Are you tired of feeling like there’s never enough time to implement all the required strategies in your classroom? Do you dread pulling out board games or setting up individualized lessons for SEL and Growth Mindset? Applied Improvisation in Education (AIEDU) offers a solution by embedding competencies directly into your content and daily plans in just 3-5 minutes. AIEDU is an evidence-based approach that promotes collaboration, creativity, and risk-taking while reducing stress and anxiety. Used by top companies and institutions like Google, Mayo Clinic, and Harvard University, AIEDU is a fun way to develop essential skills in your students. Let Christiana Frank Consulting help you incorporate AIEDU into your classroom or organization and say goodbye to frustrating teaching techniques for good!
Do not worry, my fellow educator, because there is an easier way to develop these essential skills in your students. Enter Applied Improvisation in Education, or AIEDU for short. AIEDU is an evidence-based approach that requires no materials and can be embedded directly into your content in just 2-3 minutes. It’s like the ninja of teaching techniques – fast, efficient, and simple to learn. So, put down those flashcards and let’s explore the wacky world of AIEDU, where learning is fun, impactful and gives results; Goodbye frustration and hello educational play!
Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)
Before we talk about AIEDU, let’s define SEL. SEL is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. In other words, SEL is the foundation for developing key 21st-century skills such as collaboration, creation, communication, and personal awareness.
SEL is composed of five competencies that work together to promote emotional and behavioral well-being. These competencies are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Each competency is essential for developing a student’s emotional intelligence and social skills, and AIEDU can help in developing each of them.
A term coined by leading expert Carol Dwek who is known for her work on motivation and mindset. The Growth Mindset refers to the belief that intelligence, talent, and abilities can be developed through hard work, dedication, and perseverance. Students who have a Growth Mindset believe that their abilities can grow and change over time, and they are more likely to embrace challenges, learn from feedback, and persist in the face of obstacles.
Competencies of a Growth Mindset
To develop a Growth Mindset, students need to focus on the here and now, be comfortable with the uncomfortable, work in a low-stakes environment, connect with themselves and others, take healthy risks, and practice mindfulness. AIEDU helps develop these competencies by creating a playful and accepting atmosphere that reduces stress and encourages authentic engagement allowing failures to be fertilizer in learning.
What is Applied Improvisation in Education?
Applied Improvisation is a technique that originated in the world of theater and has been adapted for use in education. It involves using improv exercises and games to help students develop SEL and Growth Mindset competencies. Christiana Frank Consulting (CFC) offers experts in SEL and defines AIEDU as “a set of principles, practices, and techniques that use improvisation to enhance teaching and learning, build social-emotional skills, and foster creativity and innovation.” CFC also states “AIEDU is a brain/body-based tool supporting authentic, holistic, and neuro learning. Educators and students can practice real-life situations through participation before they occur in the real world. The method creates a responsive classroom, conditions for belonging, and psychological safety.” All of this can be easily embedded directly into school content resulting in increased retention, collaboration, confidence in communicating and the ability to see failure as growth.
Benefits of AIEDU for Educators and Students
So, what are the benefits of using AIEDU in the classroom? For educators, AIEDU can increase the retention of material, improve listening skills, reduce judgmental attitudes, and make the learning process more enjoyable. For students, AIEDU can improve collaboration, creativity, and risk-taking, and help them feel more comfortable expressing themselves in front of others.
Research from Francisco Javier Varela Garcia and Fred “Rusty” Gage has shown that environmental enrichment and learning can lead to neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to change and adapt structurally and functionally. Specifically, Varela Garcia and Gage’s work has focused on the role of environmental enrichment in promoting the growth of new neurons and synaptic connections in the brain, as well as enhancing cognitive function and promoting recovery from injury or disease.
One study by Varela Garcia and colleagues (2004) explored the impact of a stimulating environment on the brain. They found that an enriched environment promoted the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus, a brain region important for learning and memory. In another study, Gage and colleagues (2002) showed that exposure to a stimulating environment increased the production of new neurons in the olfactory bulb, a brain region involved in the sense of smell.
These findings suggest that learning and environmental stimulation can promote neuroplasticity and enhance cognitive function. By creating a stimulating and engaging environment, educators may be able to promote the growth of new neurons and synaptic connections in their students’ brains, leading to improved cognitive function and social-emotional regulation.
Leading neuroscientists, such as Davidson, R.J., & McEwen, B.S (2012) have also conducted research on social influences on neuroplasticity: Stress and interventions to promote well-being. Nature neuroscience, 15(5), 689-695. The study “Social influences on neuroplasticity: Stress and interventions to promote well-being” by Davidson, R. J., and McEwen, B. S., published in Nature Neuroscience in 2012, discusses the impact of social experiences and interventions on the brain’s ability to change, or neuroplasticity, and promote well-being. The authors explore the influence of stress and social support on neuroplasticity, focusing on the effects of mindfulness and empathy training on the brain. The study highlights the importance of social experiences in shaping brain function and behavior, including the regulation of stress and emotional responses. The authors discuss the role of mindfulness and empathy in promoting positive social behavior, emotional regulation, and overall well-being. They suggest that mindfulness and empathy training can lead to changes in brain function and structure, including increased activity in areas associated with emotional regulation and decreased activity in areas associated with stress and anxiety. These studies, while not mentioning AIDEU speak directly to the process of how it works; specifically SEL, mindfulness, a Growth Mindset and empathy training, in promoting well-being and positive social behavior through the promotion of neuroplasticity.
