Middle School Advisory/ SEL

In contrast to the “hard skills” of academic and pure cognitive learning, social and emotional learning (SEL) contributes to the vital “soft skill” set that research recognizes as possibly more predictive of success in academics, attainment of goals and life satisfaction than IQ alone. These powerful skills include self-awareness, emotional control, social intelligence, problem solving, conflict resolution, flexibility, resilience, planning and organization, and communication skills. Through discussions, lessons, role-plays and experiential exercises, students learn and practice these skills in the supportive environment of their advisory group.
 
Our Advisory and SEL Program is committed to the nurturing of the “whole child.” It is through this process that our gifted learners learn to recognize and manage emotions, care about others, develop positive relationships, behave ethically and responsibly and make good decisions.  

Structure

All middle school students are part of a small grade-level advisory group, which meets daily.  The structure of the advisory program has various components. Students begin their day in advisory groups with a 10-minute morning “check-in” to help increase students’ self and social awareness. They end their day with a 10-minute “check-out” that reinforces critical executive functioning skills, such as planning, prioritization and organization. Advisory groups meet for one hour on Fridays, which includes lunch and a specific weekly SEL lesson on a foundational or emerging social-emotional topic. In addition to these scheduled advisory times, there are opportunities each month for Class Meetings and Open Sessions. Class Meetings give the students a voice for discussing school-related issues and allows them to utilize their shared problem-solving abilities. In Open Sessions, students respond to specific student-generated issues through an intentional, supportive exchange of listening and ideas.
 
Our advisory curriculum represents best practices for social-emotional learning in independent schools today. It's foundation is built off of the Nueva Institute for Social-Emotional Learning curriculum, with additional “emerging” curricula curated from a variety of resources such as Teaching Tolerance, Common Sense Media, Stanford Program for Gifted Youth and Byrdseed. We also consult with experts on specific social-emotional topics such as relational aggression and cultural diversity to strengthen our knowledge and competencies in these areas.

Foundational Skills

The core middle school advisory curriculum is comprised of five foundation skill areas: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills and Responsible Decision Making. All lessons are differentiated by grade level and follow a developmentally appropriate scope and sequence. Additional topics under each of the foundation skills include:
 
Self-Awareness: Emotions and Neuroscience, Mindset and Resilience, Personal Typology and Learning Styles, Impact of Self on Others
Self-Management: Emotional Regulation, Stress Management, Mindfulness and Relaxation
Social Awareness: Teambuilding, Empathy and Inclusiveness, Appreciating Differences, Giving/Receiving Feedback
Relationship Skills: Effective Communication, Conflict Resolution, Assertiveness and Self-Advocacy
Responsible Decision Making:  Goal Setting, Problem-Solving and Leadership Skills

Resources

Throughout the school year we utilize a variety of additional resources to address topics related specifically to students’ experiences. These emerging curriculum topics may include:
  • Digital Citizenship (creating a positive online self)
  • Cultural Understanding and Diversity
  • Relational Aggression and Friendship Issues
  • Deconstructing Media Influences
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Other topics affecting the school community