The HeartBridge Learning Center has developed a social-emotional curriculum for use in both public and private school systems. This curriculum blends several modes of learning to reach each student in the most effective way that they process information.
HeartBridge Learning Center uses curriculum that adhere to the five competencies produced by SEL-clearinghouse CASEL:
3. Social Awareness
4. Relationship Skills
5. Responsible Decision-Making
In our Table of Contents, we lay out the different Areas of Focus, which are a collection of social-emotional topics ranging from compassion to self-worth. We believe these areas are vital to each student’s social-emotional development. Each Area of Focus is dissected and discussed in a series of lessons, designed to introduce the student to the different aspects of the social-emotional topic. So, if the Area of Focus is Bullying, a lesson might be Cyberbullying. Breaking the topics into smaller components allows for better understanding of each topic, as well as more opportunities to reach students. There are a 42 Areas of Focus, divided into 127 lessons. The breakdown for each of the five competencies is as follows:
- Areas of Focus: 9
- Total Number of Lessons: 37
- Areas of Focus: 10
- Total Number of Lessons: 34
- Social Awareness
- Areas of Focus: 6
- Total Number of Lessons: 25
- Relationship Skills
- Areas of Focus: 6
- Total Number of Lessons: 21
The Growth Mindset- A foundation for the HB program
A mindset is the mental belief or attitude you have toward a certain aspect of life. What we think–and particularly what we think about ourselves–influences how we perceive the world around us and how we experience that world. Our mindset is like a filter for our brain: we will only catch the things we are looking for or expecting. Changing destructive mindsets and developing positive mindsets is the foundation of the HB program. If you have a mindset of insecurity, you will be triggered by criticism even if it is constructive. Your mindset will act like a magnet, only instead of metal you will be attracting anything that confirms your insecurity. You can be told a million times that you are beautiful and take it for granted; but the one time someone calls you plain or ugly, you will accept it as fact. Mindsets can be dangerous in this way, filtering out the positive and keeping the negative. It is in our best interest to cultivate positive mindsets. One such mindset is the growth mindset.
The growth mindset is a concept formally theorized by psychologist Carol Dweck. In her theory on mindsets, Dweck states that there are two opposing mindsets at work within the scope of achievement: the growth mindset and the fixed mindset. Before we can properly explain what the growth mindset is and how it applies to education, we must first delve into what a fixed mindset entails. A fixed mindset towards achievement means that one believes that basic qualities such as intelligence or talent are fixed traits, or traits that are inherent to a person’s nature. To the person with a fixed mindset, talent determines success. Personal development, therefore, is irrelevant, as individuals are either born with the ability or not. Those with fixed mindsets excuse themselves from trying new things or taking risks, because, in their mind, they cannot really “learn” how to do something. They hone in on the one intelligence that they feel is their own and never reach outside of their bubble. If you have ever said (or heard someone say), “I’m not really a math person,” you have experienced the fixed mindset first handedly. But often it is not as blatant. Someone who does not try new things because they fear failure is living with a fixed mindset. Someone who shies away from a challenge or quits as soon as they hit a roadblock is living with a fixed mindset. Someone who needs their intelligence confirmed by others is living with a fixed mindset. Everything is either make or break with little room for growth or risk. Click here to learn more about mindsets.
Current Curriculum Table of Contents
Breakdown of an Area of Focus
Each Area of Focus is broken down into five sections:
1. Focus Outcomes
2. Focus Introduction
3. Growth Mindset
4. Teacher Guidelines
5. Focus Lessons
The Focus Outcomes are criteria for social-emotional advancement that a student should make over the course of the Focus instruction. We believe that many students already have the basis for each lesson in their character, but need instruction and advisement to unlock the true social-emotional maturity.
The Focus Introduction is meant to give a conceptual introduction to each Area of Focus. Each Introduction is divided into four parts:
- A definition of the subject being covered
- A brief introduction, detailing why the subject is important to students’ growth
The Growth Mindset is a recent concept that has gained a lot of traction in the last few years. Coined by Carol Dweck, professor of Psychology at Stanford University, the growth mindset is the idea that intelligence and ability can be developed over a lifetime. Contrast this with the fixed mindset, which is the belief that intelligence and ability are innate, or are formed at birth, and cannot be developed.
At the heart of these two concepts is the discussion of whether we can truly learn anything that does not come natural to us. It is the belief of those who support the growth mindset that our mindset directly affects our achievement, so by just believing we can learn something or do something we affect our behavior. The point of including this concept in our curriculum is because we are under the belief that changing our mindsets to growth instead of fixed, we can achieve anything we set out to achieve.
Integrating this belief with social-emotional competencies, we believe that we can change our behavior through simply believing that we have the capabilities. An example of this is that a person might have a fixed mindset toward their anger issues. They believe that they were born with this impulsiveness to react in an aggressive way and will not do anything to change. They shift the blame from themselves to simple biology or genetics. What we believe, and what we want students to believe, is that they have control over their behavior and actions. If they truly want to change, they have the ability. It starts with them though.
