There is no debating the importance of academics. Having an engaging and rigorous academic program is the cornerstone of every quality school. However, there is a clear understanding that a meaningful social and emotional education is crucial to the development of well-rounded students who know not only great works of literature, complex mathematics, and how to conjugate French verbs, but know themselves as well.
The Middle School’s approach to SEL has its foundations in weekly advisory meetings. Advisors are responsible for nurturing and encouraging growth in behavior, grades, socialization, and general well-being.
There are usually 12 advisory groups at the Middle School, two per class, with a faculty member who serves an advisor for the year.
Each week, advisors meet with their students using Restorative Justice circles to set the tone for the session. Circles help:
- build community
- teach lessons on kindness, growth mindset, and other topics
- and, most importantly, check in with students on how they are doing
The circles allow all students to have a voice and feel safe in sharing questions or stories that may be difficult to raise in a larger group setting. Students are not required to share, but are encouraged to.
By using the circles, faculty establish close relationships with students and are made more aware of questions students have around workload, grades, social issues, or other areas of concern. It also allows students to help each other with their challenges.
The Middle School team is looking into expanding the Restorative Justice practice beyond Advisory over the course of this year in order to continue to support students as they grow and mature into young people who are ready to make a difference in their communities.