was the birth place of a sense of ease and united community- elements that have only ever grown, since.
So, the next time someone makes a suggestion to you, try your best to “Yes, Let’s” it, and see what unfolds...
Play. Share. Explore.
By Alana Perri.