In this section, we provide a brief message detailing the opposing mindsets toward each area, giving students the opportunity to visualize and understand their beliefs toward the area. We then provide pointed questions to help them further their self-awareness.
The Teacher Guidelines are three basic steps for a teacher to help them navigate the Area of Focus
- Introduce students to the Area of Focus
- Discuss with students the lesson within the Growth Mindset section and how it applies to them
- Go over the lesson outcomes with the students and what the teacher expectations are for them
The lessons are our main message to the students about each social-emotional area. As stated before, each lesson is crafted to be teacher-friendly so as to allow teachers the freedom to interact with their students and not feel like. Lessons are segmented into six major sections:
- Lesson Introduction: The Lesson Introduction gives a brief explanation of each lesson, detailing why the lesson is important and clarifying any confusing subject matter. Also provided are Teacher Guidelines, which act as outcomes for what students should learn in each lesson.
- How Does It Affect Me Personally?: The HDIAMP section provides questions that cause students to be introspective and think about how each Area of Focus relates to them. Questions often ask them to think about their thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and how they might be making harmful decisions for themselves and others.
- Tools for Learning: The Tools for Learning section provides useful videos, articles, and websites that give better explanation and evidence to back up the importance of each area.
- Each Tools for Learning section provides a link to video, article, or website, guidelines for the teacher via Tool Background, and Section Questions to gauge what students learn from the tool and how they are affected by that knowledge.
- Depending on how you are accessing the curriculum (online or in print), the Tools section can either be shared via hyperlink in the Student Workbook (if a video, article, or website), on a smartboard or projector (if a video or website), or through the HeartBridge Personal Competency Handouts (if an article), which are provided with the curriculum.
- Know Your Quote: The Know Your Quote section provides an Area of Focus-specific quote and Section Questions to see what students understand about the quote and its context to the Area of Focus being studied.
- Mindful Moment: The Mindful Moment section explores each Area of Focus through the scope of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a very broad subject, having been practiced in one form or the other for over a thousand years. It has its origins in Buddhism, but has found a modern voice in psychology. The definition that we use for mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Through the scope of social-emotional learning, mindfulness can be used to being awareness and understanding to young people’s thoughts and feelings, while also putting a buffer between thought/feelings and action. This prevents them from making emotional or irrational decisions.
- Within each Mindful Moment section is an article, website, or other summary of how mindfulness relates to each Area of Focus. Again, we provide Teacher Guidelines for how to approach each section, and Section Questions to give students the opportunity to write about what they learned.
- Like the Tools for Learning section, Mindful Moments are shared with students either through hyperlink on the Student Workbook (if students have computer access) or on the HeartBridge Personal Competency Handouts, which are provided with the curriculum.
- From “Me” to “We”: The FMTW section provides activities, either paired or group, which give students the change for hands-on, visual learning within the scope of each Area of Focus. These activities range from group improv skits, to group discussion and writing, to crafting and experimenting.
- Each section has the name of the activity, any possible supplies, and Teacher Guidelines for how to guide students through the activity. Some FMTW sections will also have After Activity Discussion Questions, but not all activities have required writing.
- Optional Sections: There are three sections that occur in a number of lessons, but do not occur in all of them.
- Innovation: This section is meant to give teachers the ability to teach innovative strategies and activities to their students. Interactive websites and student-led activities are included in this section.
- Research: The Research section is included in the majority of sections, but not all of them. This section gives students the opportunity to research and write about one aspect of the Area of Focus they are studying.
- Deeper Learning: The Deeper Learning is similar to the Innovation section in that it is meant to be more out-of-classroom learning. Deeper Learning sections involve individual learning for students who either want to learn more about each subject area or need more instruction because behavioral problems persist.
Section Handouts are a combination of articles, activities, and relevant information that requires it to be separate from the main Workbook. Sections that tend to employ Handouts are the Tools for Learning and Mindful Moments, but the How Does It Affect Me Personally? section also uses Handouts when necessary. Students should read the information on the Handout, and then either answer Section Questions or participate in an activity.
To view a Sample Lesson click here
Schools who partner with the HeartBridge Learning Center are given an assessment to give to the students who will participate in the program. The assessment is given once before the program begins and the second time at the end of each year the program is given. The question consists of 105 questions split over two questionnaires. The questions reflect a series of social-emotional areas, and are divided into two areas: in school and in general. The areas covered are:
- Communication Skills
- General Feelings
- Growth Mindset
- Social Skills
- Your Goals
The questions are compiled and combined into the categories so that they can be measured for positive answers vs. negative answers. The goal is for schools to be able to see where their students begin and their progression after exposure to social-emotional learning.