Friday, December 2, 2016

How The 4 Rules of Improv Are The 4 Rules of Inclusion...Maybe The 4 Rules of Life

Recently I read Tina Fey's Bossypants for my book club.
I don't usually like to read autobiographies of celebrities...
but Tina Fey offered some lightness and laughs that I have been sorely needing,
so I did what I've been doing since I was a little girl...
escaped down the rabbit hole of story.l

Tina Fey offers all sorts of insights and observations that are pretty spot on in our crazy world.
One of my favorites is when she speaks about her dad, both a Korean War veteran and a firefighter, who was no nonsense and sensible at every turn.

This quote as she considers what she can do when parenting her tiny daughter, Alice,
 was a classic insight into the insanity of our times:
"How can I give her what Don Fey gave me? The gift of anxiety. The fear of getting into trouble.
The knowledge that while you are loved, you are not above the law.
The World Wide Parental Anxiety System is failing if this many of us have made sex tapes." 


What the heck is going on?
Do we need a world-wide Don Fey moment?
Sure feels like it.
Maybe we can all get called into the principal's office, 
reconsider our transgressions and straighten the hell up.

But, the part that made me become a Fan For Life is Tina Fey's 4 Rules of Improv.

Let's start with Rule #1 - SAY YES 

This is a pretty great place to start.
Just imagine if you began with an open mind every single day.

Mom, can I climb that tree?
Can you help me out?
Can that student be in your classroom?

In education - and especially at IEP time - (which is the Individualized Educational Plan for a student with identified learning needs - go buy yourself a lotto ticket if you have never heard of such a thing and thought it meant I Eat Pancakes) - teachers and specialists sit around a table and ask burning questions, like, how much time can the student be in the regular classroom.

Cheat sheet answer: ALL THE TIME

Yes, we can figure it out.
Yes, we can do this.

What if we started with yes in our lives??
What if we lived an open-hearted life?

Rule #2: It's not just Yes...

Add something of your own.
This is huge.
Because sometimes when you say yes, you are just dragging your feet.
You don't really mean it.
So it's a half-hearted yes.

The YES, AND forces the issue and asks you to be better than that.
The YES, AND asks you to be ALL IN.

You have to put some of yourself out there.
If you're in an IEP meeting and they ask, can this student be in your room...
if you are following Rule #2, you must say,
"Yes, and..." and create a real path to being fully in that room.

Tina Fey goes further, she reminds us: "Don't be afraid to contribute. Always make sure you are adding something to the discussion. Your initiations are worthwhile."

Meaning, you're better than the simple yes.
The lazy, wimpy well, ok.


Rule #3: Make Statements
This means, don't ask questions all the time.
When you ask questions, you are putting pressure on someone else to come up with all of the answers.


Get creative.
Problem solve.
Think like a kid.

Don't be the person who is just sitting around pointing out all of the obstacles.
As Tina Fey so clearly says, "That person is a drag."
Can I get an Amen?

We've all been around that person.
The It's-Always-Been-Done-This-Way person...
Or the I'm-Not-So-Sure person...

Schools like to reach consensus on difficult decisions...
but those side-line questioners make that nearly impossible...
which means things never get done...
or students wait on the sidelines hoping to get a chance.

Find a way to figure it out.

Rule #4: There are NO mistakes
This is the Growth Mindset in its stealth fighter jet mode.

If we come from the vantage point that there are no mistakes,
all we see are opportunities.
Or as Tina Fey likes to remind us: Beautiful, Happy Accidents.

Adults get good at avoiding moments that are risky.
We opt out.
Or say no.

What if we stepped out of our comfort zone and found a way to enjoy our mistakes?
Now, that could be life-changing.
Now imagine a child watching you...
learning from you...
realizing that this is where the growth is.

The sweet spot of learning.

Besides, it just makes for a happier workplace and a happier home.

It's not so serious.
Take a chill pill.

Put them all together and I'm thinking you have a great life mantra...
or at the very least a guide to improv,
AND a guide to inclusion in schools.

We need more people to say yes.
Laugh a little.
Open your heart.
Be one of those people.

We need you now more than ever.

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