Why Improvisation Is a Key Skill All Teachers Should Have

Educators from across the world spend time every day creating lesson plans with the aim of helping their students migrate from one year to the next following a specific curriculum.

Unfortunately, as with all things, plans often don’t go as they should, and teaching is no exception. Not only this, sticking to a specific plan all the time limits creative freedom within the classroom. That’s where improvisation comes in.

What is improvisation?

Improvisation is the act of using the information you already have in a new combination for a specific purpose. It’s particularly important for teachers to master this skill because every classroom is different from one another. Aside from the fact that you may have to cover for another teacher, you might also find that your usual students don’t engage with the lesson you’ve planned.

In these instances, you have to be able to act in accordance with the situational requirements of your classroom. But, improvisation in teaching has a broader description than in other circumstances. The improvisation of teaching should include everything from making spontaneous decisions to effective problem-solving. This should also be combined with concrete value-based instructional teaching.

When it comes to improvisation in teaching, there are conditions that need to be set. This means lessons must maintain a level of structure and alignment with the school curriculum in order for children to learn in a progressive and developmental way.

There are various ways you can use improvisation in your classroom. The first and most obvious example is when you’re asked to teach a completely new and different class than the one you normally do.

The benefits of using improvisation in the classroom

Aside from allowing you to adapt to new situational requirements within a classroom, improvisation can also foster collaboration during group work. Instead of setting roles to individual members, you can let your students step up when a new idea is needed. This not only allows them to work better as part of a team but also encourages autonomy and can improve confidence.

Moreover, improvisation can help highlight multiple points of view within a classroom. By opening up the room and allowing for extra creative freedom, you’re creating a safe space for students to share their opinions and ideas. This new level of collaboration is a stepping stone for intellectual and emotional growth as they spend more time speculating, reasoning, and predicting outcomes which, in turn, can increase a student’s problem-solving skills.

How does improvisation fit in the classroom?

There are various ways you can use improvisation in your classroom. The first and most obvious example is when you’re asked to teach a completely new and different class than the one you normally do. This is especially true if you have to teach a different subject as well. While there is no one size fits all solution to this scenario, you must be able to adapt to your new environment through regular practice during your everyday lessons.

With the above in mind, research suggests that improvisation is seen as a relatively frequent practice that can be segmented into three different groups of relationships. The first one includes teachers who only create a very general plan for their lesson before entering the classroom. The second group includes those who have a plan but find themselves altering it as the lesson proceeds. And, the third is teachers who go into their lesson with a plan that also allows for sequences of improvisation.

The type of improvisation you choose differs based on your individual teaching style. That said, effective improvisation should always support students in achieving the established competencies set out in your lesson plan. The aim of improvisation is to challenge students to think for themselves while also facilitating the process to keep them actively engaged. By working with a team of professionals with experience teaching a variety of students in different schools, you can learn more about improvisation, thus further engaging your students at every level.