Can we ameliorate bullying behaviors and encourage students to think critically and empathetically through techniques of improvisational theater?
Project or Program Summary
Please provide a summary of the project/program as demonstrated in the case study:
Acting Up! is an improvisational theater residency with the 7th grade students and their classroom teachers at the Mario Umana Academy in East Boston, MA. In partnership with ImprovBoston, one of the leading improv theaters in New England, the program was designed to build an awareness of the different types of bullying, and assist students and staff in developing effective anti-bullying strategies through planning meetings, faculty and student small group workshops, professional development, and an interactive performance presentation.
Portfolio Purpose and Rational
Portfolio Purpose and Rationale: Why has this case study been submitted?:
Although we had a strong pilot program in place, the project was not executed as we intended. Therefore, we feel this case study will provide good insights and lessons learned for the future.
What are your overall conclusions regarding the documentation gathered for this case study?:
When this project began, our initial intention was document the sessions through photography, note-taking, and various forms of assessment. Early on, we decided to add an important piece to this by developing a "handbook" of takeaways and tactics for classroom teachers to utilize after the program concluded. However, since the program was cut short, we were not able to collect all documentation that we intended to. For the future, we will consider that teachers are often looking for resources tools to be developed after a programs conclusion so that they can implement tactics, strategies, and activities into their pedagogy.
What conclusions have you drawn from the responses to the assessment tools you have developed?:
After each session, teachers and students were asked to give feedback on what worked or did not and how to shape the program moving forward. This tactic was well received and helped to create collaboration as the program progressed. However, since we were unable to finish the program, we were unable to administer final evaluations to teachers and students. Therefore, we do not know what impact this program had. From our ongoing conversations with the school, we know that there is still a need and interest for this type of program moving forward and that they would like to try again.
Answering the Inquiry Question
Back to the initial inquiry question, can it be answered?:
We believe it can with proper program implementation and more sessions over a longer period of time. We also believe that if this program were to be administered every year to the 7th grade it would positively impact the overall culture of the school.
Conclusions: What Was Learned
What was learned?:
We learned that the students, who are often fed anti-bullying tactics from authority figures, are much more engaged in discussing bullying when they are exploring it creatively, connecting personally to adults own experiences of bullying, and being asked questions about their experiences and solutions. We also learned that teachers welcome a safe space to discuss among themselves the many forms of bullying that happen within a school: student to student, teacher to student, teacher to teacher, and administrator to teacher (or vice versa).
Conclusions: What Can Be Done Differently In The Future
What can be done differently in the future?:
Programmatically, it is difficult for us to speculate what can be done differently in the future because we did not get to complete the entire program. It was cut in half due to scheduling challenges. In short, this program had to be rescheduled twice due to forces outside of our control (the first being the tragedy of Newtown, CT coinciding with our kickoff assembly performance and the second being a major blizzard that cancelled school for several days). As a result of rescheduling, we began much later in the year and were unable to complete it because of the school's testing schedule. In the future, we will discuss backup dates in our planning to ensure that this doesn't happen again.
Conclusions: How Will This Inform The Work Moving Forward
How will this inform the work moving forward?:
We believe that we had a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and buy-in from the school while we were planning this program. We strongly believe in the program's curriculum, but see the important role that proper administration plays in being able to realize a program fully. In the future, we will continue to working closely with teachers, administrators, artists, and students to inform the curriculum, but we will also be more assertive in assuring scheduling options for the program.
Core Content Standards
Speaking and Listening:
Comprehension and Collaboration
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
21st Century Learning Skills
Learning and Innovation / Creativity and Innovation:
Work Creatively with Others
Learning and Innovation / Critical Thinking and Problem Solving:
Use Systems Thinking
Make Judgments and Decisions
Learning and Innovation / Communication and Collaboration:
Collaborate with Others
Life and Career / Flexibility and Adaptability:
Adapt to Change
National Core Arts Standards
National Core Arts Standards: