Category Archives: High School

How to Start Listening Better!

We’re back with another video tip – and this week, we’re starting a 4-part series on listening and conversation.

Check out how to start listening better. Hint: Stop thinking about dinner. =)

YesAnd Tube Trailer + New Video!

Hi all, Jen here!

I know we said we’d move to bi-weekly videos in the new year for me to focus on writing, and in reality, I also wanted to up our tech game/quality of the videos before we moved forward.

Guess what? I have a motivated drive (duh) and a fantastic husband (also duh) and between the two, I ended up upping the tech game AND setting up the new studio in no time.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing! I’ll keep at it here, on guest blogs, LinkedIn and a super secret cool announcement coming soon. For now, enjoy our new trailer AND video today. In our video, we’re thinking about how to introduce yourself – because let’s admit it, it’s a difficult task. Enjoy the trailer and tips on introductions, and remember to YES AND today!

-Jen

How to Introduce Yourself!

Teen Programs: 3 Improv Activities That Will Give Your Students Skills For The Job Hunt

By Engager Lawrese Brown

I recently had the opportunity to facilitate a workshop, “Improv For Job Seekers,” to a group of high school graduates. When preparing my curriculum, I thought carefully and critically about the skills that enable people to job hunt effectively, because those skills would direct the improv activities of the session.

arts-connection-teensMost students selected the session because “improv makes you quicker on your feet and that’s important when interviewing.” While communication skills are definitely a key piece of the job hunt, I also wanted students to enhance the less obvious, but no less important skills that would help them land a job. Skills like listening, creativity, attitude, collaboration and problem solving. This article highlights 3 key activities you can use to help your students hone these skills.

Activity #1: Last Word Response (Job Hunting Skill: Listening)

Instructions: “Who would say they are a good listener?” Most students did, and many nodded their heads in agreement. “This game Last Word Response, how well you listen from start to finish. In order to succeed at this game, you have to remain fully present because your sentence or phrase must start with the last word the person before you used.

For example, one student may start by saying a general phrase or sentence such as “I love cats,” the next person then starts their sentence with the last word of the previous person’s sentence and could say something like “Cats are cool pets,” the next person could say, “pets are named after people,” etc. Uh oh. For most of us – professionals young and mature – we’d make a case that listening is paying attention when someone else is speaking, but we’d also readily admit that while someone is speaking we are also thinking of what we want to say.

Takeaway: Sometimes we can get away with not listening until the very last word, yet other times (like when the hiring manager asks a two-part question in an interview – “What’s your greatest weakness? How have you been improving in that area?”) – it can cost you. The students – when they weren’t caught not listening – said it best, “when you actively listening its easier to make connections with the speaker,” and that’s critical when interviewing, networking and communicating.

Activity #2: Blind Line-Up (Job Hunting Skills: Creativity, Problem Solving)

These days’ companies want all their professionals to demonstrate creativity, because that quality is at the root of innovation. Companies want professionals who are going to push them to do things differently than they’ve done them before and that’s the
exact purpose of the game, Blind Line-Up.

In this game, students are given three team tasks, such as lining-up in alphabetical order by first names, lining up by the #of minutes in their commute this a.m., or lining up in height order. Sounds easy right? The students are them prompted to complete the task in one of the three ways: with their eyes closed, no talking, or my favorite – with their eyes closed and no talking.

Takeaways: Many students incredulously inquired “how can we do this with our eyes closed?” All professionals can relate to feeling both confusion and resignation when faced with a new challenge or trying something for the first time. Yet, somehow – despite the uncertainty, lack of resources, stipulations, and roadblocks- we get it done, just as the students did. How? Because we tried, adjusted, and tried again. The students didn’t succeed at every task the first time, and that’s good because immediate success wasn’t the point. As students noted, “it was about finding new strategies,” “being resourceful” and ensuring “everyone was on the same page or using the same method to communicate.” The latter is what enables us to approach and solve problems in new ways.

