Special Programs

Social and Emotional Learning

Social and Emotional Learning at Open Window School


Social and emotional learning (SEL) forms the cornerstone of the Open Window School experience. We firmly believe that empowering young individuals to navigate their social and emotional landscapes is essential for them to become successful, resilient, lifelong learners. Our students, who possess both high intellectual potential and diverse learning preferences, benefit from the integration of SEL principles into our advisory and learning environments. This integration promotes student agency, identity development, emotional regulation, cultural competency, relationship management, and resilience.

Through deliberate instruction, modeling, and opportunities for authentic practice, we foster a growth mindset and equip students with the emotional skills needed to comprehend themselves and their roles within a community.

Foundational Skills: The core of our SEL program is structured around five foundational skill areas: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision-Making.

Specific topics within each foundation skill area encompass:
  • 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

Meet the Counselors

List of 1 members.

  • Photo of Kelly Crowe-Yrarrázaval

    Kelly Crowe-Yrarrázaval 

    School Counselor

SEL in Lower School

SEL is explicitly taught in classrooms, allowing students to naturally apply these skills throughout their school day and in various settings as they engage with peers and educators. Additionally, SEL is seamlessly woven into academic instruction. Each year, students encounter age-appropriate and relevant concepts, with these concepts revisited as they progress through their Open Window School journey to align with their evolving developmental needs.

Instruction in SEL encompasses role-play, puppet stories, community-building activities, partner or class discussions, self-reflection, and group problem-solving. These teaching approaches are deployed consistently throughout the division to help students recognize and articulate their emotions, empathize with others, communicate effectively, resolve conflicts, see things from others' perspectives, and forge positive relationships.

Our program also covers essential topics such as Digital Citizenship, Character Traits, Executive Function Skills, and Mindfulness. Specific lessons on personal safety are introduced to first and third-grade students, while fourth-grade students participate in puberty and health education.
Our program also includes lessons on Digital Citizenship, Character Traits, Executive Function Skills, and Mindfulness. First and third grade students participate in lessons focused on personal safety, and fourth grade students participate in sexuality and health education.

SEL in Middle School

The Middle School Advisory and SEL Program builds upon the five core SEL competencies introduced in lower school, focusing on students' ability to recognize and regulate emotions, cultivate empathy, establish positive relationships, and make ethical and responsible decisions.

Every middle school student belongs to a small grade-level advisory group that meets daily. This advisory program incorporates various components, starting the day with a morning "check-in" based on the Responsive Classroom structure. This time is dedicated to nurturing relationships among peers and teachers and honing essential executive functioning skills, including planning, prioritization, and organization.

Regular longer advisory group meetings include specific SEL lessons addressing foundational and emerging social-emotional topics. In addition to these scheduled advisory times, monthly Community Meetings and whole-school assemblies provide further opportunities for social and emotional growth.

Our advisory curriculum draws from research-based practices in social-emotional learning within independent schools. Collaboratively designed by our teachers and counselors, these lessons are developmentally appropriate and tailored to provide a foundation of practical skills while being responsive to emerging student needs. We leverage various resources, including materials from the Nueva Institute for Social-Emotional Learning, Learning for Justice, Common Sense Media, Stanford Program for Gifted Youth, and others.
Open Window School provides a challenging academic curriculum blended with nurturing support from teachers that prepares students for long-term success.