Still looking for proof?
Then there is Dr. Kelly Howe, a professor of theatre at Loyola Marymount University, has conducted research on the impact of improvisational theatre training on social skills, emotional regulation, and empathy. These studies suggest that improvisational theatre training can be an effective tool for promoting social-emotional learning, including the development of empathy and emotional regulation, particularly in educational and therapeutic settings. Dr. Howe’s research has also explored the potential for theatre education to promote social-emotional competencies in pre-service teachers and acting students. Howe, K., & Decker, L. (2016). From the rehearsal room to the classroom: Exploring the impact of theatre education on social-emotional learning. Youth Theatre Journal, 30(1), 36-47. Howe, K. R. (2015). Building Social Emotional Competencies through Applied Improvisation: An Exploratory Study of Pre-Service Teachers. Applied Theatre Researcher, 4, 53-73. Howe, K., & Reid, A. (2014). Rehearsing empathy: Acting students’ experiences of learning through emotion. Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 5(1), 33-47. Howe, K. R. (2013). Applied improvisation and social emotional learning: An exploratory study. The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 18(3), 279-297.
This is where the possibilities and results happen with AIDEU as a growing body of research and assessment supports the use of AIEDU as a powerful tool for developing SEL and Growth Mindset and mindfulness competencies. From the pioneering work of Viola Spolin to the global network of practitioners and educators in the Applied Improv Network, AIEDU has proven to be an effective and fun way to enhance learning and promote well-being in the classroom and beyond. So, why not give it a try and see what improv can do for you and your students?
Are you still not convinced that Applied Improvisation in Education, or AIEDU for short, is the way to go? Well, let me give you some concrete examples of companies and institutions that have found success with Applied Improvisation and AIEDU.
First up, we have Google – yes, even the tech giant has used Applied Improvisation to enhance their team building and collaboration skills. Next, we have the Mayo Clinic, who have incorporated it into their mental health treatment programs. Educational institutions like Harvard University, Stanford University, and even the New York City Department of Education have used this method in their classrooms to develop SEL and Growth Mindset competencies in students. And let’s not forget about KidScape Productions, who have been using AIEDU to teach students from PK-17 since 1999. So, if these successful companies and institutions can do it, why can’t you? And if you need help incorporating AIEDU into your school district, classroom or organization; Christiana Frank Consulting can provide a sustainable approach. Don’t miss out on the fun of learning to how to build confidence in individuals and teams. Reach out for a complimentary discovery session at www.christianafrank.com or www.KidScapeProductions.com
Applied Improvisation in Education (AIEDU) is a powerful and evidence-based technique for developing Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) and Growth Mindset competencies in students. AIEDU promotes authentic, holistic learning, and has been shown to increase retention, collaboration, creativity, and risk-taking while reducing stress and anxiety. The benefits of AIEDU are supported by research and assessment, as well as by the success of companies and institutions such as Google, Mayo Clinic, and Harvard University, who have all used this method to enhance team building and mental health treatment programs. With the help of Christiana Frank Consulting, you can easily incorporate AIEDU into your school district, classroom, or organization, and take your team to new heights. So, why not give it a try and see what improv can do for you and your students? Let’s get improv-ing!
As a learning development and systems consultant, Christiana Frank is dedicated to helping school districts unlock the full potential of their students and educators. With over two decades of experience in applying cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology research to education, mental health, and corporate cultures, Mrs. Frank has developed a strength-based coaching approach that drives real results. By harnessing the power of the latest research and techniques, Christiana Frank is uniquely positioned to help school districts transform their approach to learning and development. Contact her today to learn how she can help your district reach new heights.
Davidson, R.J., & McEwen, B.S. (2012). Social influences on neuroplasticity: Stress and interventions to promote well-being. Nature Neuroscience, 15(5), 689-695.
Howe, K., & Decker, L. (2016). From the rehearsal room to the classroom: Exploring the impact of theatre education on social-emotional learning. Youth Theatre Journal, 30(1), 36-47.
Howe, K. R. (2015). Building Social Emotional Competencies through Applied Improvisation: An Exploratory Study of Pre-Service Teachers. Applied Theatre Researcher, 4, 53-73.
Howe, K., & Reid, A. (2014). Rehearsing empathy: Acting students’ experiences of learning through emotion. Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 5(1), 33-47.
Howe, K. R. (2013). Applied improvisation and social emotional learning: An exploratory study. The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 18(3), 279-297.
Varela Garcia, F. J., & Gage, F. H. (2002). Environmental enrichment and neuroplasticity. In Brain plasticity and behavior (pp. 125-143). Psychology Press.
Varela Garcia, F. J., López-Mascaraque, L., De Carlos, J. A., & Fairén, A. (2004). Synaptic and axonal remodeling in the adult rat brain after chronic hypoxia. Experimental neurology, 187(2), 335-345.