Activity #3: Pass The Gesture (Job Skills: Collaboration, Attitude, Initiative)

Ask any high school student or professional about group projects and teamwork and there’s a collective sigh. Because of rough experiences, “some people are lazy and don’t do work,” “its easier by myself because I have high standards,” and “there can be a lot of miscommunication,” – many of us have decided that’s it better to execute any new project alone.

The only problem with that is everything about succeeding in a job has to do with how well you work with others. And that’s why being able to work in a team and being a good team player is important.

In the game, Pass The Gesture, each student says a word/phrase (ex. Yes, excellent, BAM, woo, etc.) and does an accompanying gesture (stomp your foot, snap your hands, spin, etc.). If student #1 starts by saying wow and throwing their hands up then each student in the circle has to do exactly that, say wow and throw their hands up, until we’re back at student #1. Student #2 then initiates a new, different gesture and word that everyone must repeat around the circle.

Takeaway: What inevitably happens is someone does a gesture that is too big, too much, too new and maybe even too complex (ex. Dougie, headstand, etc.) that other individuals shy away from fully attempting it. For example, instead of saying wow with the bright, confident tone of the student who started it, we let out an unenthusiastic, low “wow” or if we’re led to lift our hands way above our heads it’s tempting to lift them just above our shoulders.

hudson-river-museum-teens-1When these moments happen, I ask, “How much more confident do you feel as a leader when you know your team supports you?” Or “how much better is it working on a team when we know others are as fully committed to doing the tasks as well as we are?” Its those things – being able to rely on others and being fully committed to a common result that build trust. Also, how we approach something demonstrates our attitude and our attitude is critical to our success. Would you hire someone who complained whenever the company had to adjust or pivot on a project or would you hire the person who was enthusiastic and demonstrated a “can-do” attitude? As one student noted during their final reflection, “attitude is everything.”

December Photo Recap

Check out some great snaps from a handful of December workshops!

DARIEN LIBRARY:
DARIEN
GOODWILL INDUSTRIES – TRIAD AREA:
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IMG_7860
HUDSON RIVER MUSEUM:
HUD

HUD2
JEWISH MUSEUM:
FullSizeRender-2 FullSizeRender
JFK HIGH SCHOOL:
IMG_7796 IMG_7848

Teen Facilitator December ’15 Update

The teens focused on the TEACHING aspect of improv this session, versus the whole package. Teaching improv isn’t easy, especially when you are teaching people who don’t want to be actors. Our teens pushed through their own challenges as well as the challenge of working with friends. The teens are looking at walls while speaking, because we’re working on their personal teaching style. All of them rocked the weekend, and we’re so excited for our January and February workshops!

IMAG0382 20151206_105955 IMAG0375  IMAG0364 IMAG0369

Jen note: Since the conception of this program, it’s been a learning experience for me and the team. We’ve realized our way of leading reflections IS really special, and hard to teach. It’s something the teens will be working on in the next few months, and a focus of our program – but it’s definitely what makes EE and our teachers special! Excited for 2016, and the growth and expansion of this program to NC!

Our awesome design guru Shoshana Torn has created our new program logo! Soon to be on t-shirts galore!
EE-design-teens-FINAL

Our Teens’ Off-Broadway Debut: Support #Improv & #ArtsEd

Mather2015-Edit

We’ve been with Mather Building Arts and Craftsmanship High School for almost two years–and we’ve officially gone from novice improvisers to off-Broadway!

On May 7th, these students are putting on a show for fellow students, teachers, and family at The Playroom Theatre in Manhattan. Since we started working with them, we’ve seen huge improvements in respect, listening, teamwork. Above all, our students have turned into talented and hilarious improvisers.

Because of some incredible supporters, we got our space and pizza that night fully funded within 24 hour–but we aren’t stopping there! If you’d like to give to the Mather performance, all proceeds above $500 will go towards scripts, props and costumes for next year for their very first play!

Visit our GoFundMe page to donate.

To further prove our point: the above photo was taken after we told the students how 30 amazing individuals believed in them–enough to fund their very own performance. Let’s give them even more and help them realize how brave they are performing improv Off-Broadway. Every little bit helps, so skip a coffee today and “Yes, And!” their arts education.