Social and emotional learning: What is ‘Open Circle.’

6 Dec

Moi wrote in College readiness: What are ‘soft skills’: Whether one calls success traits “emotional intelligence” or “soft skills” is really not important. The traits associated are those more likely to result in a successful outcome for the student.
Margaret Rouse defines “soft skills” in the post, Soft Skills:

Soft skills are personal attributes that enhance an individual’s interactions, job performance and career prospects. Unlike hard skills, which are about a person’s skill set and ability to perform a certain type of task or activity, soft skills are interpersonal and broadly applicable.
Soft skills are often described by using terms often associated with personality traits, such as:
o optimism
o common sense
o responsibility
o a sense of humor
o integrity
and abilities that can be practiced (but require the individual to genuinely like other people) such as:
o empathy
o teamwork
o leadership
o communication
o good manners
o negotiation
o sociability
o the ability to teach.
It’s often said that hard skills will get you an interview but you need soft skills to get (and keep) the job.

K-12 education must not only prepare students by teaching basic skills, but they must prepare students for training after high school, either college or vocational. There should not only be a solid education foundation established in K-12, but there must be more accurate evaluation of whether individual students are “college ready.”

Nicole Leonard reported in the article, Boston schools open doors to ‘Open Circle’:

So far, there are indications that Open Circle is making an impact. A program description by the Massachusetts Department of Education shows that teachers report an improved ability to identify students’ social and emotional needs; that students demonstrate improved social skills; and that the program has engendered an improvement in overall school climate.
“The beauty of Open Circle is that there is a consistent program, curriculum and language. Students get consistent messages,” said Efrain Toledano, principal at Tobin. “I think it’s phenomenal. It’s exactly what the students need,” he said.
Toledano, who came to Tobin this year from Dever-McCormack K-8 School, said he’s handled very few disciplinary referrals from Tobin’s elementary classrooms.
“People forget that these are children who learn through observation,” Toledano said. Having a positive emotional climate at school can help students who may have tumultuous home lives, he said.
“(Open Circle) gets students comfortable in a low-stakes atmosphere,” he said. “It lets them think about the kind of person they want to be.”
That comfort and consistency is key for a school like Tobin, which has one of the highest rates (93 percent) of low-income students eligible for free or reduced lunches.
“Open Circle’s a safe place for dialogue,” said Fizer, whose third-glass class is designated as a Sheltered English Instruction classroom, which focuses on providing bilingual support for English language learners. “It lets students lower their affective filter and relax . . . Everyone is comfortable emotionally, which opens the door to academic (success).”
While building students’ social skills may seem like a secondary priority in an environment focused on academics, the two are tied closely together, said Miranda. “Without the social piece, our academics falter,” she said.
Research indicates that a focus on social and emotional learning leads to increased academic performance. In a 2011 study involving over 270,000 kindergarten through high school students, students who participated in social and emotional learning programs such as Open Circle showed an 11 percentile-point increase in academic achievement, as well as improved social and emotional skills.
Open Circle’s success in Tobin’s K-5 classrooms has educators hoping to move the program into middle-school grade levels.
“I want to see it go all the way through,” said Toledano. “They have math and ELA (English and Language Arts). I want Open Circle to be another subject . . . (so) that we not just teach academics, but teach the whole child.”
This article was reported and written under the supervision of Northeastern University journalism instructor Lisa Chedekel, as part of a collaboration with The Boston Globe.

Here is Open Circle’s description of their program:

What is Open Circle?
Open Circle is a leading provider of evidence-based curricula and professional development for social and emotional learning (SEL) in Kindergarten through Grade 5. Open Circle’s programming focuses on two goals: strengthening students’ SEL skills related to self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, interpersonal relationships and problem-solving; and fostering safe, caring and highly-engaging classroom and school communities. Since its inception in 1987, Open Circle has reached over two million children and trained over 13,000 educators.
View the history of Open Circle here: Open Circle Milestones (PDF)
Also, you can download a printable version of Open Circle’s Fact Sheet (PDF) and our Video List (PDF) for a sampling of our YouTube videos.
Our mission is to work with school communities to help children become ethical people, contributing citizens and successful learners. By helping schools implement Open Circle, we foster the development of relationships that support safe, caring and respectful learning communities of children and adults.
We envision a world where social and emotional learning is universally embraced and integrated into all educational communities serving youth.
Core Values
We are dedicated to the following values as cornerstones of our organization and we endeavor to exemplify and act in accordance with these values at all times.
Social and Emotional Learning and Development
Learning through Relationships
Identity and Inclusion
Safe and Caring Environments
Youth Leadership and Development
Growth and Innovation
Integration of Research, Theory and Practice
Collaboration and Shared Leadership
Unites schools with a common vocabulary, strategies and expectations for student behavior
Improves school safety, school climate and student and family engagement
Increases students’ ability to listen, speak up, calm down, show empathy, express anger appropriately, cooperate and solve problems
Reduces students peer exclusion, teasing, bullying and fighting
Improves educators’ classroom management, dialogue facilitation and ability to address students’ social and emotional needs
Strengthens educators’ own SEL skills, collaboration and trust
Buys back time for academics by proactively addressing behavior problems
Evidence-Based and Nationally-Recognized
Research has shown that Open Circle increases students’ demonstration of pro-social skills, decreases violence and other problem behaviors, and supports an easier transition to middle school. Open Circle is listed in the U.S. Department of Education’s Exemplary and Promising Safe, Disciplined, and Drug-Free Schools Programs Guidebook; the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices; and the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning’s 2013 CASEL Guide to Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs.

Moi wrote in The ‘whole child’ approach to education: Many children do not have a positive education experience in the education system for a variety of reasons. Many educators are advocating for the “whole child” approach to increase the number of children who have a positive experience in the education process.

In order to ensure that ALL children have a basic education, we must take a comprehensive approach to learning.

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©


Linking Social Development and Behavior to School Readiness

Social and Emotional Learning


College readiness: What are ‘soft skills’

Many NOT ready for higher education

Study: What skills are needed for ’21st-century learning?’

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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