On the first day of class, our bright eyed professor, Dr. Dudeck, asked us to move all the tables towards the back and side walls in order to make space to form a big human circle. She enthusiastically instructed us to either, “zip”, palms touching together as you point towards the person on your side as fast as possible, or “zap”, palms touching and pointing towards someone across from you, or “boingee”, jump up with your hands in the air and reject the command! I’ve never played a game like this with my peers so in the midst of my awkwardness, I laughed out loud! It felt a little unnatural at first and to be quite frank a far cry from my expectations for this master’s improvisational leadership class. As soon as I got the hang of it, she added two more elements including, “groovalicious”, where you dance in your spot and “freak-out,” where you run across and switch spots with someone. The energy in the class was amusing! The class inhibited a space that engaged all my senses and allowed me to use my thinking and creative brain and entire physical body. This was just the beginning of the class and it continued to get even more exciting as the session went on.
I took this class in interterm, as an elective for my Master’s in Leadership Development and it proved to be a great choice. For the first time in my life, I felt like I could have continued this class for at least another few weeks. Dr. Dudeck facilitated the class in a fashion that was exciting, energizing, and great for both introverts and extroverts alike. Dr. Dudeck has a background in theatre, extensive education, knowledge and impro experience which made the learning that much more valuable. She is extremely inspiring and courageous. The following is a comment from Dr. Dudeck, “working with this bright and benevolent group of master’s students over the Interterm has been one of my favorite experiences at Chapman. They courageously engaged with improvisational theatre tools that will undoubtedly empower them in their future work as leaders and educators. In fact, most have already put into practice their newly acquired impro skills with positive and inspiring results!”
Many of my previous classes have been instructionally similar, where you listen to a lecture, read literature, participate in dialogue and write a paper. This class was uniquely designed to encompass the standard curriculum but with an added dose of fun. This made the lessons more sustainable and engaging. Even though these impro games may seem silly at first, they have significant learning outcomes; such as attuning, engaging, and using your whole body as a tool to do things with passion and purpose. I also learned new leadership skills such as utilizing my voice, tone, pitch and entire physical self with every relational interaction. In addition, I learned great techniques to be an active listener, which is an important skill for everyone to have regardless of your profession. This class awakened my senses by utilizing games that required me to be present, listen, and create; three fundamental characteristics of the world’s greatest leaders. Impro is a progressive method for leaders and it’s the future for business development and training. It is worth taking if you want to have a little fun while learning in grad school. -Almas Shewa