Research & Action Report, Spring/Summer 2010
Open Circle, a program of the Wellesley Centers for Women, works with elementary school communities in New England, New York, and New Jersey to help children become ethical people, contributing citizens, and successful learners. This program helps foster the development of relationships that support safe, caring, and respectful learning communities of children and adults. The Open Circle team is currently updating its grade-differentiated curriculum to provide more support around bullying prevention and increase accessibility and applicability to urban communities. More details about these updates will be posted in the next issue of Research & Action Report.
Two new programs for elementary school personnel are now available. Past implementation of the Open Circle Curriculum is not required for participation in these programs.
The Relational Educator: Research indicates that one critical component to student success is the ability of the adults in the school community to create a collegial climate with each other. This new workshop series explores the link between adult relationships and overall school climate. Participants focus on three key ingredients to a healthy school climate among adults: trust, communication, and collaboration. Through interactive exercises, reflection activities, surveys, and a review of research, participants assess the current functioning of the adult community at their school, connect their current practice as an educator with desired outcomes, and create action plans to support ongoing work. Participants explore their relationships with colleagues and have the opportunity to work within existing teams, such as by grade level, to reach their goals.
The Pro-Social Educator: This new workshop series explores how enhancing educators’ social and emotional competency (SEC) can help increase their engagement in teaching, strengthen their relationships with students, and improve their stress management—all of which lead to improved student outcomes. Through interactive exercises, participants examine the connection between self-management and effective teaching, learn to identify early signs of burnout, reconnect to their identity as a teacher and develop a self-care plan for managing stress. They review the latest research related to adult SEC and how it can support effective classroom management and adult emotional regulation. Participants also examine their relationships with their most challenging students and strategize ways to develop better relationships with these students and their families.
Open Circle and Courage & Renewal Northeast organized a dynamic speaker series that is bringing together researchers, writers, and practitioners in education for interactive discussions. The next program, “Ready to Rock the Heart of Learning: An Evening with Dr. Mac,” will be held June 17, 2010, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Collins Cinema on the Wellesley College campus, Wellesley, MA. Child and family psychologist Don MacMannis, Ph.D., is an award-winning singer/songwriter who specializes in creative projects for young children. This presentation may be recorded. Visit www.open-circle.org for more details.
Recent programs in the series include: “Wounded by School,” with author and educational consultant Kirsten Olson; “How Teachers’ Spirituality and Religion Influence Their Work as Educators,” with educator and researcher Joan Blanusa; and “Seven Secrets of The Savvy School Leader” with author and clinical and organizational psychologist Robert Evans.
Since its inception in 1987, Open Circle has reached nearly half a million children and trained more than 10,000 educators. The curriculum is currently used in 262 schools across 98 urban and suburban communities throughout the Northeast. Recognized as a leader in addressing the need for social and emotional learning in schools, Open Circle is listed in the U.S. Department of Education Expert Panel guidebook of Exemplary and Promising Safe, Disciplined, and Drug-Free Schools Programs and has been designed as a “Select” program by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.