Where Improv Meets Education
Almost 12 years ago, I was hired at ET Booth Middle School to teach 7th grade Social Studies. I still remember my Principal telling me that I was going to love the guy in the other half of my "learning cottage". I was skeptical. I naturally am. Then I met Joe Lemmo, and I was positive that there was no way in the world I was going to like this guy. I considered myself an athlete and somewhat introverted. Joe did not seem like any of those things. (Although I did find out later he played hockey for his school in college...so I guess he was more of an athlete than me.) Joe was extremely outgoing and dressed like a hipster before dressing like a hipster was cool. Well...it didn't take long to find out that I was completely wrong. I did love working with the guy in the other half of my "learning cottage". We didn't just become friends, we became best of friends. I think this is where I need a Gif of us skipping down the street holding hands or something. We hung out at school, outside of school, and I was a groomsman in his wedding. Not only is Joe awesome and a great friend, he is an unbelievable teacher. He is a compassionate teacher who cares about his students’ success both in and outside of his classroom. He then blends that passion as an educator with his passion for Improv to create an environment where students actually want to come to his classroom. I am not just a hype guy, hoping that you will read more about Joe's story below. I have actually seen Joe in action. I have seen him make education fun, and I have walked away thinking...how can I incorporate more of what Joe is doing into my own teaching. I am happy that I get to call Joe my friend and I am so excited for you to check out more of what he is doing to blend Improv and education. Without any further hype, I will let Joe take it away...
Where Improv Meets Education
By Joe Lemmo
When I was invited to audition for a local improv troupe just over a decade ago, I would have never predicted that today I’d not only be a troupe director, improv teacher, and semi-professional improviser, but also post videos about the beautiful intersection of teaching, parenting, and improv.
I’ve regularly come across connections between the tenets of improvisation and the core foundational elements of being a superior educator
My day job is an elementary English/Social Studies teacher, and I’ve been doing that gig for 21 years now. And I suppose now I realize more than ever why I love being in a classroom! It’s the live audience! I am, and always have been, a performer at heart. Though, I didn’t star in any theatrical productions as a child, or even participate in any semblance of theatre in high school, I did constantly entertain my family and friends with situational comedy and impersonations -based usually on character traits of my family and friends.
As my interest in the craft of improvisation has grown, along with my library of books related to the subject, I’ve regularly come across connections between the tenets of improvisation and the core foundational elements of being a superior educator (side note, I’m not saying I’m a superior educator, I’m saying I think I know what it takes to be one, and I’m striving to do that!) Skills such as: listening, building trust, taking risks, exploring emotion, living in the moment, and being honest are just some of the few components of great improvisation that are also essential to being a quality educator and an engaging student!
Although most teachers might not share my love of performing in the classroom, they may be willing to use some simple exercises in the classroom to help their students explore their emotions, build trust with their classmates, and take some risks! I hope my short, honest videos are helpful to educators, parents, and anyone else out there!
Where to find Joe's Improv Videos
If you are looking for new ways to engage your students, be sure to check out Joe's YouTube Channel and be sure to subscribe and turn on those notifications so you don't miss one of his videos. They are short and even give you an Improv exercise you can try out with your students! Check out two of my favorite below!
Mistakes Are Actually Gifts!