“Learning is possible only after students’ social, emotional and physical needs have been met. When those needs are met, students are more likely to succeed in school” (CASEL, 2002) .
Research indicates that “in meaningful and sustained learning, the intellect and emotion are inseparable. Brain research, for example, has demonstrated that . . . emotion [drives] attention, learning, memory and other important mental or intellectual activities” (McCombs, 2001) . In other words, there can be no separation between emotions and learning, during school hours or at any other time. Theatre is the exploration of human emotions, motivations, and reactions making it uniquely positioned as a tool for social-emotional learning (SEL).
Mirror Image Arts program of “You, Me, We,” is a 6 sessions, 60 minutes program which supports the social-emotional development of young people, ages 8-21.
Each session began with theatrical warm-ups that create a safe and inclusive environment. We then incorporated interactive theatre performances. These performances invited young people to engage with our characters, who like themselves, are learning to recognize and manage emotions, develop positive relationships, and avoid negative behaviours. Through post performance group reflection, youth practiced empathy and deepen self-awareness. Sessions culminated in drama activities that solidified learning and provide a space for youth to make connections to their own lives.
Two professional artist facilitated our program and nurtured the partnership between Mirror Image Arts and the school. These artist received training in facilitation, partnership practices, classroom management, positive youth development, trauma informed care, and restorative justice.
Students actively participated in several self-reflective activities under facilitation and direction of Mirror Image Arts professionals using their curriculum to help students better communicate their intentions, their emotions and their logic. Through multiple theatrical prompts the students acted out specific scenarios wherein there was a conflict. Students were guided through several potential resolutions to those reality based conflicts.
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (2002). Safe and Sound: An Educational Leader's Guide To Evidence-Based Social and Emotional Learning Programs. Chicago, IL: University of Illinois at Chicago.
McCombs, Barbara L. (2001, June). "The Learner-Centered Psychological Principles: A Framework for Balancing Academic and Social and Emotional Learning." Center on Education in the Inner Cities Review.