One of my most memorable teaching experiences as a graduate student came not while teaching at Berkeley but while volunteering as an instructor for San Quentin’s Prison University Project. What made that experience so memorable was in part that for the two semesters that I taught a class, I got to work closely with co-instructors. We defined the lesson plans together and make modifications as necessary. I even co-taught a class with one of them, which felt magical.
The joy of that experience returned this past weekend at Berkeley. One of my former professors had invited me to lead the teaching staff for one of his classes through improv exercises, and I needed some help. A friend and fellow improviser recently back from the iO intensive accepted, so I shared what I’d come up with so far and invited her to add to it. She asked some insightful questions about the intended audience and suggested we chat about the plan.
That chat felt like the best form of improv, where ideas and thoughts were yes-anded into a lesson plan that we discovered together. There were a few exercises on the plan that were new to me, and I was excited to see how they would play. When it came time for the class, we made modifications to the plan based on how the class was doing, conferred during the break on how to make the rest of the class more successful, and implemented the changes in the second half. I was so pleased with the result and how trusting in another person and their ideas had led to something that was better than anything I could have come up with on my own. The class seemed to appreciate it, too.