The Dewing School began using the Open Circle curriculum three years ago with very positive results. Our students and teachers have benefited from the discussions of emotions, relationships and decision-making. Open Circle is a universal Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program focused on two goals:
- Strengthening students’ SEL skills related to recognizing and managing emotions, developing care and concern for others, establishing positive relationships, making responsible decisions, and handling challenging situations constructively
- Fostering safe, caring and highly-engaging classroom and school communities
At the heart of Open Circle are 15-to-20 minute classroom meetings led by teachers twice per week throughout the school year. These interactive meetings include group discussions, role-playing, literature, and community-building activities. Students learn and practice important SEL skills such as listening, cooperating, speaking up, calming down, expressing anger appropriately, recognizing dangerous and destructive behavior, and problem solving. Lessons are then reinforced throughout the school day and beyond by teachers, administrators, school support staff and parents.
The Open Circle Curriculum includes Home Links, which are letters that teachers send home to parents to explain what children are learning throughout the year. The letters provide ideas for using Open Circle approaches at home and they include recommendations for high quality children’s literature related to Open Circle concepts that families can read together at home.
Our family Home Links welcome letter and vocabulary sheet are available in eight languages: Chinese, Cape Verdean Creole, English, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Spanish, Somali and Vietnamese.
Teachers send home the newsletters as they apply to classroom activities. Parents also can download electronic copies of Home Link by going to the Open Circle website at Open-Circle.org. If you are a parent and are not sure which lesson your child is currently studying, please check with your child’s teacher.