Check out some great snaps from a handful of December workshops!
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!
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!
Three years ago, I started EE thinking it would be a nice nod to my solo career – and that’s it. Nothing more than a name that would be a way to sum up the scope of my freelance work. I remember my first public workshop – it sold out, but I didn’t charge people until they got there and half of them didn’t show up. I had a pieced together website that I made myself (shudder) and I was asking friends and coworkers to be in photos so I had some appearance of stability. Literally anything to look bigger than the imposter-syndrome ridden ex-actor that was trying to figure out how she fit in to museums and education.
The three years following were great, good, ok, tearful, rough, rewarding and stressful. Up until this past June, I was also working as a museum educator, building EE on the side. I jumped on every travel engagement and job, worked for free and for photos and reviews. When I had more jobs than hours in the day, I started to hire my friends. Fired some of them. Learned a lot and got taken advantage of a lot, but didn’t sleep a lot – I was answering emails past midnight and trying to figure out how to do a business. Some people thought what I was doing was ridiculous – I distinctly remember overhearing a conversation at a museum I was working at as an educator, and two managers were making fun of EE and me. I’ve lost friends, business relationships, and personal relationships. The business side of business is hard enough – I actually think the personal side is much harder. Few people understand that you ALWAYS have to be working to some degree. I completely get why 75% of businesses close in the first three years, and it isn’t all financial. This is not and has not been easy, and won’t ever be easy. I was just telling my partner last night that I sometimes envy his working for someone else. Being a boss is hard, being an effective and good boss is harder and being your own boss on top of that is insanity.
That being said, it HAS been so very worth it. I’ve built this amazing company, and I’m finally getting over my imposter syndrome and owning the fact that EE is pretty badass. We help a lot of people in a lot of ways, and we’ve done some cool stuff – and I just keep thinking about what next. I don’t like to dwell in successes – I see them much like I did when I was an actor. Get job, tell everyone I got job, leverage job for next job. Same thing with EE – get a job, speaking arrangement, press – take it, share it and use it to get something bigger. Build a program and then think, what next.
My favorite part in the last three years? I not only get to find and collaborate with like-minded folks, I also get to surround myself with people who are incredible at things I struggle with. I really think this is where people make mistakes in business – you should always surround yourself with people that do things better than you. It not only makes you better, but it allows you to focus on your skills – and they can focus on the skills they’ve mastered. And then next thing you know, you have a community of people that are invested and have ownership in your baby. And it’s not just a nod to a solo career – it’s a mission.
It’s been a heck of a ride, and I and we would NOT be here without some very key people. Starting from a seed of an idea from a friend to lead a presentation skills workshop at the Brooklyn Museum – thanks Adelia Gregory – to people believing in me, EE and the good of improv above all things – thanks Sharon Vatsky, Hannah Jack, and Michelle Lopez. It’s all about a team incredibly skilled educators who I trust with the mission, that see it out and take ownership – thanks David Armstrong, Andrea Kamins, Don Waisanen, Jill Frutkin, Lawrese Brown, Kayla Rivera, Minna Taylor. It’s the newest of the new in the “stuff I don’t do well and need help with” – thanks Shaelyn Amaio – and the lady behind all of the organizational aspects of EE – thank you SO MUCH Erin Badenhop Moncada.
It’s all about the unwavering support from my absolutely incredible group of friends and family – so THANK YOU, David Armstrong, Angelina Salgado, Nick Pavlik, Shoshana Torn, Rachel Ropeik, and Mike Murawski for constantly saying “HEY YOU CAN DO THIS.” And it’s very much about the strength I’ve recently found to do this as my career, and the support and love from my partner Alex Brown.
And it’s all about every last one of our students, corporate clients, museums, schools, and organizations. Thank you so much for all of your support and business in the last three years.
So stay tuned, because we are far from done here. To all the Yes, And, all the AaahhhOOOgah and all of the What Next.
As you may have read recently, our fearless leader is moving to Winston-Salem! While things will continue as normal (and continue to grow!), here in NYC, we are delighted to begin offering a full calendar of classes through our North Carolina branch. Classes start in September!
You can find our brand, spanking new North Carolina class page HERE, with event details and registration links!
And don’t forget, we would love to come to your city! Contact Us for information on bringing our workshops to your company/institution/school.
Thanks for going on this improv journey with us! “Yes, and…” to new endeavors and new friends! AaahhhOOOgah!!
Our founder Jen headed down South to Austin, Texas for SXSWedu 2015– the premiere conference for the future of education. After many sessions and workshops, below are three main takeaways that any educator can utilize. In addition to these thoughts, make sure to check out each session’s hashtag for more thoughts on teaching today.
This was my first dive into design thinking! Coming from an improv-background, I was surprised to see similarities with an improv-based module of thinking. One key similarity has to do with truthful listening: to be successful in improv you need to be a good listener.
In a decidedly nontraditional route, I went to an EdCamp for an alternative approach to conferencing. The professional development went down in sessions crowdsourced and implemented that same day by participants. (Showing that improvisation can occur when you are willing to be flexible and take risks!)
Know your audience. Improvisers are particularly attuned to their environment–making sure each joke or skit is tailored to the audience and not the performer. In this session, we connected that idea with the principles of visual thinking. Many students need a visual element in order to learn effectively. By knowing their audience, educators can develop an accessible for their visually-oriented students: creating sketch notes, using photography, and showing video. This way, students can learn how to synthesize information in their own way and connect with it meaningfully.
The Engaging Educator was assigned a special hashtag for our individual SXSWedu workshop. Thanks to individual success of the program, we’ve decided to keep on using the #EdImprov tag to showcase exemplary examples of improv and education!
Take a look at the links for ongoing conversations with the session’s hashtag or website, because all great ideas can continue to “yes, and…” into the future.