Using Improv to Teach Kindness to Socially-Challenged Students

Socially-challenged or not, we are ALL wired to be selfish. Taking care of ourselves is how we’ve survived as a species. Taking care of each other is how we build community and enter heart-based living. Anybody can learn how to be kind. Improv is one way to teach this social emotional concept while having fun!

Take the improv technique of gift-giving. This sets your scene partner up for success. You give a “gift” by saying something that they can use to develop their character or make the scene come to life. You’ve given the other actor a role and an actionable step to take. They can just walk into that character. Easy peasy. Gift-giving is kindness in action.

An Example

If my improv partner begins a scene saying, “I didn’t know it would be this hot.” I could respond, “Yeah, it’s really hot today, and I hate the heat.” Even though I agreed and added on (Yes, and…), I didn’t drop off any goodies for her to unpack.

If I reply instead, “It’s scorching hot! Good thing you brought along the air-conditioned beach blanket you invented that is selling like crazy all over the world.” I’ve given my partner four gifts: an identity as an inventor and a wealthy entrepreneur, the suggestion that the setting could be at a beach, and the air-conditioned beach blanket we can lie on to experience the ultimate cooling on a blisteringly hot day.

Teaching our students this improv technique of giving “gifts” provides the opportunity to practice being generous and considerate when interacting with their scene partners. This trains their brains to go beyond automatic responses into a thoughtful, kind realm where “gifts” are bestowed when interacting. Tis the season!

To reinforce this concept, I have the perfect game for your students called “Knock Knock” to play that I’ll be sending out in my next email. Want to be on that list? Click here to sign up.

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