BJE Training Uses Improv to Help Educators Improve Communication Skills

Having difficult conversations – with parents, colleagues, employees and supervisors – is part of any early childhood director’s experience. Learning how to successfully navigate these conversations so that each party feels heard, and progress can be made, is critical.

BJE recently welcomed learning designer Becca Barish to the Early Childhood Directors Network for an afternoon workshop. Becca is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and a facilitator for Second City Works, the professional development arm of the iconic Second City theater. She uses her background in social work and improvisation to motivate connection, empathy, vulnerability and resilience in the workplace.

The group engaged in a series of activities in which participants were forced to think on their feet. In one, a member of the group was asked to propose an idea for an event, and all the other participants were instructed to provide negative feedback. Afterwards, the group discussed what it felt like to be the givers and recipients of this type of feedback. Later, they tried similar exercises using more constructive responses and discussed how different the experience was under those conditions.

Abby Mars, president of BJE’s Early Childhood Directors Network, explained, “Improvisation is the art of responding to things that are unplanned. This is something ECC Directors are quite used to doing but never more so than this year. What a pleasure - and what fun! - it was to work with Becca who led us through improv exercises that honed our improv skills and reminded us that listening is one of the most powerful tools in our Director toolbox. It was a terrific afternoon filled with humor and learning.” 

For more information about BJE’s work with early childhood educators, contact Early Childhood Education Specialist Carly Rosenstein at (323) 761-8623, or [email protected].