Let the Mission Guide You

I have been at the Boys and Girls Club now for a week. I’m slowly converting the old art room into a theatre space. For now I will save reporting on the nitty-gritty of my work there for later. That said, I’m struck by how the mission and vision of the Club is really impacting my work.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of America states their mission to be:

To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.

There’s nothing in the mission that explicitly mentions the arts or education. The focus, instead, is on the youth — much like I articulated in another post. When I read the mission, I think of everything I know (and what I am still learning) about positive youth development and social/emotional learning.I’m not there to teach academic content, or even to teach theatre. I’m there to use theatre as one way to nurture the development of these young people into “productive, caring, and responsible citizens.”

Perhaps this could be considered Rule #8 for teaching artists (after the 7 Rules): Let the Mission Guide You.

I’m coming to see that no matter how I am experimenting and growing my work in this new position, that mission (and my understanding of it) shapes my choices in lesson plans, down to the individual games and activities. (Look for my upcoming series of posts on using the Responsive Classroom Approach after school, based on what I’m doing at BGCMP.) Combining positive youth development, social/emotional learning, and performing arts creates a unique environment. It’s playful, but with a purpose: framing theatre as a rehearsal for the everyday, and the challenges of becoming a well-rounded adult. From storytime with my elementary students to scene work with my middle and high schoolers, I’m keeping the mission in the forefront of my mind.

I’m asking myself two questions. One, “what great things can I do for kids today?” Two, “how can I use my knowledge and love of theatre to bring the Club’s mission to life?”

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