Thursday, June 9, 2011

What We're Up To: Building a Mentorship Program

One of the things that we see an opportunity to improve at BCC is the mentoring aspect of our youth development program. We hope that our readers know that we do A LOT more than sing here at BCC – if you need a reminder of what our mission is exactly, check it out on our website.

Edward Clapp
Over the summer, we are going to be working with Harvard Doctoral candidate Edward Clapp to launch an Omni-Directional Mentorship program (more on what that means later). It will be active starting at the beginning of next season. Over the past few months, Clapp has held one-on-one conversations with singers, parents, staff, and board members about how we relate to one another at BCC and how we can improve our interactions. He presented his initial findings this week in a discussion-oriented session at BCC Central, open to the same broad range of people.

He pointed out that when we typically think about mentorship, we imagine a top-down relationship (i.e. from a more experienced person to a less-experienced person). Omni-directional membership is different because it considers other directions, like bottom-up and lateral (i.e. peer) relationships. An organization that effectively uses omni-directional membership creates a web of learning, where “all leaders are learners, and all learners are leaders.”

Clapp presents his thoughts on the
points of "resonance"

and "dissonance" at BCC
In developing this program with BCC, Clapp is using a very appropriate metaphor – the voice! He asked attendees to think about how they “hear voice” and “have voice” within the organization, as well as the areas in which the very broad BCC community has “resonance” (i.e. agreement) and “dissonance” (i.e. disagreement). The greater the resonance within the organization, the more likely we are to have “harmony,” which Clapp defined as a powerful expression of the mission, vision, and/or purpose of the organization.
Singers, parents, staff
and board offered ideas.
The group in attendance talked about a lot of ways that we could foster relationships within and across stakeholder groups. Singers expressed a strong interest in getting to know the board, newer parents wanted an opportunity to interact with older parents, parents were interested in experiencing what singers are learning in rehearsal.

However the program takes shape this fall, all of us can count on being asked to be involved, including our audience, funders, and alumni! Clapp is intent on enhancing our community through knowledge sharing and “curiosity about the other.” We hope you’ll come along with us on this journey, because our community has something to learn from your voice!

Why not start Getting Vocal now? Leave a comment about your role in BCC’s community, the ways you would like to see it grow or change, and your suggestions about how we should get there! If you are reading this post on our website, please visit the blog at to make your comment. Thanks!

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