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In One91 middle schools, students learn important social and emotional skills that help make them Future Ready and Community Strong

In One91 middle schools, students learn important social and emotional skills that help make them Future Ready and Community Strong

On Tuesdays at both Eagle Ridge and Nicollet Middle Schools, students start their day with an advisory class, a regularly-scheduled period of the day dedicated to helping students find success at school and in life. Each week, advisory classes cover different topics. 

In Eagle Ridge science teacher Pat Mosey’s class this week, the topic is “Recognizing Bullying.” Other topics covered in class have included goal setting, adolescent brain development, showing empathy, building community and starting new things. It’s part of the school’s social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum, which helps young people thrive personally and academically.

SEL is an integral part of education and human development. It’s the process through which young people and adults acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to do several things — recognizing and managing their emotions, demonstrating caring and concern for others, establishing positive relationships, making responsible decisions, and handling challenging situations constructively.

It also fosters knowledge, skills, and attitudes across five main areas of social and emotional competence, including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Developing these skills at the middle school level is part of the District 191 Pathways model, helping students choose and find success on their path because they know themselves better and are better equipped to work with others. 

“This year we spent the entire first week of our advisory class focusing on returning to in-person learning from distance learning,” said Mosey. “Students needed this to remember their skills to be successful in school. This year we assumed nothing and taught everything.” 

Students participate in a variety of engaging activities that introduce them to skills that are important for middle schoolers to grow and develop. There’s scripted dialogue that helps students self-reflect, share with a partner or share with the whole class. In their advisory Schoology course, students follow along and complete that day’s activity. In Mosey’s class, many students are comfortable sharing their reflections with the entire class, but some are more comfortable tracking their progress on their own document – and that’s totally OK. 

Advisory teachers are the facilitators of SEL work, monitoring students’ progress and making sure that students are completing certain tasks, like tracking how they’re doing in school, identifying what goals they would like to accomplish, and exploring what they are doing to meet their goals. Most importantly, however, it’s the facilitators (teachers) who are the role models for students and become part of the students’ support system. 

“I’m a support system for them to feel comfortable when they need help, support when they are struggling and a friend when they need someone to listen or give them positive advice,” said Mosey. “I also share struggles when I was their age or struggles that are on-going throughout life. My goal is to be a positive role model and guide them to be the best they can be.”

“Building positive relationships as well as students being aware of themselves and their emotions are paramount in middle school,” said Eagle Ridge Assistant Principal Bill Heim. “Students get a chance to connect with each other and teachers are able to check in on their well-being and create positive relationships within their school community.”