Over the last 5 years, my colleagues and I at the Snaps Project have made discoveries about how to help young people translate knowledge about stress management (which is plentiful and available through endless sources) into practical life activities that work for them.

Using Improv for Stress Management in Schools

Here’s one of our ‘secret’ ingredients.  We create improv scenes in which students can coach each other in how to manage stress, even if they don’t yet know how to do that.  They typically use some of the tools we’ve shared with them (which I will outline later this week) and create some of their own. Here is an example:

This past spring, we led our TeamPlay for Less Stress program with 8th grade students at a public school in Brooklyn.  In the third session, one of our staff burst into the room playing a middle school student who was beginning to fail school, needed money but his mother wouldn’t give it to him, had friends who were fighting over the same girl and bad mouthing each other, and was having trouble sleeping.  Students interviewed the “young man” to learn as much  about what was troubling him as possible and coached him.

Some of the suggestions the students gave were:

  • Find someone to speak to – like a teacher or a counselor.  Maybe you need a therapist for yourself.
  • Don’t keep trying to get stuff from your mother.
  • Tell your friends how this was impacting on you.  Maybe take a break from them.

and more…

Moving from a Competitive to a Collaborative Classroom Environment

The usually competitive and individualistic environment of the classroom can be transformed into a collaborative performatory activity (in the Vygotskian sense, as in performing what you don’t yet know how to do) in which social- emotional issues can be spoken about and regarded with care.


 Finding more meaningful ways to communicate with, provide guidance to, and support young people is an age-old challenge for adults.  A challenge made more daunting by the unprecedented social and economic uncertainty we are all living with today. How can educators be there for young people when we ourselves are often unsure of what to say or do?  We have found that, far from being a problem, uncertainty can be used in the creation of vibrant partnerships between young people and adults.  How have we done this?

Play! Using theatrical improvisation, a methodology based on careful listening, attentiveness to others and not knowing, we have developed partnerships with young people that are supportive of co-creating learning environments and strong parent/child relationships.  This work has been done in K – 8 school-based programs in which students, parents and teachers were taught the skills of theatrical improvisation and have been empowered to respond inventively to each other and forge collaborative relationships.


Dark Matter, The Human Genome, and the Wisdom of Not Knowing

May 2, 2010

 As things stand today, we know more about the planet Mars than we do about the human  brain. However, if you pay attention to the phenomenal revolution in brain resaersch discoveries that just a few years ago were considered the stuff of science fiction, and if you learned about that brain research and learned to apply techniques […]

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A Playful Challenge to Educators

April 25, 2010

When you look at the stars in the night sky, the light from those stars has taken millions of years to reach you. Many of those stars died long ago, and the light from new ones hasn’t reached us yet. The night sky is like a timescope, offering a picture of what once existed thousands […]

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Improvising a New Brain

April 24, 2010

Perhaps one of the most difficult ideas to accept coming from today’s neuroscience is that the brain is far from a static, unchangeable information processor, locked into its ‘functional parameters’ by software drownloaded into the system long ago. In fact, the brain is a constantly changing, always evolving organ of perceptive creation (or creative perception if you […]

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The Emerging Good News

April 22, 2010

My career working with others has covered teaching, crisis intervention, and alternative dispute resolution for both large and small groups. I’ve organized personal and staff retreats, and designed trainings for professionals working in education, health care, and the criminal justice system. Over the last 25 years I’ve offering individual counseling to people, helped them resolve […]

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Mindful Education and The Uncertainty Ahead

April 20, 2010

It impossible these days to read the paper or watch the news, and not be confronted by a litany of stories documenting our shabby treatment of one another. Whether the report centers on one of the self-absorbed  ‘titans of finance’, or a simpler local atrocity, we are reminded daily that, one way or another, people […]

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The Relevance of Neural Research

April 16, 2010

       Everyone is aware these days that something is brewing in the field of brain research. Terms like Neurogenesis, The Social Brain, and Mirror Neurons are increasingly finding their way into the popular press, and a quick google search of Neuroplasticity yields over a quarter of a million links.. Public television fund raisers offer brain improvement […]

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